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Setting up Octopress

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Since I now got the blog up and running, I want to walk through the steps of setting it up and where I had to do some extra work not mentioned in the official documentation, which by the way, is a good place to start reading about Octopress.

First, I want to mention that starting an Octopress blog is not a daunting task at all. You don’t need to know Ruby, the main commands for getting it to work are already implemented for you. The files you need to modify are intuitive and structured in a logical way, and the markdown language is easy to use even if you never heard of it before ( I certainly hadn’t before starting with Octopress ). Some basic familiarity with a command shell and Git is all that’s really needed! So if you want the awesome looks and other perks of Octopress, it’s not hard at all to get them!

So, Octopress is built on top of Jekyll, which is a simple, blog-aware, static site generator based on Ruby. Jekyll is actually the engine behind GitHub Pages. Being static, it’s very fast and no myriad features that you don’t really need are cluttering up the server side. And Octopress gives you the necessary tools to customize and maintain a blog in a flexible and convenient way. It also comes loaded with plugins for many 3rd party services that you might want to use.


You need to have Git and Ruby 1.9.3 or greater before installing Octopress. You can check your Ruby version with this command: ruby —version

To start with, clone the Octopress repository and give it the name you want:

git clone git:// blogname

Then, install dependencies. I had to install the ruby1.9.1-dev package before the bundle install would work.

gem install bundler
bundle install

Next, install the default Octopress theme:

rake install


To configure your blog, you need to edit the _config.yml file. There you can add your blog URL, description categories, 3rd party integration, and other stuff.


To create a post, you run the following rake task:

rake new_post["title"]

This will create a markdown post in the source/_posts directory. Use your favorite text editor to edit it and add your post body. Markdown is really easy to use, just look at one of reference sheets available on the web to get started with it.

Similarly, if you want to create a new page, you do it like this:

rake new_page[page]

To see how your posts look:

rake preview

This will start a small server on port 4000 that will let you view your pages on your local machine. Check it out in your browser by navigating to http://localhost:4000/


To generate your blog (populate the public directory with your posts and pages) run:

rake generate

Now you are ready to deploy it. I use Github Pages for the blog. If you want it hosted on Github, there’s a rake task available for it, but first you need to create a new repository that should look like this:

Then run:

rake setup_github_pages

You will be asked for the URL of your newly created repository, which you can copy from the HTTPS or SSH URL available on its page.

After that’s done, you can deploy your generated files with:

rake deploy

This will commit your files and push them to the master branch. You will want to commit your sorce, too. In your blog directory, run these git commands:

git add .
git commit -m 'message here'
git push origin source

And now you have an awesome Octopress blog out there on the web!

Disqus comments

To enable comments, in your _config.yml file, look for these lines and change them accordingly:

disqus_short_name: your-disqus-shortname # your website shortname on disqus 
disqus_show_comment_count: true

When setting up your site on Disqus, be careful with the URL you give it. Pass it like this:

instead of this:

Because Disqus adds a trailing slash after your URL, if you also provide one, you will end up with 2 slashes and Disqus won’t work.


Google Analytics

To get Google Analytics to track your blog, all you need to do is add your tracking id in the _config.yml file:

# Google Analytics
google_analytics_tracking_id: your id

Meta tags and description

To add keywords and description for each individual post, you have to manually add them to every post (before the dashed line):

keywords: keyword 1, keyword 2
description: Description for the post

And to add keywords and description for the blog as a whole (by default, Octopress uses the ones from your latest post), edit your _config.yml file (I only had to add the keywords tag, description was already there):

decription: Your blog description
keywords: keyword 1, keyword 2

Now you need to make one final modification to generate the meta tags in your HTML. Go to your source/_includes/head.html file.

Under the author meta tag, replace this line:

line to replace

with this:

replace with this

And that’s pretty much what I had to do for this blog!

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