Month: August 2023

  • 📂

    Don’t stop building

    I really enjoy building scripts for my own workflow.

    I wish I had the skills to build things in the real world, but until then I’ll keep building stuff in the digital space only.

    Although I love working with PHP and Laravel, it is Bash that has re-ignited a passion in me to just build stuff without thinking its got to work towards being some kind of “profitable” side project.

    Don’t. Stop. Building.

  • 📂

    Lupo static site generator

    What is Lupo?

    Lupo is a simple static site generator, written in Bash.

    I built it for myself to publish to a simple website of my own directly from the command line.

    It was inspired by Rob Muhlestein and his approach to the Zettelkasten method.


    Running through the following set of commands will install the lupo bash script to the following location on your system: $HOME/.local/bin/lupo

    If you add the $HOME/.local/bin directory to your $PATH, then you can execute the lupo command from anywhere.

    I chosen that directory as it seems to be a pretty standard location for user-specific scripts to live.

    git clone
    cd ./lupo
    cd ..
    rm -rf ./lupo

    Anatomy of a Lupo website

    The structure of a newly-initialized Lupo website project is as follows:


    All of your website source code lives within the ./src directory. This is where you structure your website however you want it to be structured in the final html.

    You can write your pages / posts in markdown and lupo will convert them when building.

    When building it into the final html, lupo will copy the structure of your ./src directory into your ./html directory, converting any markdown files (any files ending in .md) into html files.

    Any JavaScript or CSS files are left alone and copied over in the same directory relative to the ./html root.

    Starting a lupo website

    Create a directory that you want to be your website project, and initialize it as a Lupo project:

    mkdir ./my website
    cd ./my-website
    lupo init

    The init command will create the required directories, including a file located at $HOME/.config/lupo/config.

    You don’t need to worry about the config file just yet.

    Create your homepage file and add some text to it:

    touch ./src/
    echo "Hello World" > ./src/

    Now just run the build command to generate the final html:

    lupo build

    You should now have two files in your ./html directory: an index.html file and a style.css file.

    The index.html was converted from your ./src/ file and moved into the root of the ./html directory. The style.css file was copied over verbatim to the html directory.

    Viewing your site locally

    Lupo doesn’t currently have a way to launch a local webserver, but you could open a browser and point the address bar to the root of your project ./html folder.

    I use an nginx docker image to preview my site locally, and will build in this functionality into lupo soon.

    Page metadata

    Each markdown page that you create, can have an option metadata section at the top of the page. This is known as “frontmatter”. Here is an example you could add to the top of your ./src/ file:

    title: My Super Homepage
    Here is the normal page content

    That will set the page’s title to “My Super Homepage”. This will also make the %title% variable available in your template files. (More on templates further down the page)

    If you re-run the lupo build command, and look again at your homepage, you should now see an <h1> tag withyou title inside.

    The Index page

    You can generate an index of all of your pages with the index command:

    lupo index
    lupo build

    Once you’ve built the website after running index, you will see a file at ./html/index/index.html. This is a simple index / archive of all of the pages on your website.

    For pages with a title set in their metadata block, that title will be used in the index listing. For any pages without a title set, the uri to the page will be used instead.

    @todo ADD SEARCH to source and add to docs here.

    Tag index pages

    Within your page metadata block, you can also define a list of “tags” like so:

    title: My Super Page
        - tagone
        - tagtwo
        - anotherone
    The page content.

    When you run the lupo index command, it will also go through all of your pages and use the tags to generate “tag index pages”.

    These are located at the following location/uri: ./html/tags/tagname/index.html.

    These tag index pages will list all pages that contain that index’s tag.

    Customizing your website

    Lupo is very basic and doesn’t offer that much in the way of customization. And that is intentional – I built it as a simple tool for me and just wanted to share it with anyone else that may be interested.

    That being said, there are currently two template files within the ./templates directory:


    tags.template.html is used when generating the “tag index” pages and the main “index” page.

    default.template.html is used for all other pages.

    I am planning to add some flexibility to this in the near future and will update this page when added.

    You are free to customize the templates as you want. And of course you can go wild with your CSS.

