Weekend Project: Self-hosted blog & Docker in a Raspberry Pi

I received a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B last Christmas, but I did not know what to do with. Or at least not yet. The problem has little to do with the Pi and more of the fact that most of the projects that I do can easily be solved with an Arduino.

When I stumbled upon these series of posts by the Docker Captain Alex Ellis, I figured out that this is a perfect opportunity to learn a tool I have always wanted to use. I know virtual machines well, but I had a hard time understanding how to make Docker fit into my workflow. The idea of containers that I cannot simply SSH into (I now know that you can exec bash to peek inside them, but that's not the point), just seemed absurd when I was first trying to use it. To be honest it felt too complex and cumbersome that I just dismissed it as something that was not worth it. Well, it turned out that I did not understand the philosophy behind it. I would like to talk about it and discuss images and containers in depth, but I decided that it will be better to have a dedicated post for that. After getting my hands dirty with Docker last weekend, I can say that I have attained a working proficiency with it and I can comfortably use it for my projects from here on.

After three days, I finally got it to work. The blog that you are reading right now is hosted on a Raspberry Pi with Docker Engine installed. I have two Docker containers running: the Ghost blog and the NGINX server that handles the caching. It took me a lot of trial and errors before I finally got it to work; I do not have any prior knowledge of NGINX when I embarked on this weekend project. The Pi's limited hardware made building images painstakingly slow. Building SQLite3 from source for the ARM architecture was excruciating.

I will be sharing my Dockerfiles and some configuration below. I won't go into more detail right now, but I am hoping that I will have the time to do so in my next post. Some of these are directly forked/copied from Alex's GitHub repositories; I could have pulled the images from Docker Hub or cloned the Dockerfiles but I decided to train my muscle memory by typing the Dockerfiles manually. I still have a lot to learn about NGINX and Docker in particular, but I consider this blog as a milestone.

Ghost Dockerfile

FROM alexellis2/node4.x-arm:latest

USER root  
WORKDIR /var/www/  
RUN mkdir -p ghost  
RUN apt-get update && \  
    apt-get -qy install wget unzip && \
    wget https://github.com/TryGhost/Ghost/releases/download/0.11.4/Ghost-0.11.4.zip && \
    unzip Ghost-*.zip -d ghost && \
    apt-get -y remove wget unzip && \
    rm -rf /var/lib/apt/lists/*

RUN useradd ghost -m -G www-data -s /bin/bash  
RUN chown ghost:www-data .  
RUN chown ghost:www-data ghost  
RUN chown ghost:www-data -R ghost/*  
RUN npm install -g pm2

USER ghost  
WORKDIR /var/www/ghost  
RUN /bin/bash -c "time (npm install sqlite3)"  
RUN npm install

EXPOSE 2368  
EXPOSE 2369  
RUN ls && pwd

ENV NODE_ENV production

RUN sed -e s/127.0.0.1/0.0.0.0/g ./config.example.js > ./config.js  
CMD ["pm2", "start", "index.js", "--name", "blog", "--no-daemon"]  

Blog Dockerfile

FROM johncrisostomo/ghost-on-docker-arm:0.11.4

ADD Vapor /var/www/ghost/content/themes/Vapor

RUN sed -i s/my-ghost-blog.com/blog.johncrisostomo.com/g config.js  

NGINX Dockerfile

FROM resin/rpi-raspbian:latest

RUN apt-get update && apt-get install -qy nginx

WORKDIR /etc/nginx/

RUN rm /var/www/html/index.nginx-debian.html && \  
    rm sites-available/default && \
    rm sites-enabled/default && \
    rm nginx.conf

COPY nginx.conf /etc/nginx/

COPY johncrisostomo.com.conf conf.d/

EXPOSE 80

CMD ["nginx", "-g", "daemon off;"]  

johncrisostomo.com.conf

server {  
  listen 80;
  server_name blog.johncrisostomo.com;
  access_log /var/log/nginx/blog.access.log;
  error_log /var/log/nginx/blog.error.log;

  location / {
    proxy_cache              blog_cache;
    add_header X-Proxy-Cache $upstream_cache_status;
    proxy_ignore_headers     Cache-Control;
    proxy_cache_valid any    10m;
    proxy_cache_use_stale    error timeout http_500 http_502 http_503 http_504;

    proxy_set_header  X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
    proxy_set_header  Host      $http_host;
    proxy_pass        http://blog:2368;
  }
}

docker-compose.yml

version: "2.0"  
services:  
  nginx:
    ports:
      - "80:80"
    build: "./nginx/"
    restart: always

  blog:
    ports:
      - "2368:2368"
    build: "./blog.johncrisostomo.com/"
    volumes:
      - ghost_apps:/var/www/ghost/content/apps
      - ghost_data:/var/www/ghost/content/data
      - ghost_images:/var/www/ghost/content/images
      - ghost_themes:/var/www/ghost/content/themes
    restart: always

volumes:  
   ghost_apps:
      driver: local
   ghost_data:
      driver: local
   ghost_images:
      driver: local
   ghost_themes:
      driver: local

I have written several follow up posts about this project. Feel free to check them out as most of them are troubleshooting issues and optimizations that are built on top of this project.

Author

John Crisostomo

Software Engineer, currently interested in React, React Native and GraphQL