Francesco Di Lorenzo mentions Vercel in his “SaaS we happily pay for” post. Vercel? Right, ZEIT’s new name. This made me reflect on my own blogging stack, a remarkably uncool one it turns out.
This is by no means the “only” or “right” way to publish your writings, it’s what works for me. Start writing, and if you are a little technically inclined, make sure to own your data. Syndicate, don’t write, on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, or Medium.
No fancy auto-scaling-deploy JAMstack here, a simple static website with Jekyll. Rough ideas, written in plain HTML, go in the ‘_drafts’ folder. Why no Markdown you ask? Websites are published in HTML, not Markdown, and my blog posts are simple text documents. A few <p> and <a> tags are all that’s required. As a bonus I can easily add more complex markup. Once happy with the result the idea moves from the ‘_drafts’ to the ‘_posts’ folder and changes are pushed to GitHub (not really needed but serves as an extra backup). A Raketask builds the static version and rsync’s it to the server.
The server? A good ol’ VPS. No serverless, no Docker, no AWS. A netcup VPS running Ubuntu 20.04 with Apache and Let’s Encrypt for the TLS certificate. I SSH in every so often for the occasional apt get upgrade and reinstall the OS when a new Ubuntu LTS comes out.
I first rented a VPS at OVH, Digital Ocean next, and now netcup. Digital Ocean’s dashboard and support are top-notch but they don’t seem to be pushing for green energy datacenters. Netcup on the other hand is running on 100% renewable energy and supporting a European business is the cherry on the cake.
Managing a VPS for several years taught me a thing or two about Linux, networking, and web servers in general, useful skills for a web developer. The same server also doubled as a Card- and CalDAV, email, Mastodon, and database server over the years.
It’s more expensive than free but less expensive than being the product.
|€14.52 per year
|free, comes with the domain name
|€2.26 per month
|€3.47 per month
Not too shabby.
There you have it. It requires more maintenance than any of the fancy JAMstack solutions, but no more than 10 minutes per month or so and I don’t have to worry about vendor lock-in (there are tons of VPS providers), fully open source stack, extra flexibility (can host what I like), and I learned some new skills in the process.
Boring, sure, but it served me well for over 10 years.