    I’m also considering adding an opt-in css compile step to enable the use of something like sass.

    New post helper

    To help with the boilerplate of add a new “post”, I add the following command:

    lupo post

    When ran, it will ask you for a title. Once answered, it will generate the post src file and pre-fill the metadata block with that title and the current date and timestamp.

    The post will be created at the following location:

    # For example:

    Page edit helper

    At present, this requires you to have fzf installed. I am looking to try and replace that dependancy with the find command.

    To help find a page you want to edit, you can run the following command:

    lupo edit

    This will open up a fuzzy search finder where you can type to search for the page you want to edit.

    The results will narrow down as you type.

    When you press enter, it will attmept to open that source page in your system’s default editor. Defined in your $EDITOR environment variable.

    Automatic rebuild on save

    This requires you to have inotifywait installed.

    Sometimes you will be working on a longer-form page or post, and want to refresh the browser to see your changes as you write it.

    It quickly becomes tedious to have to keep running lupo build to see those changes.

    So running the following command will “watch” you ./src directory for any changes, and rebuild any file that is altered in any way. It will only rebuild that single file; not the entire project.

    Deploying to a server

    This requires you to have rsync installed.

    This assumes that you have a server setup and ready to host a static html website.

    I covered how I set up my own server in This Terraform post and This Ansible post.

    All that lupo needs to be able to deploy your site, is for you to add the required settings in your config file at $HOME/.config/lupo/config

    • remote_user – This is the user who owns the directory where the html files will be sent to.
    • ssh_identity_key – This is the path to the private key file on your computer that pairs with the public key on your remote server.
    • domain_name – The domain name pointing to your server.
    • remote_directory – The full path to the directory where your html files are served from on your server.

    For example:

    remote_user: david
    ssh_identity_key: ~/.ssh/id_rsa
    remote_directory: /var/www/

    Then run the following command:

    lupo push

    With any luck you should see the feedback for the files pushed to your remote server.

    Assuming you have set up you domain name to point to your server correctly, you should be able to visit you website in a browser and see your newly-deployed website.

    Going live

    This is an experimental feature

    If you’ve got the lupo watch and lupo push commands working, then the live command should also work:

    lupo live

    This will watch your project for changes, and recompile each updated page and push it to your server as it is saved.

    The feedback is a bit verbose currently and the logic needs making a bit smarter. But it does currently work in its initial form.

  • 📂

    Using ansible to prepare a digital ocean droplet to host a static website


    This guide comes logically after the previous one I wrote about setting up a digital ocean server with Terraform.

    You can clone my website’s ansible repository for reference.

    The main logic for this Ansible configuration happens in the setup.yml file. This file can be called whatever you like as we’ll call it by name later on.

    Installing Ansible

    You can install Ansible with your package manager of choice.

    I install it using pacman on Arch Linux:

    sudo pacman -S ansible

    The inventory.yml file

    The inventory file is where I have set the relative configuration needed for the playbook.

    The all key contains all of the host configurations (although I’m only using a single one).

    Within that all key is vars.ansible_ssh_private_key_file which is just the local path to the ssh private key used to access the server.

    This is the key I set up with Terraform in the previous guide.

    Then the hosts key just contains the hosts I want to be able to target (im using the domain name that I set up in the previous Terraform guide)

    The setup.yml file explained

    The setup.yml file is what is known as an “Ansible Playbook”.

    From my limited working knowledge of Ansible, a playbook is basically a set of tasks that are run against a server or a collection of servers.

    In my own one I am currently only running it against a single server, which I am targeting via its domain name of “”

    - hosts: all
      become: true
      user: root
        - vars/default.yml

    This first section is the setup of the playbook.

    hosts:all tells it to run against all hosts that are defined in the ./inventory.yml file.

    become:true is saying that ansible will switch to the root user on the server (defined on the next line with user: root) before running the playbook tasks.

    The vars_files: part lets you set relative paths to files containing variables that are used in the playbook and inside the file ./files/nginx.conf.j2.

    I wont go through each of the variables but hopefully you can see what they are doing.

    The Playbook Tasks

    Each of the tasks in the Playbook has a descriptive title that hopefully does well in explaining what the steps are doing.

