Using Jekyll with GitHub Pages Or: How I Built This Blog

Updated 08/06/2013 to reflect changes in Jekyll 1.0.0

tldr: This site was built using Jekyll. Fork/Clone it on GitHub.

I'd been looking to ditch WordPress as the back-end for this site for a while. It seemed overkill and I'm no longer interested in hosting comments - who wants to moderate (and host) spam anyway? Switching to Jekyll offered the chance to learn and hack something new over the holiday period. As an added extra, it meant I could host the site on GitHub Pages and it would be automatically updated when I pushed my commits.

BTW, if you really need to ask me something, just email.

What is Jekyll?

Jekyll is a static site generator similar to Middleman (Ruby) or Hyde (Python). It was created by GitHub founder Tom Preston-Werner and is now maintained & enhanced by many of its users.

Building It

First things first, I installed the Jekyll RubyGem. I also grabbed the rdiscount gem so I could use the RDiscount flavour of Markdown.

$ gem install jekyll
$ gem install rdiscount

FWIW, if you're intending to use Textile you'll need the RedCloth gem installed: gem install RedCloth

Next up I cloned Tom's site as a starting point and ripped out his posts. I swapped out the markup and styling for my own. I changed some references to to, removed the .git folder & initialized it, then started the server.

$ git clone git://
$ cd
$ rm -rf .git
$ git init
$ jekyll serve

Visited http://localhost:4000 in my browser and there it was was. In ~10 minutes I had the bare bones of a new site.

For syntax highlighting Jekyll supports Pygments and you'll need to install the Pygments Python library. I've got the awesome Pip package manager installed that means getting Pygments is a 2 second job.

$ pip install pygments

The built in style classes are decent enough but I really like the Tomorrow colour themes. A Google for "tomorrow theme pygments" didn't yield anything useful so I decided to hack together my own style classes. I've created a repository on GitHub containing the resulting Python code.

And that was pretty much the build done.

Import Old Posts

Jekyll has some handy migration tools that meant that I could swiftly import my old posts from WordPress.

The command goes something like this:

$ ruby -rubygems -e 'require "jekyll/migrators/wordpress"; Jekyll::WordPress.process("database", "user", "password")'

I ditched a few posts that were now redundant and cleaned up the markdown of the ones I'd decided to keep.


I created a new GitHub repos using the username/ naming scheme, committed & pushed my files and then within 10 minutes the site was running at On subsequent pushes the site is updated immediately.

I added a CNAME file to the repository root that means I can use a custom URL - awesome! GitHub handles the hosting, I get to use my own domain.

Moz Morris

Moz Morris

Freelance Web Developer