How I set up this site with GitHub Pages and CloudFlare

Posted on Thu 09 July 2015 in Side Activities


In a previous post, I described why I moved from Wordpress to Pelican for my blog. This one goes a step further and describes how I eliminated the need for the dedicated server I'd been utilizing as a part of Team Vipers. By eliminating that server, I reduced my costs to zero but kept control over the DNS of my domain (thanks to CloudFlare) and had an easier method of updating the site using GitHub Pages.

GitHub Pages Setup

To utilize GitHub Pages, I needed to create a new repository that followed the format This repository would house the content that is this site. I also set up a second repository which contains the source for the blog. This repository includes the templates, plugins and markdown version of the pages. The first repository was set up as submodule.

git submodule add output

I ignored the output directory in .gitignore on the source repository. Finally, I had to adjust slightly to


Without this, I was constantly destroying the output repository and had to reinitialize it. This prevents that from occuring.

Now, a new post consists of writing up the Markdown page, generating the page with the command below (or the batch script) and then committing and pushing the changes to the submodule to GitHub.

# Generates HTML files without debugging information
pelican content --output output --settings

The new content is available immediately.

Custom Domain

You may notice that the URL for this site isn't, but instead To accomplish this, I added a directory to the content named extra. In this directory is a single file named CNAME (no extension). In the file is my domain name.

Next, I had to modify to add the extra/CNAME to the static path and then on generation move the CNAME file from this subdirectory to the root. I could have put it in the root of content by default, but Pelican provides a way to do this and it keeps content clean. One very important note, the EXTRA_PATH_METADATA is operating system sensitive. Since I am generating the content on a Windows machine, I had to use a backslash instead of the forward slash the documentation shows. I found this after posing a question on Stack Overflow on why it wasn't working as the documentation suggested.

The two important fields to add or edit are:

STATIC_PATHS = ['images', 'extra/CNAME']
EXTRA_PATH_METADATA = {'extra\CNAME': {'path': 'CNAME'},}

Cloudflare Setup

The final thing I needed in order to get rid of my server was control over DNS. I could revert back to GoDaddy, but after a little research found that CloudFlare's additional CDN and security was a "good thing" (because, you know, I'm such a highly traffic'd blog these days). Step one was signing up to CloudFlare. This was a 3-5 minute thing.

Once signed up and signed in, I went to set up DNS. This was as simple as adding my domain name and waiting for CloudFlare to import my existing DNS records. With this, I kept by Google Apps email intact (which is what I was most concerned with). Next, I went and removed the A records. I replaced these with CNAME records pointing to my GitHub Pages URL. I also added a www CNAME pointing to the same location. Since I have Pelican configured to strip it with the setting below, it doesn't matter other than people expect to enter www dot domain dot com in their URL bar.


Last, I had to point by name servers to CloudFlare instead of my dedicated server. They provide a list of registrars to choose from. Select your registrar and follow the instructions. My biggest issue here was remembering my GoDaddy password. After I made it into my account, the steps to change name servers were very simple. Once those are saved, you wait for the changes to propagate and enjoy your new GitHub Pages / CloudFlare web page for free.

- is a father, an engineer and a computer scientist. He is interested in online community building, tinkering with new code and building new applications. He writes about his experiences with each of these.