Setting up a Ghost Blog on Linode

6 min read
Setting up a Ghost Blog on Linode
Photo by Clark Tibbs / Unsplash

This document provides a comprehensive guide for setting up a Ghost blog on a Linode Nanode 1 GB instance. Ghost is a powerful, open-source blogging platform known for its modern design and robust features. Linode, a popular cloud hosting provider, offers an ideal environment for hosting a Ghost blog.

The goal of this project is to create a fully functional Ghost blog hosted on a Linode server, complete with domain configuration and SSL security. This setup will provide you with a professional-grade blogging platform that you have full control over.

Initial Setup

Linode Specifications

For this project, we'll be using a Linode Nanode 1 GB instance. This entry-level plan provides sufficient resources for running a Ghost blog with moderate traffic. Here are the specifications of the Nanode 1 GB instance:

  • 1 CPU core
  • 25 GB SSD storage
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 1 TB transfer
  • 40 Gbps Network In / 1 Gbps Network Out
  • Region: Chicago, IL (you can choose a different region based on your target audience)

This configuration offers a good balance of performance and cost-effectiveness for a personal or small business blog.

Preparation

Before we begin the installation of Ghost, we need to perform some initial configuration on our Linode instance. This includes updating the system, installing necessary packages, and setting up a new user for improved security.

Initial Configuration

  1. Log in to your Linode server via SSH:

    ssh root@your_server_ip
    

    Replace your_server_ip with the actual IP address of your Linode instance.

  2. Create a new user:

    adduser <user>
    

    Replace <user> with your desired username. Follow the prompts to set a password and provide optional user information.

  3. Grant the new user administrative privileges:

    usermod -aG sudo <user>
    
  4. Switch to the new user:

    su - <user>
    
  5. Update the package lists:

    sudo apt-get update
    
  6. Upgrade installed packages:

    sudo apt-get upgrade
    

    This step ensures that your system is up-to-date with the latest security patches and software versions.

By completing these preparation steps, you've created a more secure environment for your Ghost blog installation. The new user account with sudo privileges allows you to perform administrative tasks without constantly logging in as the root user, which is a best practice for system security.

Installation Process

The installation of Ghost on your Linode server involves several steps, including setting up the server, installing necessary software, and finally installing Ghost itself. We'll be following official guides from both Linode and Ghost to ensure a smooth setup process.

Using Ghost Installation Guide for Linode

Ghost provides a comprehensive installation guide specifically for Linode users. This guide covers all necessary steps and ensures compatibility with Linode's infrastructure. Before proceeding, ensure that you meet the following prerequisites:

  • A configured and secured Linode server (which we've set up in the previous section)
  • A server with at least 1GB memory (our Nanode 1 GB instance meets this requirement)
  • Ubuntu 22.04 LTS as the server image

Setup the Server

While we've already performed some initial setup, it's crucial to fully configure and secure your Linode server. Follow these official Linode guides for a comprehensive setup:

  1. "Getting Started with Linode" guide: This guide provides detailed instructions on initial server setup, including creating your Linode, deploying an image, and connecting to your server.

  2. "How to Secure Your Server" guide: This guide covers essential security measures such as creating a limited user account, configuring SSH access, and setting up a firewall.

Install Ghost on Ubuntu

Now that your server is set up and secured, we can proceed with the Ghost installation. We'll be following the official Ghost installation guide for Ubuntu. This process includes installing necessary software and using the Ghost-CLI tool for a streamlined setup.

  1. Install NGINX:

    sudo apt install nginx
    sudo systemctl start nginx
    
  2. Install MySQL:

    sudo apt install mysql-server
    sudo mysql_secure_installation
    

    Follow the prompts to secure your MySQL installation.

  3. Install Node.js:

    curl -sL https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_16.x | sudo -E bash -
    sudo apt install -y nodejs
    
  4. Install Ghost-CLI:

    sudo npm install -g ghost-cli
    
  5. Prepare the Ghost installation directory:

    sudo mkdir -p /var/www/ghost
    sudo chown <user>:<user> /var/www/ghost
    sudo chmod 775 /var/www/ghost
    

    Replace <user> with the username you created earlier.

  6. Navigate to the Ghost directory and start the installation:

    cd /var/www/ghost
    ghost install
    

    The Ghost installer will guide you through the rest of the process, including setting up your blog URL, database configuration, and initial admin account.

