Learn Measure Blog About

How to set up Signed HTTP Exchanges (SXG)

How to generate a TLS certificate with SXG extensions, install tools for generating SXG files, and configure nginx to serve SXG files.

Signed HTTP Exchanges (SXG) is a new web technology that makes it easier for users to tell content creators apart from content distributors. This guide shows you how to set up SXG.

Cross-browser support

Chrome is currently the only browser that supports SXG. See the Consensus & Standardization section of Origin-Signed HTTP Exchanges for more up-to-date information.

Prerequisites

To implement SXG on your website, you must:

  • Have control over your domain, including DNS entries.
  • Get certificates. SXG requires the issuance of a dedicated certificate. In particular, you cannot reuse your TLS key or certificate.
  • Have an HTTP server that can generate and serve SXG over HTTPS.

Assumptions

This guide assumes that you:

  • Have an OpenSSL 1.1.1 environment. This guide was written with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS on amd64 ISA.
  • Have the ability to run sudo to install executables.
  • Use nginx as an HTTP server.
  • Are using DigiCert to generate certificates that include SXG-related extensions, because it currently appears to be the only provider that supports these extensions.

Also, the example commands in this article assume your domain is website.test, so you'll need to replace website.test with your actual domain.

Step 1: Get your certificate for SXG

To generate SXG, you need a TLS certificate with the CanSignHttpExchanges extension, as well as a particular key type. DigiCert provides certificates with this extension. You need a CSR file for issuance of a certificate, so generate it with the following commands:

openssl ecparam -genkey -name prime256v1 -out mySxg.key
openssl req -new -key mySxg.key -nodes -out mySxg.csr -subj "/O=Test/C=US/CN=website.test"

You will get a CSR file that looks like the following:

-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE REQUEST-----
MIHuMIGVAgEAMDMxDTALBgNVBAoMBFRlc3QxCzAJBgNVBAYTAlVTMRUwEwYDVQQD
DAx3ZWJzaXRlLnRlc3QwWTATBgcqhkjOPQIBBggqhkjOPQMBBwNCAAS7IVaeMvid
S5UO7BspzSe5eqT5Qk6X6dCggUiV/vyqQaFDjA/ALyTofgXpbCaksorPaDhdA+f9
APdHWkTbbdv1oAAwCgYIKoZIzj0EAwIDSAAwRQIhAIb7n7Kcc6Y6pU3vFr8SDNkB
kEadlVKNA24SVZ/hn3fjAiAS2tWXhYdJX6xjf2+DL/smB36MKbXg7VWy0K1tWmFi
Sg==
-----END CERTIFICATE REQUEST-----

Make sure that:

  • The validity period does not exceed 90 days.
  • The Include the CanSignHttpExchanges extension in the certificate checkbox is enabled, which is found under Additional Certificate Options.
The Include the CanSignHttpExchanges extension in the certificate checkbox.

If your certificate does not match these conditions, browsers and distributors will reject your SXG for security reasons. This guide assumes that the filename of the certificate you got from DigiCert is mySxg.pem.

Step 2: Install libsxg

The SXG format is complex and hard to generate without using tools. You can use one of the following options to generate SXG:

This guide uses libsxg.

Option 1: Install libsxg from a Debian package

You can install the package in the usual Debian way, as long as the OpenSSL (libssl-dev) version matches.

sudo apt install -y libssl-dev
wget https://github.com/google/libsxg/releases/download/v0.2/libsxg0_0.2_amd64.deb
wget https://github.com/googl/etwlibsxg/releases/download/v0.2/libsxg-dev_0.2_amd64.deb
sudo dpkg -i libsxg0_0.2_amd64.deb
sudo dpkg -i libsxg-dev_0.2_amd64.deb

Option 2: Build libsxg manually

If you are not using an environment compatible with .deb files, you can build libsxg yourself. As a precondition, you need to install git, cmake, openssl, and gcc.

git clone https://github.com/google/libsxg
mkdir libsxg/build
cd libsxg/build
cmake .. -DRUN_TEST=false -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release
make
sudo make install

Step 3: Install nginx plugin

The nginx plugin allows you to generate SXG dynamically instead of statically generating them prior to serving.

