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Setting Up Your Own Blog Hosted on Github

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I recently shifted from having a static page as my github.io link to making a blog out of the default .io page for my Github account. I found it pretty cool to be able to push stuff through markdown (although even that formatting is configurable under Rakefile of octopress source code).

So here’s a really short post on how to set it up.

Step 0: Make sure you have a github account and a suitable repo

Make an account on this github website

..and then, make a new repository on github, called <username>.github.io

Reference: I have a repo called: http://github.com/arcolife/arcolife.github.io

Step 1: Get your gear!

Make sure you have git and ruby installed in your command line environment.

I had the following versions:

  • ruby 2.2.5p319 (2016-04-26 revision 54774) [x86_64-linux]

    Although lower versions (such as 1.9) might work too.

  • git version 2.5.5

Step 2: Get octopress

  • Download the repository under a suitable location on your disk:
git clone git://github.com/imathis/octopress.git octopress
cd octopress/
  • Next, if you run bundle install && rake install, then IIRC, you’d get a failure. If not, then the almighty Gods are with you on this lad ..else, make a change to group:development in Gemfile by adding the following:
  gem 'json_pure', '~> 1.8.3'

This is because when I tried to install the requirements, I got an error and a recommendation to add the above. Refer to this file under my repo, if in doubt.

Be advised that this micro-step may not be necessary in future releases or in your environment.

  • Now install requirements along with octopress itself: bundle install && rake install

Step 3: Connect your username.github.io with octopress

Run this:

rake setup_github_pages

Follow the instructions and supply input as asked.

This would clone and download your repo to a folder called source and change your branch from master to source. You should check this with git remove -v. I got something like this:

octopress    git://github.com/imathis/octopress.git (fetch)
octopress git://github.com/imathis/octopress.git (push)
origin        https://github.com/arcolife/arcolife.github.io (fetch)
origin        https://github.com/arcolife/arcolife.github.io (push)

and on running git branch it should display * source.

If you then do a git status you’d get something like this:

your branch is based on 'origin/master', but the upstream is gone.
(use "git branch --unset-upstream" to fixup)

..which is fine. Let’s move on to next step.

Side note: However, if in case, this fails to change your branch to source, i.e, you don’t have your username under urls of origin in your output of git remote -v ..then you’d have to do this step manually like this:

git remote add origin git@github.com:arcolife/arcolife.github.com.git
git branch -m master source
git branch

This should now display * source.

Step 4: Try running in preview mode

rake preview

This should start a server on http://localhost:4000 and you should be able to view a default colorful octopress page.

Step 5 (optional): Deciding where to keep the default blog

Check this out

Mine is with default settings so I haven’t tried this out.

Step 6: Push your changes to github and deploy the blog

rake generate

git add .
git commit -am "init github based octopress"
git push origin source

rake deploy

This might take upto 5 mins sometimes or may be a matter of few seconds depending on how the update job runs and the load on github servers. Refresh and check in intervals.

Step 7: A new post

rake new_post["My first post"]

This would generate a new post and display a message like this:

mkdir -p source/_posts
Creating new post: source/_posts/2016-06-12-my-first-post.markdown

Edit that file and write up a post using markdown format. Repeast steps in Step 6 to deploy.

Step 8: Tweaks quickstart

Some of these tips are well covered under Octopress' blogging basics and under octopress' github README config section but just pointing them out for quickstart references:

Configure blog name and other basics

Open _config.yml and edit the following:


repeat steps from Step 6 to see changes live on your username.github.io

Linking your octopress blog with social networks

Edit _config.yml and edit the following (change your usernames accordingly):

  • Github:
github_user: arcolife
github_repo_count: 5
  • Google Plus:
googleplus_user: +ArchitSharma1337
  • Twitter: (read more below under Adding asides section on adding twitter feed)
twitter_user: arcolife
+twitter_show_replies: false
+twitter_follow_button: true
+twitter_show_follower_count: false
  • For facebook like on posts:
facebook_like: true

Images in post

If you wanna insert images, add them under source/images and you could either:

  • Refer to their path either like this:

    ![Sample image caption](https://raw.githubusercontent.com/username/username.github.io/master/images/sample.png)

    Replace username with your github username, and images/sample.png with whatever path your images are in, under source/

  • Or give a relative path like this:

    ![Image caption](../images/sample.png)

The second option is hackish & works based on your directory structure. There are other ways of doing this as well

Adding asides (panel contents)

Edit _config.yml as follows:

blog_index_asides:  [custom/asides/about.html, asides/recent_posts.html, asides/github.html, asides/googleplus.html]
post_asides:        [custom/asides/about.html, asides/recent_posts.html, asides/github.html,  asides/googleplus.html]

You could add your custom asides / make changes to layout from files under source/_includes folder. For example, to add your twitter feed, you’d wanna take a look at this blog post which tells you how to add that and why it was removed as a default.

Google analytics

This is to track location/count of visitors to your website. Open _config.yml and edit the following:

google_analytics_tracking_id: <add your ID here>

You’d need to have an account on this google analytics website to get an ID. There’s a limit on number of free IDs allotted to your google account. Check out the T&Cs on their website.

Comments in blog posts

If you wanna enable Disqus based comments, you need to have an account on this disqus admin website and add the url <username>.github.io under trusted domains on https://<disqus admin username>.disqus.com/admin/settings/advanced/ and you need to configure your community name (which is nothing but a setting for your site) under https://<disqus admin username>.disqus.com/admin/settings/general/

Adding a static website under your github website

If you’d like to link up a static content (fully supporting it’s own html/css layout), just add them under source/<new_dir>/ and you should be able to access that under username.github.io/<new_dir>

Then, go ahead and edit _config.yml and edit the following:

disqus_short_name: arcolife
disqus_show_comment_count: true

Working on drafts, disabling comments and adding categories

When you’re writing a blog post, change true/false or add categories to your _posts/.md as shown below:

comments: true
published: true
categories: [RHEL, Linux, Microservices]

A push to github with published: false means the markdown has been safely committed to source branch on your repo, but the post is not publicly visible. This way you could keep working on the file and change to true when it’s ready.

All that said, I still haven’t added an ‘about’ section to my post, or moved it under a custom blog/ folder successfully. Or changed the default page to something else or made changes to default theme. If you’ve done that, please add a comment here on how you did it or a link to it if you’ve blogged about it. Would save me some time eh! :)

Thats it for now folks!

Share it across, post a comment if you’d like to add something to this post, or want any edits made or found a flaw in the flow or would simply like to let me know if this helped.