Here we go with a new blog to record and share detailed technical information about the stuff I do, both professionally and voluntarily.

But first I’m going to describe what was needed to create this blog. It’s built with Jekyll, and it’s hosted on

Setting up Jekyll on Slackware

I started by following the quick start guide at, which asks us to clone into a Gitlab hosted repo and do some setup. This is all quite straightforward.

After that, you can clone the Gitlab repo to your local desktop box. To test and preview the site locally, a local installation of Jekyll is required. But I wanted to have proper Slackware packages, instead of an uncontrolled and unmaintainable mess with gem and bundler. Jekyll and its dependencies are not available at, but you can create Slackware packages automatically from ruby gems with gem2tgz by cycojesus on Github. It finds gem dependencies automatically, and creates a Slackware package for each gem.

gem2tgz is available from, but it’s quite old, and I found that a number of fixups were needed. You can get a copy from my forked repo at Github: When I’m confident that it works nicely, I’ll send cycojesus a pull request :)

Having fixed up gem2tgz, it’s as simple as running

gem2tgz jekyll

and installing the ten packages it creates.

Gitlab Pages with a letsencrypt certificate and a custom domain

You’ve got a lot more hard work to do if you want to use a custom domain and TLS with a certificate from letsencrypt. There’s a tutorial, “Securing your GitLab Pages with TLS and Let’s Encrypt”, but you need to be aware of the following problems:

  • On Slackware, don’t clone the letsencrypt repo — you should install the letsencrypt SlackBuild
  • On Slackware, don’t use letsencrypt-auto (you will get the message “Sorry, I don’t know how to bootstrap Certbot on your operating system”) — you should use this command:
    certbot certonly -a manual -d
  • Don’t use the name ‘lets-encrypt-setup.html’ for your custom static page containing the letsencrypt challenge token, and don’t include ‘.html’ in the permalink name — you should do what it says in this comment
  • You may need to convert the private key before uploading it — see this issue
  • Certificate and key uploads, including renewal, must be done manually (by deleting and recreating the custom domain) because there is no Gitlab ui or api for changing the certificate and key in an existing domain

Random customisations

Then you can customise the template and start blogging. For example, it’s a bit odd that the Gitlab Jekyll template footer includes an icon for linking to your Github username, but no Gitlab svg icon. So I made one from the official svg logo, using inkscape. You can grab the svg file here: icon-gitlab.svg

Disqus comments with Jekyll

Finally, I’ve added Disqus comments. The official Disqus configuration for Jekyll works, but I made the following improvements:


  • Set ‘comments’ variable off by default
  • Set ‘disqus_shortname’ variable


  • Additional include file for Disqus javascript
  • Use ‘site.url’, ‘site.baseurl’, ‘page.url’ and ‘site.disqus_shortname’ variables in the Disqus javascript
  • Wrap the Disqus javascript in a Jekyll footer