Published December 9th, 2019

On minimal-effort websites

Hosting your own website avoids many of the problems of using a platform like Tumblr, Medium or Wordpress. There are no ads, no bloated pages taking forever to load, no tracking, and no arbitrary restrictions. (Plus, then you can edit it with emacs, instead of an online editor thing).

However, it’s a real effort. I’ve attempted to make this site in the simplest way possible, with the least time required for a simple site that meets the standards I care about:

  1. Easy to update and change
  2. Fast loading
  3. Easy to host
  4. Looks (pretty) good

Step 1: Copy someone else

I could have used a static site generator like Pelican or Hugo, which meet all my criteria, but require me to actually learn how they work and build my own site from scratch.

This website is based off that of KISS Linux, by Dylan Araps. I don’t actually use KISS, but Dylan posted a great blog post to the Linux subreddit about how he designed this site to not require any external JavaScript libraries, and make minimal HTTP requests. (I don’t care quite so much about the tiny size, etc, but the lack of dependencies and neat structure really appeals).

The setup KISS developed uses a simple shell script and pandoc to insert simple Markdown posts into an HTML template and produce a site structure. Then, just changing the template and adding my own content content generates the site you’re viewing right now.

Step 2: There is no Step 2

You can clone the KISS website from their Github account, and make your own modifications. (Obviously the make shell script is only going to work on Linux-y OSs). Then you can throw the generated .www folder structure on any web host. I like DigitalOcean, because they’re cheap and have good documentation on how to do nearly everything.

This is one of the things that’s great about free software licensing – the ability to edit and redistribute work that’s in the public domain.

Big thanks to Dylan for his great work!