Setting up a Jekyll site (yet another tutorial)

You will find many such tutorials on the web, but this one is specifically geared for physics grad students at the University of Arizona.

First, install Jekyll. If you have Ruby set up on your computer, this should be as simple as doing:

gem install jekyll

Then make a new website with it:

jekyll new mywebsite

Then change to the website directory and serve it locally to live-preview changes - go to http://localhost:4000 on your browser.

cd mywebsite
jekyll serve

In the _posts directory, you can type up your blog entries in markdown, with the following format: year-month-date-title.md. For example, this entry is titled: 2016-03-07-setting-up-a-jekyll-site-yet-another-tutorial.md.

What if you don’t have the time to blog? Well, neither do I, but following the advice of Matt Might, I can perform ‘low-cost academic blogging’ by putting up the following on my website:

These are just a few examples, you can of course put whatever you want :)

Also, if you don’t want to deal with blog posts and dates and such, and just want to have pages, it turns out that you can do so by just creating new directories with markdown files in them. For example, if you are teaching Physics 141 and want to have a webpage for it, you can just make a directory called teaching, and place a markdown file called phys141.md in it. Jekyll will automatically parse it into appropriate pages.

There are a few quirks in deploying your webpage to the UA physics server, bohr (you have to change the base url in a certain way, etc) - you can do so by changing a couple of variables in the _config.yml file:

url: http://www.physics.arizona.edu/~username

# fixes finicky URLs with bohr
baseurl: /~username

# If you want pages on your website in addition to blog posts
gems: [jekyll-paginate]

# Makes the links look pretty
permalink: pretty

# Enables incremental rebuilding - so you don't have to regenerate the # whole site when you just add a single post (significantly speeds things up)

incremental: true

If you’re a UA physics grad student trying to set up a website on bohr, you can do so by doing the following:

ssh username@physics.arizona.edu
(enter your password)
makehome

This makes a public_html folder that you can put your website in, and you can access it with physics.arizona.edu/~username.

You can deploy your jekyll website to this public_html folder with a simple script.

#!/bin/sh

sudo jekyll serve --detach
rsync -crz --delete _site/ username@physics.arizona.edu:public_html/
ps aux|grep jekyll|awk '{print $2}'|tail -n 1|xargs sudo kill -9

The first line generates your website and detaches the jekyll server. The second pushes your website to bohr. The third line kills the jekyll process for you automatically (so you don’t have to manually kill the process with kill -9 PID)

Tip 1 You can automate the creation of blog posts with scripts in the language of your choice. I use the shell script posted here, but a quick Google search should reveal other methods, some are Python scripts, some are Vim packages, whatever floats your boat :)

Tip 2 One of the strong suits of static site generators like Jekyll is that they work well with version control. So I would suggest putting this website as a Github repository, and writing a script to commit and push changes whenever you add new stuff! In fact, the source code for this website is on Github as well, you may want to check it out to help set up your website. (I use Hakyll instead of Jekyll now, but the same principles apply.)