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Getting Started with the Blog

·722 words·4 mins

Why this post? Because I decided to change the style of how I was hosting my blog. Before I had decided to just host the blog on something that was easy to get to and update. I could have kept on blogging there, but I found making blog posts a little bit more difficult than what I wanted to. I also wanted to learn some of the new ways of doing things within networking technologies.

With this, I decided to bring my blog over to a static site generator. I’m not doing anything significantly crazy with a blog site, other than hopefully creating some useful content. So static site generation brought me over to Github.

What I wanted to accomplish #

What I wanted to accomplish with my blog:

  • Create some useful content that others may find helpful
  • Leverage Markdown for quick document creation (Previous site was time consuming in my mind to create content, but it did get a start)
  • If possible, figure out how to appropriately handle CI/CD
  • Maybe, maybe, look to moving to a Python static site generator, since I am doing most of my own work in Python. Perhaps GoLang if there is such a thing in that sphere. We will see.

The first four posts on this page are pieces that I was able to quickly move over from the previous blogging platform over to the markdown flavor. This explains the timing of this post with having older posts on the blog.

Evaluation #

I originally started with Gitlab, knowing that they had a good exposure of the CI/CD process and had it all integrated. I didn’t want to try to integrate a different solution into the Github arena if possible. I tried originally forking the jekyll format over, but this didn’t get going well. The CSS never quite made it into the page, so I was frustrated and decided to try Github.

Over at Github, I could start to get the content, and as soon as I would push a new commit to master I would get an email a few minutes later saying that the build had failed. No other helpful information in the email, just that the Jekyll build had failed. After about four of these messages I decided to try just doing Jekyll on a new VM host of my own and see if I could get it working there.

Decision Making #

I started with a fresh Jekyll page, and immediately things came right up. Finally some progress! Eventually, I found my way to the Jekyll Quickstart/Docs, following that tutorial and looking at other blogging pages on various Github/Gitlab pages I figured out the structure a little bit more.

I then cloned the repository from Gitlab pages to my local instance and gave it a run. The default page showed immediately. From there I went ahead and copied my posts into the _posts directory and the content was right there. I decided to push the content to my Gitlab pages and low and behold it worked there as well! I was in business.

SSL and Custom Domain #

There are lots of articles all over the web on how to do a custom domain on Gitlab pages. So I’m not going to provide details, but high level:

  • Make sure your repository name is <userid>
  • Point your DNS records at Gitlab and away you go

SSL was a little more tricky. I had found an “official” link from Gitlab, but that was not helpful to me. I couldn’t get the certificate information to show up with Let’s Encrypt. I eventually came across this blog on how to do certificates with Let’s Encrypt via Gitlab pages. Once I completed the work done described there, I was able to get my certificates from Let’s Encrypt, and I now have a SSL blog.

Final Decision: Gitlab Pages #

At that point, I finally had a page out on the web and am at the point that I am now. I’m going to continue to evolve what the pages will look like. I’ve still got some more to learn about how to get Jekyll in the right setup. Maybe a trip to using Python Pelican to build a flavor. But for now, I have a place where I can post material, and so far with writing this post, things are much quicker.