Looking to set up a blog with Ghost? While it still has a few rough edges and missing features at the time of this writing, as it’s essentially in beta at this point (hence the “0.3” versioning), it definitely shows promise as a blogging platform.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably aware that you can’t just FTP Ghost to a dinky shared host and expect it to run like your average PHP script. Ghost is a Node.js application, which works differently, and has yet to be adopted by services that generally cater to newbies. You’re going to need a VPS and command line access. I’m also going to assume a rudimentary knowledge of Linux commands. (You can pick up the basics pretty easily at linuxcommand.org if need be.)
This tutorial aims to walk you through the process of installing one ore more instances of Ghost behind the NGINX server. NGINX is a fast and lightweight web server that, when configured in this manner, acts as a proxy, forwarding requests to the correct Ghost blog.
I’m a big fan of DigitalOcean. I’ve been hosting my various web sites with them since this June, and their service has been of excellent quality. In addition to their rock-bottom price, their virtual machines have performed well and their staff has been competent and helpful. (You can find my review of DigitalOcean here.)
$5/month will get you a “Droplet” with 512MB of RAM, 20GB of storage on a solid state drive and plenty of data transfer. (It’s a soft cap with reasonable overages. You’re very, very unlikely to ever reach it, though. Unless you’re a popular podcaster or something, in which case you should be looking into a CDN…)
The figure that’s the most important is the RAM. Just like with the computer you’re using to read this, active applications reside in the system’s memory, and the amount they use varies depending on what the app is doing. Ghost, in my informal tests, doesn’t seem to be too memory-intense. So a 512MB Droplet could probably host a few Ghost blogs at once, depending on their popularity and how the system is configured.
There are plenty of options for a VPS, though. If you’re not too keen on DigitalOcean, Linode, Rackspace, Amazon EC2 and RamNode are popular. If you want to give DigitalOcean a try, you can sign up with the promo code DIVEIN5 to get a $5 credit. You can also pay by the hour if you just want to fire up a VM for a few hours to experiment before making a decision.
Once you’ve got your VPS, it’s time to start setting things up. For simplicity, I will assume you are running Ubuntu 12.04. You can follow along with any Linux distribution on any hosting provider, but some commands may be a little different.
First, if you haven’t already, use SSH to log in to your VM as
root, using the password your host gave you. Take this opportunity to change your password to something different, and reasonably strong, for security. Just run the
passwd command and follow the on-screen instructions.
Now let the system update its package index by running the following command:
While you’re at it, install the
unzip tool so you can unpack the Ghost archive later on.
apt-get install unzip