Jekyll works just fine on my laptop. If I continue hosting this site on my own web host, I don’t have to restrict my Jekyll configuration to what GitHub gives me – that opens up the full range of available plugins. It also means that I can drag over some content from other places on the server, if I want to. Like my resume? Yeah, that.

uploading with rsync

So, what does it take to deploy from my laptop? Not much: two lines in my Makefile.

upload: build
	rsync -a _site

Well, I ought to add the build recipe, too, but that’s been in there for a while.

	JEKYLL_ENV=production $(JEKYLL) build
	if [ ! -d _site/.well-known ] && [ -d .well-known ]; then \
		cp -r .well-known _site;			  \

This is doing two things. First, it builds the site with the JEKYLL_ENV environment set to “production”, which changes a few things in the page heads. It also makes sure that the .well-known directory is still there, and copies it from the current directory if it isn’t. It’s used for renewing the site’s Let’s Encrypt certificate, so we really want to make sure it’s there.

Anyway, now I can say make upload at the command line and the site will get rebuilt and uploaded.

There’s another way: do it with git.

uploading with git

Git is actually a very efficient way of transferring files. You can even use it for file-sharing: SparkleShare uses it to make what amounts to a private Dropbox clone. It’s also the only way I know of to get build products onto GitHub. So let’s do that.

First, we need a branch. We’ll call it “prod”, build the site again, and this time add Jekyll’s build destination to it.

git checkout -b prod
make build
git add -f _site
git commit -m "start of prod branch"
git push origin prod

We need to use add -f because the _site directory is in the master branch’s .gitignore file; we only have to do that the first time.

Now I can ssh to my web host and set up the website’s working tree there:

cd vv/web/
git fetch origin prod
git checkout prod

From there on it’s pretty simple, because the branch structure is already set up. All I have to do is git push on the laptop, and git pull on the host.

git checkout prod
git merge -s recursive -X theirs master
make build
git commit -a -m "prod build `date`"
git push
ssh git -C vv/web/ pull
git checkout master

I probably won’t need the -s recursive -X theirs options the next time I merge. They were needed this time because I forgot to go back to the master branch before I made changes. Oops! (What those options do is avoid conflicts by simply dropping any local changes. I can get away with it because the prod branch is supposed to be only for builds.)

The ssh command is only needed until I install a suitable hook on the server. You’ll note the -C option, which changes to the given directory before running the subcommand. You’ll also notice that you can run a command with ssh – you don’t have to log in and do things by hand.

The one problem with this scheme is that it leaves your history looking rather messy, but the master branch still stays clean, and the merges give you a good record of which changes go with which build.

You might think that you could make things simpler by rebasing the prod branch rather than merging into it. You’d be wrong. I tried that, just once, and it made things even more of a mess, requiring a push -f to get the code onto the server, and a hard reset instead of a pull to update the prod branch on the server. No thanks. See the section “RECOVERING FROM UPSTREAM REBASE” in the man page for git-rebase.