    The key value pairs of configuration after each of the task titles are pre-defined settings available to use in ansible.

    The tasks read from top to bottom and essentially automate the steps that normally need to be manually done when preparing a server.

    Running the playbook

    cd ansible-project
    ansible-playbook setup.yml -i inventory.yml

    This command should start Ansible off. You should get the usual message about trusting the target host when first connecting to the server. Just answer “yes” and press enter.

    You should now see the output for each step defined in the playbook.

    The server should now be ready to deploy to.

    Testing your webserver

    In the ./files/nginx.conf.j2 there is a root directive on live 3. For me this is set to /var/www/{{ http_host }}. (http_host is a variable set in the vars/default.yml file).

    SSH on to the server, using the private ssh key from the keypair I am using (see the Terraform guide for reference).

    ssh -i ~/.ssh/id_rsa.davidpeachme

    Then on the server, create a basic index.html file in the website root defined in the default nginx file:

    cd /var/www/
    touch index.html
    echo "hello world" > index.html

    Now, going to your website url in a browser, you should be able to see the text “hello world” in the top left.

    The server is ready to host a static html website.

    Next Step

    You can use whatever method you prefer to get your html files on to your server.

    You could use rsync, scp, an overly-complicated CI pipeline, or – if your’e using lupo – your could have lupo deploy it straight to your server for you.

  • 📂

    Setting up a Digital Ocean droplet for a Lupo website with Terraform

    Overview of this guide

    My Terraform Repository used in this guide

    Terraform is a program that enables you to set up all of your cloud-based infrastructure with configuration files. This is opposed to the traditional way of logging into a cloud provider’s dashboard and manually clicking buttons and setting up things yourself.

    This is known as “Infrastructure as Code”.

    It can be intimidating to get started, but my aim with this guide is to get you to the point of being able to deploy a single server on Digital Ocean, along with some surrounding items like a DNS A record and an ssh key for remote access.

    This guide assumes that you have a Digital Ocean account and that you also have your domain and nameservers setup to point to Digital Ocean.

    You can then build upon those foundations and work on building out your own desired infrastructures.

    The Terraform Flow

    As a brief outline, here is what will happen when working with terraform, and will hopefully give you a broad picture from which I can fill in the blanks below.

    • Firstly we write a configuration file that defines the infrastructure that we want.
    • Then we need to set up any access tokens, ssh keys and terraform variables. Basically anything that our Terraform configuration needs to be able to complete its task.
    • Finally we run the terraform plan command to test our infrastructure configuration, and then terraform apply to make it all live.

    Installing the Terraform program

    Terraform has installation instructions, but you may be able to find it with your package manager.

    Here I am installing it on Arch Linux, by the way, with pacman

    sudo pacman -S terraform

    Setting the required variables

    The configuration file for the infrastructure I am using requires only a single variable from outside. That is the do_token.

    This is created manually in the API section of the Digital Ocean dashboard. Create yours and keep its value to hand for usage later.

    Terraform accepts variables in a number of ways. I opt to save my tokens in my local password manager, and then use them when prompted by the terraform command. This is slightly more long-winding than just setting a terraform-specific env in your bashrc. However, I recently learned off rwxrob how much of a bad idea that is.

    Creating an ssh key

    In the file, I could have set the ssh public key path to my existing one. However, I thought I’d create a key pair specific for my website deployment.

    ssh-keygen -t rsa

    I give it a different name so as to not override my standard id_rsa one. I call it id_rsa.davidpeachme just so I know which is my website server one at a glance.

    Describing your desired infrastructure with code

    Terraform uses a declaritive language, as opposed to imperetive.

    What this means for you, is that you write configuration files that describe the state that you want your infrastructure to be in. For example if you want a single server, you just add the server spec in your configuration and Terraform will work out how best to create it for you.

    You dont need to be concerned with the nitty gritty of how it is achieved.

    I have a real-life example that will show you exactly what a minimal configuration can look like.

    Clone / fork the repository for my website server.

