This is a series of posts inspired by my own reaction to a tweet about not blogging. In this post I’ll migrate my blog to Hugo, which is something I’ve been wanting to try for a while.

Step One; Install Hugo

brew install hugo
hugo version

Okay, easy peasey.

Step Two; Migrate!

There are a few tools to migrate, but there’s a built-in CLI that looks super easy:

Import your site from other web site generators like Jekyll.

Import requires a subcommand, e.g. hugo import jekyll jekyll_root_path target_path

Looks easy, but when I run the command nothing appears to happen. I run in a bunch of times, adding the --debug flag, which appears to do nothgin also. Then I notice there’s a public directory, but it’s empty. I try a few other flags but nothing seems to do anything else. Maybe I’m doing it on the wrong directory.

I install the site, hugo new site. Then I run the import command with the --force flag. This works! Note to self: PR to the Hugo repo to update their documentation: “import from another site to an installed site.

Check out the site locally

I start with the hugo server command. The site is served, but it’s just a blank page. I install a theme used in the example, but the instructions tell me I need to install it as a git-submodule, this is getting, uh, interesting.

I install the theme as a sub-module and run the hugo server command. Again, white screen. So far I’ve been trying to run this blog “blind.” I.e. I haven’t opened it in a text editor. It might be time.

I add the theme = "annake" line to the config.toml file, but this throws an error. (Computers are cursed, run to the woods where you belong.)

I mess around with the toml file, which results in an error I can’t seem to get out of.

 error calling markdownify: unable to cast maps.Params{"email":"", "name":"Ben", "uri":""} of type maps.Params to string

When I remove the theme line, the error goes away, when I add it, the server command fails. Googling errors while installing a theme is not where I wanted this blog to go, but maybe it’s exactly what I should have expected.

I took a longer look at the migrated site, and that seems to be the problem. The import imported what looks like a bunch of examples posts from content/post/vendor/bundle/ruby/2.6.0/gems/jekyll-feed-0.10.0/spec/fixtures. It put these in with my real posts. I guess by enabling the theme, the server went in and tried to actually build the posts.

Removing that directory of posts, adding the theme back to the config file, the server starts, runs, and serves. Phew.

# Theming

I don’t want a redesign, but I also don’t want to spend too much time on these. I’ll probably keep the current site. Re-thememing, or migrating my current theme to a new platform is certainly within the scope of this blog, but I also know I have limited patience and time, so for the moment, I’ll skip that and instead work on the next step.

# Building and serving the site

First step is to create a new repository. I’m sticking with github because it’s what I know. In the process I remember all the images are statically stored in git… not great. That’ll have to be something I fix before doing this again. However, onward!

I haven’t tried github actions yet, and the Hugo site offers a simple looking set up, so copy-paste away.

My end goal was to host this as a subdomain to my current site, and add a robots.txt to hide the redundant site. But I’m not sure it’s worth the effort, so, github pages here we go.

It dies on the Build step : Error building site: TOCSS: failed to transform "ananke/css/main.css" something, something, SCSS. Ugh, I hate Sass. This looks like a problem with the version of go included in the build container. So, do I figure out how to write a minimal theme, or fix the build container.

Using a new container seems like the easier, but now I’m running into the limits of github pages. After trying to tag the build with a hugo-specific container I get a Waiting for a self-hosted runner to pickup this job... error. I guess what this means is I can’t run any container on github actions, but only the ubuntu image.

So without getting deep into github, I’m trying this shortcut. On the line where the build happens, I’m installing the hugo dependency. sudo apt-get install hugo-extended && hugo --minify. Evidentally I need hugo-extended which has sass. That’s not a thing in the repository, which means I have to install it as a tar ball. This is exactly the kind of mind-numbing bullshit in CI, especially since I’ll have to make changes to the CI file, push it up, wait for the run, try again, etc.

Now I’m noodling around trying to patch together a minimum bare-bones theme. This is starting to remind me of theme shopping on WordPress, not a memory I relish. This process is going from bad to worst.

Final steps

I pulled down a different theme, K.I.S.S.. This built fine. Then I flaied around trying to understand what the magic Deploy job I’d added to the github actions did. After sorting that out I had the site running, winner!

Once I did all that, I then re-imported this blog so that I’d get the latest content (the words I’m writing now), and pushed the site back up.


Like most things in software develoment, it mostly sucked. Certainly Hugo is a tool made for developers, and I can’t imagine a non-dev trying to set this thing up. The inevitable complications with a host, even one as easy as github pages added a layer of difficulty. This first test, Jeykll to Hugo is probably the easiest, both tools are static site generators that use the same markup for content.

On the bright side, Hugo is as fast as advertised. My ~37 blog posts are not the best test case, but it was certainly fast. I could see myself fully migrating the site if I could be arsed, but I probably can’t. From a user perspective there’s little that Hugo offers that Jekyll doesn’t have. (Next time I struggle with gem update, I may sing a different tune.)


After pushing this post to the Jekyll site I’m sitting waiting for the thing to build. And like, a while. It might actually be worth the time to migrate for real. Also, I have updates to my gems or bundles or whatever, and I can’t figure out how to update them, which seems to happen everytimes I touch this site. After installing yet another ruby shim, I’m on my way to publishing this post, and I’m thinking maybe Hugo is looking good after all.