Zac Stewart

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Deploying Your Jekyll Blog On Dreamhost Via Capistrano

I’ve finally gotten around to doing something with my domain. I’m becoming quite the Git junkie these days, and I prefer to spend most of my time between my text editor and a terminal, so I started myself a Jekyll blog. I took the idea of using my favorite TextMate theme for colors from my friend Stafford (thanks!). I may rework the layout a bit, I’m not sure I’m feeling this dark one so much.

Anyway, I’ve gotten Jekyll working on my shared Dreamhosting account, and not just pushing the compiled pages to my webroot: compiling my Sass stylesheets and then compiling the static HTML pages with Jekyll and even using Pygments to generate syntax-aware HTML–all server-side.

Why did I go through all the trouble? I see this blog as source code. I didn’t want to distribute a binary. I wanted the source to be what I kept in my repo, and to compile the blog you’re reading right now from it.

But, without further ado, here’s what I did to make that happen:

Install RVM

RVM is great for keeping multiple Ruby environments organized. It’s also easy to install in your home directory and run without root permissions. I was having trouble installing Jekyll on my Dreamhost account, as the version of Ruby on the system didn’t support it. Instinctively, I ran sudo gem update --system. Oh, right, not in the sudoers file and this incident just got reported.

There’s more detailed instructions at the RVM installation page, but this is the gist:

$ bash < <(curl -s m)
$ echo '[[ -s "$HOME/.rvm/scripts/rvm" ]] && . "$HOME/.rvm/scripts/rvm" # Load RVM function' >> ~/.bash_profile
$ source .bash_profile
$ rvm install 1.9.2 # or any other current version
$ rvm use 1.9.2 --default

You can test that it’s working with ruby -v, which should yield something like ruby 1.9.2p180 (2011-02-18 revision 30909) [x86_64-linux].

Install Jekyll with Pygments for Syntax Highlighting

Getting Jekyll is easy: just gem install jekyll. If you want syntax highlighting for code blocks you need to do a little more work, though. easy_install Pygments won’t work. I played on this guide but updated it for a more recent version of Pygments.

Configure your Python Environment

$ mkdir ~/lib/python
$ echo 'export PYTHONPATH="$HOME/lib/python:/usr/lib/python2.3"' >> ~/.bash_profile
$ source ~/.bash_profile

Get and Build Pygments

$ cd ~/src
$ wget
$ tar -xvzf Pygments-1.4.tar.gz
$ cd Pygments-1.4
$ python install --home=$HOME

Make sure PATH=$PATH:~/packages/bin/:~/bin is in your .bash_profile, if not, add it and then run source ~/.bash_profile. Check that it’s working be running pygmentize.

Setup Capistrano and Deploy!

So, I’m assuming that you’re using GitHub with this guide, but you can probably figure it out if you’re not. Maybe later I’ll have a post on getting Gitosis working on Dreamhost (once I have it working well myself).

I found this Simple Capistrano recipe for Jekyll, but had to do a little work on it. Especially since I’m using Compass on my blog.


set :application,       ''
set :repository,        '[email protected]:zacstewart/'
set :scm,               :git
set :deploy_via,        :copy
set :branch,            "master"
set :copy_compression,  :gzip
set :use_sudo,          false
set :host,              ''

role :web,  host
role :app,  host
role :db,   host, :primary => true
ssh_options[:port] = 22

# this forwards your agent, meaning it will use your public key rather than your
# dreamhost account key to clone the repo. it saves you the trouble of adding that
# key to github
ssh_options[:forward_agent] = true

set :user,    'zacstewart'
set :group,   user

set(:dest) { Capistrano::CLI.ui.ask("Destination: ") }

if dest == 'dev'
  set :deploy_to,    "/home/#{user}/dev.#{application}"
elsif dest == 'www'
  set :deploy_to,    "/home/#{user}/#{application}"

namespace :deploy do

  [:start, :stop, :restart, :finalize_update].each do |t|
    desc "#{t} task is a no-op with jekyll"
    task t, :roles => :app do ; end

  # compile compass and then jekyll
  task :finalize_update do
    run "/bin/bash -c 'source ~/.bash_profile; cd #{latest_release}; compass compile -c config_prod.rb --force; jekyll;'"

Of course, you’ll need to configure it with your credentials and if you, like me, are using compass, you’ll need to change your compile task. Add ` ~/.rvm/gems/ruby-1.9.2-p180/bin/compass’;` before running jekyll.

You should be all ready to deploy now. Commit your changes, push your repo and then run cap deploy

This post is actually the first wherein I have all this set up, so I’ve undoubtedly made mistakes here. If you have something to improve, by all means, fork this blog and fix it! I’d love to accept a pull request.