I'm starting a blog

Posted on Sat 07 May 2016 in blog

When you're working on a project you need to take notes. And when your project revolves around servers, networking and self-hosting services you may as well set up your own blog.

And so I did just that.

Picking a framework

I could easily have chosen a blogging platform such as Blogger, Ghost or Medium to save me all the hazzle. However, I'm curious about servers, networks and infrastructure so I took this chance to set up and host my own blog. It's a healthy experience for every Software Developer to do Operations from time to time. Eventually, if I get fed up on managing my own server I'll move the blog to some hosted platform.

I started looking around to see what other people did for their blog. At first I though about installing a fully blown CMS system on my server (inside a container or virtual machine) such as WordPress. I was very close to self-hosting Ghost after reading Anmol Jagetia's Blog. The biggest pro's of a CMS system is the ability to write your blog in a simple WYSIWYG fashion from whatever computer you're using. But in the end I decided to go for a static blog site generator framwork without any server-side logic. Comments would be handled by Disqus plugin.

I searched for and stumbled upon three strong candidates: Jekyll, Pelican and Utterson. Jekyll seems to be the most active project and is amongst other things powering GitHub Pages behind the scenes. Utterson is very simple and elegant and uses Unix shell scripting instead of high-level programming languages. I tried all three and ended on choosing Pelican mainly because I found a beautiful theme and it was the easiest to configure.

Hosting the blog

So now the process is this: I write my blogposts in Markdown on my laptop, then I render them to HTML with Pelican, commit and push them to my GitHub repository and then finally git pull them on my server. The process is a bit more manual then I'd prefer as I don't have direct SSH access to where I host my blog site. (I serve it from an LXC/LXD container behind an Apache proxy, but more on that later.) Pelican has built-in deployment tools that can render and deploy directly to your server over SSH. I would need to change my server infrastructure to be able to deploy in this way. This is something I will think about. It's ugly and semantically incorrect (I'll be using this phrase a lot) to keep both the markdown files and the rendered HTML in source control.

In the next few blog posts I want to write about my current server architecture/infrastructure hobby project and all the technical tidbits related to that. After all, that's why I started this blog.

I appreciate all kinds of feedback so please drop a comment or send me an email if you like what I'm dealing with or have something to say.