    Explaination of my terraform repository

    terraform {
      required_providers {
        digitalocean = {
          source = "digitalocean/digitalocean"
          version = "~> 2.0"
    variable "do_token" {}
    # Variables whose values are defined in ./terraform.tfvars
    variable "domain_name" {}
    variable "droplet_image" {}
    variable "droplet_name" {}
    variable "droplet_region" {}
    variable "droplet_size" {}
    variable "ssh_key_name" {}
    variable "ssh_local_path" {}
    provider "digitalocean" {
      token = var.do_token

    The first block tells terraform which providers I want to use. Providers are essentially the third-party APIs that I am going to interact with.

    Since I’m only creating a Digital Ocean droplet, and a couple of surrounding resources, I only need the digitalocean/digitalocean provider.

    The second block above tells terraform that it should expect – and require – a single variable to be able to run. This is the Digital Ocean Access Token that was obtained above in the previous section, from the Digital Ocean dashboard.

    Following that are the variables that I have defined myself in the ./terraform.tfvars file. That tfvars file would normally be kept out of a public repository. However, I kept it in so that you could hopefully just fork my repo and change those values for your own usage.

    The bottom block is the setting up of the provider. Basically just passing the access token into the provider so that it can perform the necessary API calls it needs to.

    resource "digitalocean_ssh_key" "ssh_key" {
      name       = var.ssh_key_name
      public_key = file(var.ssh_local_path)

    Here is the first resource that I am telling terraform to create. Its taking a public key on my local filesystem and sending it to Digital Ocean.

    This is needed for ssh access to the server once it is ready. However, it is added to the root account on the server.

    I use Ansible for setting up the server with the required programs once Terraform has built it. So this ssh key is actually used by Ansible to gain access to do its thing.

    I will have a separate guide soon on how I use ansible to set my server up ready to host my static website.

    resource "digitalocean_droplet" "droplet" {
      image    = var.droplet_image
      name     = var.droplet_name
      region   = var.droplet_region
      size     = var.droplet_size
      ssh_keys = [digitalocean_ssh_key.ssh_key.fingerprint]

    Here is the meat of the infrastructure – the droplet itself. I am telling it what operating system image I want to use; what size and region I want; and am telling it to make use of the ssh key I added in the previous block.

    data "digitalocean_domain" "domain" {
      name = var.domain_name

    This block is a little different. Here I am using the data property to grab information about something that already exists in my Digital Ocean account.

    I have already set up my domain in Digital Ocean’s networking area.

    This is the overarching domain itself – not the specific A record that will point to the server.

    The reason i’m doing it this way, is because I have got mailbox settings and TXT records that are working, so i dont want them to be potentially torn down and re-created with the rest of my infrastructure if I ever run terraform destroy.

    resource "digitalocean_record" "record" {
      domain =
      type   = "A"
      name   = "@"
      ttl    = 60
      value  = "${digitalocean_droplet.droplet.ipv4_address}"

    The final block creates the actual A record with my existing domain settings.

    It uses the domain id given back by the data block i defined above, and the ip address of the created droplet for the A record value.

    Testing and Running the config to create the infrastructure

    If you now go into the root of your terraform project and run the following command, you should see it displays a write up of what it intends to create:

    terraform plan

    If the output looks okay to you, then type the following command and enter “yes” when it asks you:

    terraform apply

    This should create the three items of infrastructure we have defined.

    Next Step

    Next we need to set that server up with the required software needed to run a static html website.

    I will be doing this with a program called Ansible.

    I’ll be writing up those steps in a zet very soon.

  • 📂

    Beyond Aliases — define your development workflow with custom bash scripts

    Being a Linux user for just over 10 years now, I can’t imagine my life with my aliases.

    Aliases help with removing the repetition of commonly-used commands on a system.

    For example, here’s some of my own that I use with the Laravel framework:

    alias a="php artisan"
    alias sail='[ -f sail ] && bash sail || bash vendor/bin/sail'
    alias stan="./vendor/bin/phpstan analyse"

    You can set these in your ~/.bashrc file. See mine in my dotfiles as a fuller example.

    However, I recently came to want greater control over my development workflow. And so, with the help of videos by rwxrob, I came to embrace the idea of learning bash, and writing my own little scripts to help in various places in my workflow.

