New Blog Rising

Almost 5 years ago (really?) I moved my site from the old “planet postgresql” blog hosting service over to my own server, pointing to my own domain. This server was hosted in OmniTI’s Ashburn data center, and it’s been a good home, but we are in the final stages of a data center evacuation project, which all of our sites, and our clients sites, are moving to either our new Ashburn facility, or our Chicago data center.

My old blog ran on an elderly version of S9Y, a PHP based blogging engine that also supported PostgreSQL. Like all new things, I liked it when I started with it, and even now I’d recommend it to folks looking for a blogging system, but rather than trying to port or upgrade the old system, I thought I would take this as an opportunity to try something new. The code I am most likely to touch these days is probably either PHP or node.js, with perl the outside third, so I figured I would look for something else. I did want to limit myself to a pre-built blog engine; while I think running software in different languages is valueable, I know I don’t have time to commit to maintaining my own system from scratch. You’d think that a blog wouldn’t be that complicated, but it’s harder than you’d think. Anyway, I originally was hoping to find something in Go, but blog options were lacking, and as I understand it, Go support on Illumos is still lacking, so I decided to look elsewhere. In the end, I ended up settling on Octopress/Jekyll. I have to admit, I was a bit resistent to go this route, because it almost seems cliche, but I figured that between the ruby and static page generation, it would be different enough to be interesting.

Some of the guys at OmniTI are doing a bunch of hacking on chef, but I can’t say that I’ve done any real ruby hacking in probably seven years. Still, Octopress is suppose to make everything easy, right?

Well, to be frank, I found the state of ruby’s development ecosystem to be a bit of a mess. I suppose that all the bits and pieces are meant to make things work better, but the need to juggle multiple ruby versions feels pretty painful. I’ll be honest, I tried to bypass it all by just using macports ruby, but it wasn’t up-to-date enoughr. Even when I started looking at the various Ruby environment managers, the version differences coupled with compiler issues on OSX made me question the whole thing, but eventually I ended up going with rbenv, and also making use of rbenv-gem-rehash to get everything to work correctly.

Once I was able to get a working ruby environment going, I proceeded to get a basic blog system up and going. That in and of itself required more wrangling than I expect, but I want to save that for another post, since this post is already getting long. The last thing I want to mention is that, although I originally had planned to move everything to one of our hosted OmniOS systems, in the end I decided to take a different route and host the system on Heroku. Once again, this was mainly in the spirit of learning something new. I know a bunch of the guys working on Heroku Postgres and I’ve always been interested in Heroku services in general, and this perticular site seemed simple enough that hosting it on one of their free hosts seemed pretty doable. I do miss not having tools like mod_rewrite or ATS to handle any black magic I might need, but for now things are running ok.