drawing of a server-room

I set up my own site on my own domain (eke.li) back in January of this year (2023) I have made some blogs years ago on different platforms, but this time I had my own domain and set up my own node in Linode. I chose WordPress as my platform - it’s big, well-known, and I had used it before.

I’ve now decided that Wordpress is just a lot more functionality than I need. This site is just a place for me to write down my thoughts, and I don’t need a full-blown CMS for that. I also don’t want to have to worry about security updates, keeping the site updated, templates, add-ons and such. I want to focus on writing, not on maintaining another site.

I believe most of the web could be very well-served by just static files (html, css and javascript can do amazing things). And, this is coming from me as a backend-developer! When you need state to change you need a server, but that’s not a need for me.

I have decided to just write these posts and put them out as static files on a server. I already had my Linode Nano -node that served my instance, and could have re-used that. But, for my needs even having a server is far too much power. I don’t need to run a server 24/7, and I don’t need to pay for it. I just need to be able to serve some static files on URLs.

I quite like writing HTML directly, but MarkDown is easier to write. And, repeating headers and footers in every file by hand gets tiresome. This tells me I need a tool to create the static html/css/js from my markdown -files. And by doing it at compile-time the server can just serve the static files.

I have also been paying for monthly backups of my Linode -node, just in case; but I’d much rather just have my text in a git repository. By using a simple text-format instead of entering the text into a CMS and having that store it in a database I can write my posts in any editor I want, and I can use git to track changes. This future-safes my site as all my “content” is available in git, and in this case on GitHub.

All this lead me to set up a Jekyll -powered site, running on GitHub pages. I moved all my posts from WordPress over into markdown, and set up automatic deployment of my new github-repository. This way I can use git to publish my posts, and I don’t have to worry about servers at all!

It was a little fiddly setting up DNS correctly to direct requests to my domain to where this site is hosted. I had to set up a CNAME -record (essentially a redirect) pointing to the github-pages hostname I was assigned, and since I want requests to the “naked” domain to be redirected to this www -subdomain I also had to set up A and AAAA records pointing to github’s servers. I could have set up a server on the “naked” -domain to do the re-direct, but this way I don’t have to worry about even that.

The one thing I am lacking now, that I had, is some analytics. I am not a fan of all the tracking that goes on on the web, but I did get some personal satisfaction seeing that someone read my posts (I never had anything beyond a simple count of served pages). This is a pittance, though - I will not add any tracking to this site, dear reader. I will just have to be satisfied with the knowledge that I am writing for myself, and that I am publishing my thoughts for anyone to read.

So, this is my first post on my new blog. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you will come back for more. All old links should keep working (as is good and proper).

If you have any comments please reach out to me on any of the socials in the footer of this page. I’d love to hear from you.

Addendum: Daniel Schroeder reached out to me and pointed me to his very similar experience, which he wrote about in his post Migrating my blog from WordPress to Jekyll and GitHub Pages. It’s a more thorough write-up, and he goes further in setting up a way to handle comments through pull-requests and adding analytics.