Option 1: Install the plugin from a Debian package

The SXG module for nginx is distributed on GitHub. On Debian-based systems, you can install it as a binary package:

sudo apt install nginx
wget https://github.com/google/nginx-sxg-module/releases/download/v0.1/libnginx-mod-http-sxg-filter_1.15.9-0ubuntu1.1_amd64.deb
sudo dpkg -i libnginx-mod-http-sxg-filter_1.15.9-0ubuntu1.1_amd64.deb

Option 2: Build plugin manually

Building the nginx module requires the nginx source code. You can get the tarball and build it along with the SXG dynamic module using the commands below:

git clone https://github.com/google/nginx-sxg-module
wget https://nginx.org/download/nginx-1.17.5.tar.gz
tar xvf nginx-1.17.5.tar.gz
cd nginx-1.17.5
./configure --prefix=/opt/nginx --add-dynamic-module=../nginx-sxg-module --without-http_rewrite_module --with-http_ssl_module
make
sudo make install

The nginx configuration has great flexibility. Install nginx anywhere in your system, then specify a respective path of module/config/log/pidfile. This guide assumes that you install it to /opt/nginx.

Step 4: Configure the nginx plugin to work with SXG

Option 1: Configure an installed-from-Debian nginx module

Follow these instructions if you used Step 3, Option 1 earlier.

Delivering SXG content requires HTTPS. You can get an SSL/TLS certificate from DigiCert, Let's Encrypt, and other services. Note that you CANNOT use an SXG certificate for SSL or vice versa, therefore you will need two certificates. The configuration file in /etc/nginx/nginx.conf should look similar to the following, assuming that you put the SSL key/certificate pair in /path/to/ssl/ and the SXG key/certificate pair in /path/to/sxg/:

user www-data;
include /etc/nginx/modules-enabled/*.conf;

events {
worker_connections 768;
}

http {
include mime.types;
default_type application/octet-stream;
add_header X-Content-Type-Options nosniff;

server {
listen 443 ssl;
ssl_certificate /path/to/ssl/fullchain.pem;
ssl_certificate_key /path/to/ssl/privkey.pem;
server_name website.test;

sxg on;
sxg_certificate /path/to/sxg/mySxg.pem;
sxg_certificate_key /path/to/sxg/mySxg.key;
sxg_cert_url https://website.test/certs/cert.cbor;
sxg_validity_url https://website.test/validity/resource.msg;
sxg_cert_path /certs/cert.cbor;

root /var/www/html;
}
}
  • sxg_cert_url is essential for browsers to load SXG properly because it locates the certificate chain. The certificate chain contains certificate and OCSP stapling information with cbor format. Note that you do not have to serve the cert.cbor file from the same origin. You can serve it via any CDNs or other static file serving services as long as it supports HTTPS.
  • sxg_validitiy_url is planned to serve SXG-signature-header-related information. If a page has not been modified since the last SXG, downloading the entire SXG file is not required technically. So updating signature header information alone is expected to reduce network traffic. But the details are not implemented yet.

Start nginx and you are ready to serve SXG!

sudo systemctl start nginx.service
curl -H"Accept: application/signed-exchange;v=b3" https://website.test/ > index.html.sxg
cat index.html.sxg
sxg1-b3...https://website.test/...(omit)

Option 2: Configure a built-from-source nginx module

Follow these instructions if you used Step 3, Option 2 earlier.

Configure your nginx system installed under /opt/nginx to look similar to the following example:

load_module "/opt/nginx/modules/ngx_http_sxg_filter_module.so";

events {
worker_connections 768;
}

http {
include mime.types;
default_type application/octet-stream;
add_header X-Content-Type-Options nosniff;

server {
listen 443 ssl;
ssl_certificate /path/to/ssl/fullchain.pem;
ssl_certificate_key /path/to/ssl/privkey.pem;
server_name example.com;

sxg on;
sxg_certificate /path/to/sxg/mySxg.pem;
sxg_certificate_key /path/to/sxg/mySxg.key;
sxg_cert_url https://website.test/certs/cert.cbor;
sxg_validity_url https://website.test/validity/resource.msg;
sxg_cert_path /certs/cert.cbor;

root /opt/nginx/html;
}
}

Then start nginx. Now you can get your SXG!

cd /opt/nginx/sbin
sudo ./nginx
curl -H "Accept: application/signed-exchange;v=b3" https://website.test/ > index.html.sxg
less index.html.sxg
sxg1-b3...https://website.test/...(omit)

Step 5: Serve your application backend

In the above examples, nginx serves static files in the root directory, but you can use upstream directives for your applications to make SXG for arbitrary web application backends (such as Ruby on Rails, Django, or Express) as long as your nginx works as a front HTTP(S) server.

upstream app {
server 127.0.0.1:8080;
}

server {
location / {
proxy_pass http://app;
}
}

Send feedback

The Chromium engineers working on SXG are keen to hear your feedback at webpackage-dev@chromium.org. You can also join the spec discussion, or report a bug to the team. Your feedback will greatly help the standardization process and also help address implementation issues. Thank you!

Last updated: Improve article