rui lopes notebook

Bootstrapping your GitHub Pages blog with Vagrant

This will show you a way of creating a Vagrant Virtual Machine with the tools needed for generating a blog based on the GitHub Pages stack. GitHub Pages uses the Jekyll static site generator. This VM will use the same version of the tools that are currently in use at GitHub.

The base Vagrant box is based on the one created in From Iso To Vagrant Box post (read it first) but with a Xubuntu desktop.

You need to modify the base box to install the xubuntu-desktop package. For that, modify the preseed pkgsel/include line to include its package name:

vi preseed.txt
d-i pkgsel/include string openssh-server, xubuntu-desktop

Build the image, and add it to Vagrant:

packer build ubuntu-14.10.json
vagrant box add xubuntu-14.10-amd64

Create the Vagrantfile that provisions the GitHub Pages tools:

# -*- mode: ruby -*-
# vi: set ft=ruby :

$root_provision_script = <<'ROOT_PROVISION_SCRIPT'
# abort this script on errors.
set -eux

# prevent apt-get et al from opening stdin.
# NB even with this, you'll still get some warnings that you can ignore:
#     dpkg-preconfigure: unable to re-open stdin: No such file or directory
export DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive

# install javascript support for Jekyll.
# See
apt-get -y install software-properties-common
apt-add-repository -y ppa:chris-lea/node.js
apt-get update
apt-get -y install nodejs

# install git. we'll use it to later push the blog to github.
apt-get -y install git

# install ungit. a web-based gui for git.
npm install -g ungit

# install retext. a Markdown editor.
apt-get -y install retext

# install ruby. Jekyll is a ruby application.
apt-get -y install ruby-dev ruby

# install dependencies needed for the gems.
apt-get -y install zlib1g-dev

# install Jekyll -- the version that is currently hosted by GitHub.
gem install --verbose github-pages

Vagrant.configure(2) do |config| = "xubuntu-14.10-amd64"

  config.vm.hostname = "pages"

  config.vm.provider "virtualbox" do |vb|
    vb.gui = true

  config.vm.provision "shell", inline: $root_provision_script

NB This blog has a similar Vagrantfile.

Enter the VM and generate a SSH key-pair:

vagrant ssh
cat ~/.ssh/

Add the public key (the content of the file) into your GitHub account at:

Also create a new empty repository named after your username, e.g.

NB From here on I’ll use example as your username.

Setup git:

git config --global "Example Doe"
git config --global [email protected]
git config --global push.default simple
git config --list

Test that it works:

Initialize the blog:

git clone [email protected]:example/
jekyll new .

Start the server:

jekyll serve

And access the blog at:


At another shell, open a file, edit and save it:

vi blog/

After you save a file Jekyll should re-generate the blog. To see the result just refresh the browser page.

When you are ready, push the changes to the world:

git add --all
git commit -m 'Hello World!'
git push

After a couple of minutes the blog should be live at:

And that’s it!