Deploying Pelican Blogs on VPS with Git

Notice

The method shown here is almost the same as described in this page, which is a tutorial for deploying Jekyll on DigitalOcean. I only made very minor changes so that it worked for pelican.


About static site generators


Pelican is a tool that generates static HTML sites from reStructuredText or Markdown files.1 Similar tools are Jekyll,2 hugo,3 hexo,4 and Nikola.5 The common advantage of these tools is that the generated web site is portable, fast, staic, and most importantly, easy to organize with version control systems. Among them, Jekyll is nowadays the most popular one. I also used it to write my blog in the last several years. However, I knew very little about Ruby, in which Jekyll is witten. This raised a lot of pains when I was using Jekyll. Finally I decided to turn to Pelican, which is developed with Python.

While using Jekyll, I used to keep the files in a Git repository, so that I could edit them and run local tests. After testing, the generated site files can be deplyed to VPS using git via ssh. Alternatively, raw content files can be git pushed to VPS and compiled there. For pelican, the same strategy can be used.

Installation


Basically, we want the environments be (if possible) exactly the same on VPS and local machine. Although, in my case even the python versions were different. Luckily I didn’t encounter any weird problem. Now let’s first install pelican, of course:

pip3 install pelican

Add sudo if necessary. For me the python3 version of pelican works well.

As suggested by pelican official website, I also installed typogrify and beautifulsoup4:

pip3 install typogrify beautifulsoup4

Besides, some of the pelican plugins and themes are very nice and handy. They can be easily found on Github. Usage of these stuffs are beyond the topic of this post, and thus will not be discussed here.

Setting up git on VPS and local machine


Basically, I followed this page to set up git for jekyll blogs. Pelican can be done in the same way. The key point is to create a post-receive git hook.

VPS settings

First create a git repository on VPS:

mkdir working_dir && cd working_dir
git init --bare
cd hooks
touch post-receive
chmod +x post-receive

Add the following contents to the post-receive file:

#!/bin/bash -l
GIT_REPO=$HOME/working_dir
TMP_GIT_CLONE=$HOME/tmp_dir
PUBLIC_WWW=/var/www/site_output_dir

git clone $GIT_REPO $TMP_GIT_CLONE
cd $TMP_GIT_CLONE
pelican content -s publishconf.py -o $PUBLIC_WWW
cd ..
rm -Rf $TMP_GIT_CLONE
exit

Local settings

On the local machine, add VPS as a remote to the git repository:

git remote add vps ssh://username@VPS_IP:PORT_NUM/path/to/working_dir

Once the commits are pushed to remote, the site will be generated automatically.

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