Note that the Ghost installer includes an Nginx proxy manager to handle URL security and SSL setup, which we'll configure in the next section.

Domain and SSL Configuration

Proper domain setup and SSL configuration are crucial for the security and professionalism of your Ghost blog. In this section, we'll cover how to manage your domain through Cloudflare and set up SSL using Let's Encrypt.

Domain Setup

  1. Manage your domain through Cloudflare:

    • Log in to your Cloudflare account and select your domain.
    • Navigate to the DNS settings.
  2. Set up a DNS A-Record:

    • Create a new A-Record pointing to your Linode server's IP address.
    • For example:
      • Type: A
      • Name: @ (or your subdomain)
      • Content: Your Linode server's IP address
      • TTL: Auto

SSL and URL Security

The Ghost installer includes an Nginx proxy manager that simplifies the process of setting up SSL. During the Ghost installation, you'll be prompted to set up SSL using Let's Encrypt.

  1. Ensure your domain is correctly pointing to your server's IP address before proceeding with SSL setup.

  2. During the Ghost installation process, you'll be asked if you want to set up SSL. Choose 'Yes' and follow the prompts.

  3. The installer will use Let's Encrypt to obtain and configure an SSL certificate for your domain.

If you need to set up or renew SSL manually after installation, you can use the following command:

sudo ghost setup ssl

This command will guide you through the process of obtaining and installing an SSL certificate for your Ghost blog.

Troubleshooting and Tips

While setting up a Ghost blog on Linode is generally straightforward, you may encounter some challenges along the way. This section provides solutions to common issues and offers tips for a smooth installation and maintenance process.

Common Issues and Solutions

  1. Installation Fails Due to Insufficient Memory

    • Symptom: The Ghost installation process crashes or fails to complete.
    • Solution: Ensure your Linode instance has at least 1GB of RAM. If you're using a smaller instance, consider upgrading or setting up a swap file.
  2. Unable to Access Ghost Admin Panel

    • Symptom: You can't access the Ghost admin panel after installation.
    • Solution:
      • Verify that Ghost is running: ghost status
      • Check Nginx configuration: sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/ghost_yourdomain.com.conf
      • Restart Ghost and Nginx: ghost restart and sudo systemctl restart nginx
  3. SSL Certificate Issues

    • Symptom: SSL certificate fails to renew or HTTPS is not working.
    • Solution:
      • Manually renew the certificate: sudo ghost setup ssl
      • Check Nginx SSL configuration
      • Ensure your domain is correctly pointing to your server's IP
  4. Database Connection Errors

    • Symptom: Ghost fails to start due to database connection issues.
    • Solution:
      • Verify MySQL is running: sudo systemctl status mysql
      • Check database credentials in Ghost config: sudo nano /var/www/ghost/config.production.json

Maintenance Tips

  1. Regular Updates

    • Keep your system updated: sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade
    • Update Ghost regularly: ghost update
  2. Backup Your Blog

    • Regularly backup your Ghost content and database
    • Consider using Linode's backup service for full server backups
  3. Monitor Performance

    • Use Linode's built-in monitoring tools to keep an eye on server resource usage
    • Consider using additional monitoring tools like New Relic or Munin for more detailed insights
  4. Security Best Practices

    • Keep all software up to date
    • Use strong passwords and consider implementing two-factor authentication
    • Regularly review your server's security settings and firewall rules

Conclusion

Setting up a Ghost blog on Linode provides you with a powerful, flexible, and cost-effective blogging platform. By following this guide and utilizing the resources provided by both Linode and Ghost, you've created a professional-grade blog that you have full control over.

Key benefits of this setup include:

  1. Performance: Linode's SSD-based infrastructure ensures fast loading times for your blog.
  2. Scalability: As your blog grows, you can easily upgrade your Linode instance to accommodate increased traffic.
  3. Customization: With full access to your server, you can customize every aspect of your Ghost installation.
  4. Security: By following best practices and keeping your system updated, you maintain a secure environment for your blog.

Remember to regularly update both your server and Ghost installation to ensure you have the latest features and security patches. Engage with the Ghost and Linode communities for ongoing support and to stay informed about new developments.

Your Ghost blog on Linode is now ready to serve as a powerful platform for sharing your content with the world. Happy blogging!