KHOI | Blog

Setting up CI/CD for your blog

Sat, Nov 25, 2023 · 11 min read
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In this blog post, let’s learn how to set up a CI/CD workflow for your blog with CircleCI, GitHub, and a Linux Virtual Private Server (VPS) with NGINX installed.

Note that I’m using Eleventy as a static site generator for my blog.


  • A CircleCI account.
  • A GitHub account.
  • A Linux VPS from AWS / Azure / DigitalOcean / etc. (just make sure you have set up SSH and create a new sudo user for it).

Setup user for deployment

  1. SSH into your VPS (as a sudo user) and create a new user called circleci. Run:
sudo useradd -m -d /home/circleci -s /bin/bash circleci
  1. Setting up SSH for the new circleci user.
  • On your local machine, to generate an SSH key pair, run:
ssh-keygen -m PEM -t rsa -f ~/.ssh/circleci
  1. Copy & paste the content of the public key .pub and add it your VPS /home/circleci/.ssh/authorized_keys file.
sudo nano /home/circleci/.ssh/authorized_keys
  • If the directory /.ssh doesn’t exist, create it with:
sudo mkdir /home/circleci/.ssh

then create the authorized_keys file:

sudo touch /home/circleci/.ssh/authorized_keys
  • Give the circleci user its directory permissions so that it doesn’t run into permission issues during deployment.
sudo chown -R circleci:circleci /home/circleci
  • On your local machine, test the new circleci setup with:
ssh circleci@<your_server_ip> -i ~/.ssh/circleci

If it works, you are now logged in as circleci!

  1. Setup SSH connection with GitHub. This allows us to do git fetch, git pull, and cloning private repos.

Install Node

  1. SSH to your VPS with the user circleci as we’ve set up above.

  2. Install node (I find installing Node using the Node Version Manager to be more convenient).

  • Run node -v to make sure node is installed
  • Run npm -v to make sure npm is installed.
  1. Run npm i -g pnpm to install pnpm globally.
  • Run pnpm -v to make sure pnpm is installed.

Setup deployment environment

  1. Create a folder for our deployment, then move to that folder:
mkdir web && cd web
  1. Clone your blog from GitHub:
git clone <repo-url / ssh-string>

Eg: git clone [email protected]:KhoiUna/my-blog.git (I prefer using an SSH string since we’ve setup SSH connection with GitHub).

  • Note that in my GitHub repo, I’ve created a .circleci/ folder with a config.yml file.
# .circleci/config.yml
version: 2.1

# Define the jobs we want to run for this project
            - image: arvindr226/alpine-ssh
            - checkout
            - run: ssh -o StrictHostKeyChecking=no $USER@$IP "./"
            # I tell CircleCI to SSH to my VPS,
            # and run my `` script.

# Orchestrate our job run sequence
    version: 2
            - pull-and-build:
                              - main
  1. Create script: vi ~/ with this content:
# /home/circle/

# replace this with the path of your project on the VPS
cd ~/web/my-blog

# pull from the branch
git pull origin main

# followed by instructions specific to your project that you used to do manually
export PNPM_HOME="/home/circleci/.local/share/pnpm"

# Install dependencies
pnpm i

# Build my static blog.
# I'm using 11ty so the out dir will be `_site/`
pnpm build
  1. Login to your CircleCI account, create a new project and connect it to your blog repo.

  2. Go to your Project Settings, create 2 environment variables: USER=circleci and IP=<your_server_ip>.

  3. Under Additional SSH Keys, add your private key that you’ve created for circleci user.


  1. SSH into your server as a sudo user, not as user circleci.

  2. Make sure NGINX has been installed and is running:

  • To make sure NGINX has been installed:
nginx -v
  • To make sure NGINX is running:
sudo systemctl status nginx
  • If it says Active, proceed to the next step. If not, start NGINX with: sudo systemctl enable nginx && sudo systemctl start nginx
  1. Create our NGINX site config file at /etc/ngixn/sites-available/:
sudo vi /etc/nginx/sites-available/my-blog.conf

with this content:

# /etc/nginx/sites-available/my-blog.conf
server {
                listen 80;
                listen [::]:80;

                root /home/circleci/web/my-blog/_site;
                index index.html index.htm index.nginx-debian.html;

                error_page 404 = /404.html;

                location /404.html {

                location / {
                        try_files $uri $uri/ =404;
  1. Check our NGINX config file:
sudo nginx -t

If it says OK, proceed to the next step!

  1. Restart NGINX:
sudo systemctl restart nginx

Your blog is now live at!

A few notes

  • From now on, each time you git push successfully to the main branch, CircleCI will run the steps in our .circleci/config.yml file in our repo.
  • Make sure to not make user circleci a sudo user for security purposes.
  • Make sure to have export PATH in your script. This is important as CircleCI won’t have access to user circleci’s $PATH when SSH to our VPS (p/s: I spent hours fixing this bug).


How To Automate Deployment Using CircleCI and GitHub on Ubuntu 18.04 | DigitalOcean