Automating This Blog - Part 2

When I started writing this blog, I had put aside a spare Raspberry Pi as kind of “dev” server. A place I could freely install stuff, test out code and run my Ansible playbooks. The main reason to keep this separate from the server which runs all my services was because there was limited disk space on the server1.

One of the biggest challenges was to keep my version of hugo up-to-date and to remember not to publish my blog entries with the draft switch enabled2. I also wanted to get off the dev server and having to remember which internal IP I need to point at to see the preview.

Then I remembered, I already have my own domain setup in my home-network where I could host the preview! All the Docker containers on my server are already connected to a traefik container, which takes care of routing the subdomains to the relevant container IPs3. All I have to do is add a label to a Docker container with the right subdomain and as soon as it starts up, traefik will reverse-proxy that subdomain to the container’s exposed IP address.

So I created my own hugo Docker container. It’s very simple and I’m sure there are plenty of better ways to do it, but this works for me just fine4:

FROM ubuntu:20.04

ENV HUGO_VERSION=0.74.3
ENV HUGO_BASEURL=http://localhost/
ENV HUGO_ENV=production

RUN apt update && apt install -y \
        curl \
        git \
    && curl -SL https://github.com/gohugoio/hugo/releases/download/v${HUGO_VERSION}/hugo_${HUGO_VERSION}_Linux-64bit.tar.gz \
        -o /tmp/hugo.tar.gz \
    && tar -xzf /tmp/hugo.tar.gz -C /tmp \
    && mv /tmp/hugo /usr/local/bin/ \
    && apt remove curl -y \
    && apt autoremove -y \
    && mkdir -p /src \
    && rm -rf /tmp/*

WORKDIR /src

EXPOSE 1313

ARG HUGO_ENV=production
USER 1000:1000
ENTRYPOINT ["/usr/local/bin/hugo"]
CMD ["serve", "-e ${HUGO_ENV}", "--bind=0.0.0.0", "--appendPort=false"]

This will, by default render a production version of my site, excluding drafts, future and expired posts. When creating the container in Portainer, I can override the HUGO_ENV variable to development to see drafts, etc. This led me to have two of this container running: One, which I can use for editing and previews and another to see what the finished site will look like before I publish. A kind of dev and beta environment if you will. To make them easier to distinguish (apart from the URI), I also overrode the name of the site in my development config file to put DEV in front of the name. As long as I remember to check the beta version of the site, I should forget that pesky draft switch again!

The final bonus came when I rememberd that the CMD section can be completely overriden when creating a container. Since the hugo commmand itself is quite useful for scaffolding new posts, etc, I didn’t want to miss out on that just because I don’t have it installed directly on my server. So I now have a script that can do this, though it’s just as simple to do something like this in a script:

#! /bin/bash

docker run --rm -t -v `pwd`:/src pkuehne/hugo $*

Call the script hugo and you can do things like: ./hugo new post/a-new-post.md (note the leading ./).

I’m very happy with this new setup, though upgrading to the latest version of hugo has not been without complications. I was about 20 versions behind, which meant that I had to review every single page to make sure it still rendered OK. So if you’re subscribing via RSS, apologies for any posts that appear as new when they’re clearly not!


  1. And playing around on a server always leads to more apt bloat! [return]
  2. My git commit history will show you what I mean. [return]
  3. I’m still running v1, don’t judge me, the upgrade is far more stressful than my current situation allows 😱 [return]
  4. Correct at time of goint to print, you can see the latest version here [return]