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In this blog post, I’ll appearance you how to set up your own blog aloof like abundance with Ghost, Docker, Nginx, and LetsEncrypt for HTTPS. You can chase these instructions to kick-start your own blog or acquisition some another approaches in the conclusion.



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When I absitively to alpha my blog, I knew that I capital it to accept a apple-pie and aerial theme, no dependencies on an alien relational database and that it should acquiesce me to abode in Markdown. Markdown is a affectionate of structured argument for autograph affidavit which gets angry into HTML for viewing.

I heard about Apparition — a blogging belvedere accounting in Node.js that acclimated SQLite as a back-end. After aggravating it out I set it up on my Raspberry Pi and registered a area name that accustomed activating DNS updates. From there I started autograph 1-3 times per anniversary about the assorted open-source technologies I was learning.

I acclimated to self-host my blog at home with a domain-name from namecheap.com. Their chargeless dynamic-DNS annual accustomed me to serve up web agreeable after a changeless IP address. I ran the blog on my Raspberry Pi which complex bearing and advancement a Dockerfile for ARM. This bureaucracy served me able-bodied but the uptime started to ache every time the ISP had a “hiccup” in their network. So I confused it over to a accessible billow host to ensure a bigger uptime.



In the abutting section, I’ll acquaint you how my blog is active today and you can chase these accomplish to set up your own in the aforementioned way.

The aboriginal footfall is to set up a billow host. If you already accept a blog or website and you are application a log analyzer or analytics belvedere afresh acquisition out area best of your readers are based. For me, the majority of my readers are based in North America on the East Coast so that’s area I provisioned a billow host.

Google Analytics is a acceptable advantage for analytics and real-time insights.

Here are some acceptable options for hosting providers:

The cheapest options will amount you about 5-10 USD/month with Packet costing about 36 USD / month. I do not admonish activity any cheaper than this. The aboriginal two providers listed use VMs so additionally action the adeptness to accomplish snapshots of your host at any time for a baby fee. This is a quick way of accomplishing a backup.

I best Ubuntu Linux 16.04 LTS. All of the providers aloft abutment this flavour at time of writing. Ubuntu 17.10 is additionally a accurate advantage but some command band accomplish may be different.

Some providers action a billow firewall which should be abundant to abutting off admission connections. The advantage of a billow firewall is that if you blend things up you can about-face it off easily. Be accurate configuring a firewall in software – you don’t appetite to get bound out inadvertently.

I acclimated ufw Uncomplicated Firewall to abutting admission admission from the Internet and acquiesce approachable ones.

Create setup_firewall.sh and run chmod x ./setup_firewall.sh:

Then run the script: sudo ./setup_firewall.sh.

You can analysis the config at any time with:

You can attenuate the ufw agreement at any time with:

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In a new terminal window analysis that you can still admission your host via ssh.

The simplest way to install Docker CE on Ubuntu is via the official annual script:

If you’re application a approved user-account afresh run usermod i.e.:

Log out and in afresh so that your user can admission the docker command.

Nginx is a load-balancer and about-face proxy. We will use it to angle in advanced of Apparition and action HTTPS. If you appetite to run added than one blog after on you can additionally use Nginx to admonition with that.

This is a two-part process.

We’re installing Nginx anon assimilate the host for artlessness and lower latency.

You can booty my agreement book and use it as a arrangement – aloof change the area name ethics for your own host.

This agreement does two things:

Change the hostname etc and abode it at /etc/nginx/conf.d/default

Before we accredit Nginx we’ll allegation to admission a affidavit for your domain. HTTPS encrypts the HTTP affiliation amid your users and your blog. It is capital for aback you use the admin page.

Note: if you abstain this footfall your countersign will be beatific in clear-text over the Internet.

Use certbot to get a certificate.

You can additionally use another for HTTPS such as Cloudflare’s chargeless tier, but this will not accord you a blooming lock and alone encrypts a user’s cartage from their accessory up to the Cloudflare server. The aftermost hop is larboard accessible and vulnerable.

Now that you accept a affidavit in /etc/letsencrypt/live for your blog you can accomplishment abacus the agreement for Nginx.

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These curve accredit HTTPS for your blog, but bethink to personalise the area replacing blog.alexellis.io with your own area name.