    A custom bash script

    For the example here, I’ll use the action of wanting to “exec” on to a local docker container.

    Sometimes you’ll want to get into a shell within a local docker container to test / debug things.

    I found I was repeating the same steps to do this and so I made a little script.

    Here is the script in full:

    docker container ls | fzf | awk '{print $1}' | xargs -o -I % docker exec -it % bash

    Breaking it down

    In order to better understand this script I’ll assume no prior knowledge and explain some bash concepts along the way.

    Sh-bang line.

    the first line is the “sh-bang”. It basically tells your shell which binary should execute this script when ran.

    For example you could write a valid php script and add #!/usr/bin/php at the top, which would tell the shell to use your php binary to interpret the script.

    So #!/usr/bash means we are writing a bash script.


    The pipe symbol: |.

    In brief, a “pipe” in bash is a way to pass the output of the left hand command to the input of the right hand command.

    So the order of the commands to be ran in the script is in this order:

    1. docker container ls
    2. fzf
    3. awk ‘{print $1}’
    4. xargs -o -I % docker exec -it % bash

    docker container ls

    This gives us the list of currently-running containers on our system. The output is the list like so (I’ve used an image as the formatting gets messed up when pasting into a post as text) :


    So the output of the docker container ls command above is the table in the image above, which is several rows of text.

    fzf is a “fuzzy finder” tool, which can be passed a list of pretty much anything, which can then be searched over by “fuzzy searching” the list.

    In this case the list is each row of that output (header row included)

    When you select (press enter) on your chosen row, that row of text is returned as the output of the command.

    In this image example you can see I’ve typed in “app” to search for, and it has highlighted the closest matching row.

    awk ‘{print $1}’

    awk is an extremely powerful tool, built into linux distributions, that allows you to parse structured text and return specific parts of that text.

    '{print $1}' is saying “take whatever input I’m given, split it up based on a delimeter, and return the item that is 1st ($1).

    The default delimeter is a space. So looking at that previous image example, the first piece of text in the docker image rows is the image ID: `”df96280be3ad” in the app image chosen just above.

    So pressing enter for that row from fzf, wil pass it to awk, which will then split that row up by spaces and return you the first element from that internal array of text items.

    xargs -o -I % docker exec -it % bash

    xargs is another powerful tool, which enables you to pass what ever is given as input, into another command. I’ll break it down further to explain the flow:

    The beginning of the xargs command is as so:

    xargs -o -I %

    -o is needed when running an “interactive application”. Since our goal is to “exec” on to the docker container we choose, interactive is what we need. -o means to “open stdin (standard in) as /dev/tty in the child process before executing the command we specify.

    Next, -I % is us telling xargs, “when you next see the ‘%’ character, replace it with what we give you as input. Which in this case will be that docker container ID returned from the awk command previously.

    So when you replace the % character in the command that we are giving xargs, it will read as such:

    docker exec -it df96280be3ad bash

    This is will “exec” on to that docker container and immediately run “bash” in that container.

    Goal complete.

    Put it in a script file

    So all that’s needed now, is to have that full set of piped commands in an executable script:

    docker container ls | fzf | awk '{print $1}' | xargs -o -I % docker exec -it % bash

    My own version of this script is in a file called d8exec, which after saving it I ran:

    chmod +x ./d8exec

    Call the script

    In order to be able to call your script from anywhere in your terminal, you just need to add the script to a directory that is in your $PATH. I keep mine at ~/.local/bin/, which is pretty standard for a user’s own scripts in Linux.

    You can see how I set my own in my .bashrc file here. The section that reads $HOME/.local/bin is the relevant piece. Each folder that is added to the $PATH is separated by the : character.

    Feel free to explore further

    You can look over all of my own little scripts in my bin folder for more inspiration for your own bash adventures.

    Have fun. And don’t put anything into your scripts that you wouldn’t want others seeing (api keys / secrets etc)

  • 📂

    Strange Things are Afoot

    Complete a task for a stranger

    Red Dead Redemption

  • 📂

    Clemency Pays

    Capture a bounty alive.

    — Red Dead Redemption

  • 📂

    That Government Boy

    Complete “Exodus in America”

    — Red Dead Redemption