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Deploying Jekyll on a Linode VM via GitHub Actions

Github Actions Header

In my GitHub Actions, “Getting your feet wet”, guide series I went over how to build a docker container, automatically updating it using a app called Diun, deploying the container update to a VM in Linode, and creating a releasable binary. All based on the web server I use for my homelab, Caddy. This post was not originally planned to be apart of the series but I am including it as an example of a more, “advanced”, actions deployment. By default Jekyll deploys to GitHub Pages which is really nice if you do not want to spin up your own web server.

For me though I wanted to host it myself. The process for this was mostly straight forward as Jekyll already includes the ability to self host. The diagram below demonstrates the GitHub Actions flow for both the default deployment to pages and my deployment to a Linode VM.

Actions Workflow Workflows for deploying Jekyll via GitHub Actions

If you want to use the actions file below you will need the following items completed beforehand.

  • Cloned / Setup a Jekyll blog in a repository on GitHub.
  • Have a VM running that is accessible by SSH from the internet (WAN).
    • I recommend Linode if you are just starting out.
  • Have a user account created on the VM for actions to log into via SSH.
    • You can check out my post, here, which details this process.
  • Have a domain registered and pointing to the public (WAN) IP of the VM.
  • Have a web server installed and setup to serve from the directory the blog will be in.
    • I am using Caddy to serve the blog directory.
  • Repository secrets setup:
    • LINODEFINGERPRINT = ssh host fingerprint
    • LINODEHOST = hostname/wan ip of the VM
    • LINODEUSER = username actions needs for login
    • LINODESSHKEY = ssh private key for above user
    • DISCORD_WEBHOOK = text channel webhook url. Only needed if you use the notify job.

GitHub Actions workflow for deploying the Jekyll blog:

I am using the Chirpy theme for Jekyll. The files / directories being copied in the build step may be different for the theme you are using! I was also having some odd issues so these file / directory copies may not be necessary.

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name: 'Deploy Blog'
on:
  push:
    branches:
      - main
    paths-ignore:
      - .gitignore
      - README.md
      - LICENSE
  workflow_dispatch:

jobs:
  # build and create the jekyll blog artifact
  # include 'skip ci' in commit message to not run this workflow
  build:
    if: "github.ref == 'refs/heads/main' && !contains(github.event.head_commit.message, 'skip ci')"
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    steps:
      - name: checkout repo
        uses: actions/[email protected]
        with:
          fetch-depth: 0  # for posts's lastmod
      - name: setup ruby
        uses: ruby/[email protected]
        with:
          ruby-version: 2.7
          bundler-cache: true
      - name: build production
        env:
          _config: _config.yml
          _baseurl: 
        run: JEKYLL_ENV=production bundle exec jekyll b --incremental
      - name: copy required files
        run: |
          cp -r _data _site/data
          cp -r _plugins _site/plugins
          cp -r _tabs _site/tabs
          cp _config.yml _site/config.yml
      - name: upload blog
        uses: actions/[email protected]
        with:
          path: _site/*
          retention-days: 1

  # grab the build artifact and test it using htmlproofer
  test:
    needs: build
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    steps:
      - name: download blog
        uses: actions/[email protected]
        with:
          name: artifact
          path: _site/
      - name: test production site
        uses: chabad360/[email protected]
        with:
          directory: "_site/"
          arguments: --disable-external --check-html --allow_hash_href=true

  # grab artifact if test job is successful and deploy it using rsync
  deploy:
    needs: test
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    steps:
      - name: download blog artifact
        uses: actions/[email protected]
        with:
          name: artifact
          path: _site/
      - name:
        run: |
          mkdir ~/.ssh
          touch ~/.ssh/known_hosts
          echo ${{ secrets.LINODEFINGERPRINT }} >> ~/.ssh/known_hosts
      - name: deploy blog
        uses: burnett01/[email protected]
        with:
          switches: -avr
          path: _site/
          remote_path: /opt/sites/blog/
          remote_host: ${{ secrets.LINODEHOST }}
          remote_port: 22
          remote_user: ${{ secrets.LINODEUSER }}
          remote_key: ${{ secrets.LINODESSHKEY }}

  # use nobrayner/discord-webhook action to notify status. 
  # delete this job if you do not want to use it.
  notify:
    name: notify
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    needs:
      - build
      - test
      - deploy
    if: ${{ always() }}
    steps:
      - name: send notif discord
        uses: nobrayner/[email protected]
        with:
          github-token: ${{ secrets.github_token }}
          discord-webhook: ${{ secrets.DISCORD_WEBHOOK }}
          include-details: 'true'
          color-success: '#7ED321'
          color-failure: '#D0021B'
          color-cancelled: '#9013FE'
          avatar-url: 'https://octodex.github.com/images/Terracottocat_Single.png'
          title: '${{ github.workflow }}'
          description: '${{ github.workflow }} was triggered. It returned status: {{STATUS}}'

Workflow file for deleting artifacts to save GitHub storage space:

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# trigger workflow to run after listed workflows are run
name: 'Delete Old Artifacts'
on:
  workflow_run:
    workflows: [Deploy Blog, Deploy Blog (DEV)]
    types:
      - completed

# delete all leftover artifacts since GitHub's lowest retention time period is 24 hours
jobs:
  delete-artifacts:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    steps:
      - uses: kolpav/[email protected]
        with:
          token: ${{ secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN }}
          expire-in: 0 # Setting this to 0 will delete all artifacts

Caddyfile example:

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{
        email email@email.com
#       acme_ca https://acme-staging-v02.api.letsencrypt.org/directory
        debug
        log {
                output file /var/log/caddy/caddy.log {
                        roll_size 12mb
                        roll_keep 10
                        roll_keep_for 24h
                }
                format json {
                        message_key msg
                        level_key debug
                        time_key ts
                        name_key name
                        time_format wall
                }
        }
}

(tls) {
        tls {
                dns cloudflare {env.CF_API_KEY}
        }
}

blog.alexsguardian.net {
        import tls
        root * /opt/sites/blog/
        file_server
        handle_errors {
                rewrite * /404.html
                file_server
        }
}

This post is merely an example for the GitHub Actions guide series. I actually use the above workflow to deploy this blog from GitHub so it does work! If you have any questions, or a suggestion, feel free to reach out via a comment or email!


FTC: Some links in this post are income generating.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.

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