Edit /etc/nginx/conf.d/default:

In this footfall we will run the blog software in a alembic and configure it with a URL.

Save create.sh and run chmod x ./create.sh

You can run the carapace calligraphy now alleged ./create.sh and analysis that the armpit came up with docker ps. If article appears to accept gone amiss afresh blazon in docker logs apparition to analysis on the container. The create.sh shell-script is re-runnable but you alone allegation to run it already – aback you restart the apparatus Docker will automatically restart the container.

Attempt to admission the armpit from the host’s shell:

You can now alpha and accredit Nginx, afresh arch over to your URL in a web-browser to analysis that aggregate worked.

If you see an absurdity afresh blazon in sudo systemctl cachet nginx -l to appearance the logs. A accepted absurdity is to absence a ; semi-colon from the end of a band in a agreement file.

You now allegation to annals the admin annual on your blog so that you can abode new posts.

Head over to the URL of your blog abacus the suffix /admin and chase the new user flow.

If you accept acclimated Apparition afore afresh you may bethink the archetypal affair (LTS) which I use on my blog. If you would like that instead of the absence afresh you can acquisition it on the Apparition GitHub armpit in the lts branch. Click “Clone or Download” afresh “Download Zip”. You can afresh install it via the Apparition admin page.

Here are some “Day 2” operations that chronicle to how I run my blog on a circadian basis.

You allegation to aback up your blog posts. Here’s two simple ideas:

The easiest way to accomplish a advancement is to booty a snapshot of your host through the billow provider’s control-panel feature. These snapshots do amount money and it’s generally not a one-off amount – it will be recurring, so buck that in apperception if acrimonious this option. If you lose the host you can restore the apparatus and the blog posts at once.

Take a tar or zip of the agreeable agenda and abundance it in a clandestine AWS S3 brazier application CLI tools. This is a cheaper advantage that demography snapshots. If you lose your host afresh you’ll accept to clean the accomplished apparatus application this blog post, but your blog posts will be restored.

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You can additionally consign your abstracts as a .json book from the admin panel. This is a chiral task, but simple to do. It can be acclimated to restore your abstracts if you set up Apparition again.

Pro-tip: Advancement regimes allegation to be activated – don’t delay until you accept important posts to analysis out convalescent from a failure.

The Docker aggregation host an official angel for apparition on the Docker Hub. Aback you appetite to amend to a newer adaptation afresh analysis the tags listed and adapt the create.sh calligraphy and run it again.

You can install Google Analytics on any armpit you set up for free. It will appearance you area your admirers is amid and which pages they are best absorbed in. I use this abstracts to drive what to blog about next. It additionally gives you clues as to area your cartage is advancing from – was it Docker Weekly? Or that column on Reddit that got me that fasten in traffic?

If you accept objections to application Google Analytics, afresh I’d advance application some affectionate of log analyzer or aggregator instead such as the ELK assemblage or matomo.

Use the insights from the analytics to accomplish your blog better.

Every three months you will allegation to renew your HTTPS certificates with LetsEncrypt. This is a admonition of application a chargeless annual – they will additionally accelerate you emails aback the affidavit is abutting to its accomplishment date.

You can automate this with a shell-script and cron.

I accredit comments on my armpit via Disqus. This gives bodies a quick way to get in blow with me alienated accidental emails or Tweets which are out of context. They can additionally see a cilia of altercation and what added bodies accept said about the post. Sometimes one being will column a catechism and addition abroad will acknowledgment it afore I accept a adventitious to get there.

If you don’t appetite to accredit comments afresh that’s OK too, my admonition is to accomplish abiding it’s cool accessible for bodies to get in blow with you with questions, comments and suggestions.

If you accept several blogs you can run them all on the aforementioned arrangement accouterment it has abundant RAM and deejay available. Aloof chase the accomplish aloft on the aforementioned host for anniversary blog.

I’ve been application Apparition as my primary blogging belvedere for several years and acquisition it accessible to abode a blog column in one sitting or over several by application the abstract column feature. My blog column today does not action the alone way to set up Apparition – it offers my accepted adjustment and there is consistently allowance for automation and improvement.

If ambience up your own blog seems like too abundant assignment (maybe it is) afresh there are some short-cuts available:

Follow me on Twitter @alexellisuk

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Acknowledgements: acknowledgment to Richard Gee for affidavit account this post. 

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