Moving to Hugo

Bye bye paid web hosting + Drupal, hello GitLab + Hugo

3 minute read

Hugo SSG

Hugo SSG

The idea of ditching both my web hosting provider and Drupal has been at the back of my mind for a few months.

Bear with me. Since about 2011 I have been maintaining this website using the cheapest hosting tier my hosting offers – At least it was the cheapest at the time I got it. They call it The Essential and it costs over 300 bucks for 2 years. It is not a lot, but it is definitely too much for my purposes of hosting a small blog where I provide occasional updates on my projects, my portfolio and my CV.

Also, loading times are horribly long and the complexity of managing the Drupal installation (upgrades/updates) and also the database takes way too much of my time. Only the thought of updating to Drupal 8 sends shivers down my spine and ultimately got me searching for better options.

Static Site Generators

A while ago, while looking for alternatives, I stumbled upon the concept of Static Site Generator. It is basically a system that produces static html + css + js websites from some configuration and content files. The static websites are ready to be hosted in a web server. There are a ton of them! After tinkering around with Jekyll and some others, I chose Hugo. GitLab Pages supports it, so that whenever I commit changes to my website files GitLab triggers the site generation automatically. I can now update my website from a terminal by just git committing!

Turns out most of the features I had in my Drupal installation I can also have in Hugo:

  • Blog
  • Summaries
  • Categories
  • Tags
  • Static pages
  • Nice theming and templating support
  • Markdown – Hugo supports it natively, Drupal requires a plugin
  • Comments – Using Disqus
  • Integration with Goolge Analytics

On top of all that, I gain a few perks over traditional web hosting:

  • Very fast loading – No server-side processing required
  • Versioning – All files are in GitLab
  • Free! – GitLab Pages has a built-in CI which automatically builds my site whenever I make a commit
  • No more database and backup bull$****$
  • No more Drupal updates or crashes
  • No more tedious web backends to update stuff

So now that I have made the move, I migrated all content from the database to .md files and set up a new theme (based on jpescador’s future imperfect port for Hugo) I feel like I have regained control of my website and there are no more obscure cPanel interfaces or memory limit overflows.

My domain is still in the process of being transferred to another registrar, but I am now a happy man.

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