Creating a Blog with Pelican

When creating this website I wanted a blog that would be written with Markdown, used no databases, and was easy to add features to. I found that the Pelican static site generator met those requirements (and it's written with Python!).

Get Pelican

You can easily use git to download the Pelican source code so we can configure it for your server (sudo yum install git if you don't have it yet).

git clone https://github.com/getpelican/pelican

I like to keep this directory around and do a git pull every once in a while to make sure I'm getting the latest and greatest version of Pelican. At the time of writing, Pelican is on version 3.6.3.

Configure it

Go in to the Pelican directory and install it's dependencies by issuing the following command:

sudo python setup.py install

Install Markdown

Since I want to write these blog posts using Markdown syntax, I needed to install the Markdown python package:

pip install Markdown

But it was already installed. Nice.

If you don't have pip, the following commands will get you there on CentOS 7:

sudo yum install epel-release

sudo yum install python-pip

Create a Pelican project

Run the quickstart command to configure your Pelican project:

pelican-quickstart

And answer away! I placed my project in another directory, "~/gridc0-pelican" so I didn't clutter the git repo. I highly recommend installing the "auto-reload and simpleHTTP script" feature to aid in development.

If you placed your project in a specific directory then cd there before continuing.

Test it

Let's create a simple test file in the content directory named test.md. The contents look like so:

Title: Markdown test
Date: 2016-09-20
Tags: Pelican, Markdown
Authors: Walt Elam
Summary: Test file for Markdown posts on Pelican

# Hello, World!

* this
* is
* a
* list

The default port that the test server will serve your website on is 8000, so we need a firewall rule to allow that traffic:

sudo firewall-cmd --zone=public --add-port=8000/tcp

You can also provide --permanent if you wish to keep that rule around for future development. Otherwise, the rule will be gone when firewalld restarts.

And finally we'll both generate and serve the content in one fell swoop with the following command:

make devserver

In a browser, visit your domain/IP address and specify port 8000 to view your blog!

http://gridc0.com:8000

Publish your site

Now that everything is working, we need to put the generated files in our web directory so that they will be served in a more normal fashion (i.e. without having to specify port 8000).

First, stop the devserver:

make stopserver

If you list the contents of the "output/" directory, you'll see a bunch of files that look like a website. That's because it is a website. Your website! Copy the contents of that directory to wherever you serve web files from, set the permissions correctly, and you should have published your website. On my default CentOS installation, the following commands were issued to move my files to the default location:

sudo rm -rf /var/www/html/*

sudo cp -R output/* /var/www/html/

And you're all set. You may wish to configure your website a bit in order to style it more to your liking and I recommend browsing the official Pelican documentation to learn more about that process.

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