Ronny Lam


Octopress, Heroku and the Raspberry Pi

Untill yesterday this blog was hosted on Scriptogram. Service however, was degrading rapidly and communication from the owner(s) was totally absent. The good thing about my Scriptogram experience was that I was getting used to writing my blogs in Markdown. This makes it really easy to move your files around. The combination with Dropbox helps a little, but is not mandatory for a good workflow.

Searching for alternatives I considered using my Raspberry Pi to serve my blog, but upstream bandwidth and performance of the Pi made me look further.

  • Secondcrack was my first alternative, but had to be hosted on the Pi.
  • Calepin is similar to Scriptogram, but with a lot less options for theming.
  • Markbox is a service also similar to Scriptogram, markdown files served from a Dropbox. The service is still in Beta and I received an invite to try. But it was still too buggy and I was missing some flexibility.
  • Skrivr look very, very nice, but I did not yet get an invite.
  • Octopress based on Jekyll, a static file blog generator and has the ability to deploy on Github and Heroku.

I chose the last option, which combines my Raspberry Pi as the build and preview platform and deploy on Heroku. Setting the whole thing up is fairly easy when you follow the Octopress documentation. But there was one thing missing in the default install which I came very dependent on and that was linked posts. For that to use I had to checkout either the linklog or 2.1 branch from Github.

Working with markdown makes your blog very portable, but every site uses a different scheme for the header including the filename. This migration took me a while, rewriting the header with some scripts and rewriting the filename. After this was all done the site would not build, without telling me which of my 230 markdown files broke it. Building that amount on my Pi takes 10 minutes so figuring that out took me a while. In the end it seemed to double use of quotation marks.

So now I am very happy with this setup, building my site on the Pi and deploying it to Heroku. The first instance on Heroku is free, making this a very flexible hosting solution with all the options and flexibility I was looking for. And in my opinion, Octopress looks very nice.