immanetize blog!

the static site generator

After trying a number of FLOSS CMS projects, I've settled on Nikola [1]. It's simple to manage, easy to write for, supports translation ie Transifex [2], and static HTML means low server overhead and decreased attack surface.

Nikola is a very active project, with frequent releases for bugfixes and cool new features. I'm writing in ReStructuredText [3], familiar to most from GitHub by now, but there is support for a wide variety of source formats. Overall, I'm very happy with it so far, and there's a ton of features I haven't investigated yet.

the pushing of bits

To manage the content and the site template, git comes in to play (and let's be honest, I default to using git for everything at this point.) Nikola very nicely separates content from structure and presentation, so you can use separate repos; useful for a group that wants to have different permissions for each.

I've deployed the site to a vps [4] using ansible, including command-locked ssh keys to refresh content via cron jobs. Admittedly, that's probably overkill for a personal blog, but it's comforting to know that the effort required to deploy an updated site isn't much more than git merge production;git push --all. Migration to another VPS would be as simple as changing the target of a playbook and running it.

the composition of content

Content has always been the hard part for me. I can write howtos for procedures, like what's being used for this site (and you probably will see that howto, soon!) To publicly opine is a different story, though. As much as I appreciate constructive criticism, I've never been a big fan of unsolicited advice. As my community involvement has increased, however, I see the role of such things. There's a lot to be learned from the folks sharing on sites like Fedora Planet [5].

the ulterior motive

Put simply, search ranking. Not in the way you're thinking, though; I'm not after referral revenue or pride of place at the top of Google results. It's always bothered me to search for technical information only to find linkbait and outdated or even horribly ill-advised content.

It's become more than a pet peeve since joining Fedora Docs - our site's [6] search visibility is about that of an equatorial noontime shadow. If you're explicitly looking for it, you'll get results from there; if not, you'll find someone that tells you how to disable SELinux, set your vhost directory to 0777, or even obtain proprietary software from questionable sources. Yyeachk.

With some luck, my postings will give visibility to others' sites, that have quality solutions following solid best practices.

[1] A python static site generator: http://getnikola.com/
[2] The translation platform used by Fedora, Fedora Docs: https://www.transifex.com
[3] A simple plain text markup specification: http://docutils.sourceforge.net/docs/user/rst/quickref.html
[4] My provider of choice just happens to be operated by a friend from Fedora: http://prgmr.com/xen/
[5] A site aggregating blogs from the Fedora community: http://planet.fedoraproject.org/
[6] Very comprehensive guides for Fedora: https://docs.fedoraproject.org

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