Antony Jepson
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29 Mar 2020

Looking forward to the next 10 years!
31 December 2019

Keywords: new year; 2020; new decade; self-host; apache; ansible

Note: Let’s Encrypt has a rather small rate limit that I transgessed when testing the deployment of my plkt.io w/ GatsbyJS container. This means I won’t be able to get a free HTTPS certificate from them until next week. So for the first week of the New Year, this blog will continue to be hosted on GitHub Pages. I’ll remove this note once the migration is complete!

Wow, what a year it has been. If you’re reading this, it means I’ve successfully completed my first New Year’s Resolution of hosting this website on my own web server. It is now live on a VPS at Hetzner complete with a HTTPS certificate signed by Let’s Encrypt. While this isn’t a huge achievement in itself, I’ve done much more than simply copy the static files to /var/www/html.

Short term plans

The journey to self-hosting this blog took longer than anticipated because I spent a lot of time creating a reproducible setup. This means I can recreate the plkt.io deployment on my local machine for testing with Vagrant and have that same configuration be pushed on “production” aka this web server.

To achieve this, I hand-crafted a series of incremental Dockerfiles that build the container serving this page. Starting from Debian, adding in Apache, and then configuring certbot and building the website from JS. I learned alot about setting up infrastructure via code and having single application containers work well. There’s still quite a bit left to do but for now I consider the first phase of my 2020 plan complete!

In Phase II, I’ll be moving from a simple docker run setup to something more glamorous /ahem/ I mean modern. While the site by itself is rather simple, I do plan to expose more services here, with the next in line being a self-hosted git repo at git.plkt.io. This page will serve as the authoritive git repo behind the site with a mirror of course available on GitHub. Kubernetes to replace my manual invocations (and incantations :)) will will be brought in incrementally and as needed over the course of a few months as I standardise how I roll out services on plkt.io. At the moment, I don’t plan to have multiple VMs running so will likely run each Kubernetes node using Linux containers (LXD).

Longer term plans

In Phase III, running concurrently with Phase II, I’ll be migrating from this static website built with GatsbyJS to one served with WordPress. While some might think this an irrational move, I have a lot of trust in WordPress and believe it’s the less maintenance heavy option. I’ll be migrating the entirety of my blog posts over and likely be breaking some URLs in the process. While it is considered faux paus to break links, I consider it a necessary evil as I ship this blog upon a platform that I’m sure will be for the next ten years.

If you did bookmark a page and it no longer works, try the search functionality on Google here or via WordPress if this site has already been migrated.

Phase IV is where this site really starts to become notable and useful. I’ll be adding two major updates that add a bit of interactivity to the site.

First, I’ll be publishing a blog roll of my favourite blogs via an RSS feed and also putting the snippets live on my site. This doesn’t necessarily mean I approve of everything written, rather, I find it as a directory of like-minded thinkers so people browsing this site can continue to find good content.

Second, I’m going to spin up some data funnels where I can start recording events that happen and present them on the site. Examples include: (a) Git activity by people I follow; (b) self-signed tarballs of things that I’m using in production so people have multiple sources of trust for packages; (c) and perhaps even some stock market analysis and trends.

Overall, I think the additions will do well to improve the usefulness of my website as a hub reflecting what I’m working on and what I’m capable of. In addition, it’s one small step closer to making content discovery easier in lieu of search engine dominance and apathy. More to come in this space!

Phase V is still under wraps. As my knowledge around moving workloads to the cloud, containerising applications, and building infrastructure with code improves, I can envision myself start a cloud consulting business for my local region. Nothing finalised yet but something to shoot for in 2020.