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Configuring Hitch

Hitch can be configured either from command line arguments or from a configuration file on disk.

You can extract the usage description by invoking Hitch with the “–help” argument. An example configuration file is included in the distribution.

In general Hitch is a protocol agnostic proxy and does not need much configuration.

List of configuration items to consider:

If you need to support legacy clients, you can consider:

Specifying ciphers

The recommended default is:


If you need to support legacy clients, consider the “HIGH” cipher group.

Hitch cipher list string format is identical to that of other servers, so you can use tools like https://mozilla.github.io/server-side-tls/ssl-config-generator/ to generate a set of ciphers that suits your needs.

Normally you do not have to change this.

Using multiple certificates

To add multiple certificates to the hitch config, simply specify multiple pem-file lines like so:

pem-file = "/etc/tls/first-combined.pem"
pem-file = "/etc/tls/second-combined.pem"

Run environment

If you’re handling a large number of connections, you’ll probably want to raise ulimit -n before running Hitch.

If you are listening to ports under 1024 (443 comes to mind), you need to start Hitch as root. In those cases you must use –user/-u to set a non-privileged user hitch can setuid() to. If you are aware of the security implications and insist on running the worker threads as root too, both the user and the group must be set to root.

Preparing PEM files

PEM files should contain the key file, the certificate from the CA and any intermediate CAs needed.

$ cat example.com.key example.com.crt intermediate.pem > example.com.pem

If you want to use Diffie-Hellman based ciphers for Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS), you need to add some parameters for that as well:

$ openssl dhparam -rand - 2048 >> example.com.pem

Hitch will complain and disable DH unless these parameters are available.

Automatic OCSP staple retrieval

Hitch has support for automated retrieval of OCSP responses from an OCSP responder.

If the loaded certificate contains an OCSP responder address and it also has the required issuer certificate as part of its chain, Hitch will automatically retrieve and refresh OCSP staples.

The ocsp-dir directory must be read/write accessible by the configured hitch user, and should not be read or write accessible by any other user.

The staples are fetched asynchronously, and will be loaded and ready for stapling as soon as they are available.

The variables ocsp-connect-tmo and ocsp-resp-tmo controls respectively the connect timeout and fetch transmission timeout when Hitch is talking to an OCSP responder.

Automated OCSP stapling can be disabled by specifying an empty string for the ocsp-dir parameter:

ocsp-dir = ""

Verification of OCSP staples

Hitch will optionally verify the OCSP staple, this can be done by specifying

ocsp-verify-staple = on

in the configuration file.

If you are running with a custom CA, the verification certificates can be changed by setting the SSL_CERT_FILE or SSL_CERT_DIR environment variables. SSL_CERT_FILE can point to a single pem file containing a chain of certificates, while the SSL_CERT_DIR can be a comma-separated list of directories containing pem file with symlinks by their hash key (see the man page of c_rehash from the OpenSSL library for more information).

OCSP stapling from manually pre-loaded files

Hitch also has support for stapling of OCSP responses loaded from files on disk. If configured, Hitch will include a stapled OCSP response as part of the handshake when it receives a status request from a client.

Retrieving an OCSP response suitable for use with Hitch can be done using the following openssl command:

$ openssl ocsp \
    -url https://ocsp.example.com \
    -header Host ocsp.example.com \
    -no_nonce \
    -resp_text \
    -issuer issuer.pem \
    -cert mycert.pem \
    -respout ocspresp.der

This will produce a DER-encoded OCSP response which can then be loaded by Hitch.

The URL of the OCSP responder can be retrieved via

$ openssl x509 -ocsp_uri -in mycert.pem -noout

the -issuer argument needs to point to the OCSP issuer certificate. Typically this is the same certificate as the intermediate that signed the server certificate.

To configure Hitch to use the OCSP staple, use the following incantation when specifying the pem-file setting in your Hitch configuration file:

pem-file = {
    cert = "mycert.pem"
    ocsp-resp-file = "mycert-ocsp.der"

ALPN/NPN support

Hitch supports both the ALPN and the NPN TLS extension. This allows negotiation of the application layer protocol that is to be used.

This is useful if Hitch terminates TLS for HTTP/2 traffic.

To turn this on, you must supply an alpn-protos setting in the configuration file:

alpn-protos = "h2,http/1.1"

If the PROXY protocol is enabled (write-proxy = on), Hitch will transmit the selected protocol as part of its PROXY header.

SSL/TLS protocol setting

Hitch supports TLS (1.0, 1.1 and 1.2) and SSL 3. By default, only TLS versions 1.1 and 1.2 are enabled, while TLS 1.0 and SSLv3 are disabled. The recommended way to to select protocols is to use tls-protos in the configuration file:

tls-protos = TLSv1.1 TLSv1.2

The following tokens are available for the tls-protos option: SSLv3, TLSv1.0, TLSv1.1 and TLSv1.2.

Uninterrupted configuration reload

Issuing a SIGHUP signal to the main Hitch process will initiate a reload of Hitch’s configuration file.

Adding, updating and removing PEM files (pem-file) and frontend listen endpoints (frontend) is currently supported.

Hitch will load the new configuration in its main process, and spawn a new set of child processes with the new configuration in place if successful.

The previous set of child processes will finish their handling of any live connections, and exit after they are done.

If the new configuration fails to load, an error message will be written to syslog. Operation will continue without interruption with the current set of worker processes.