How to Automatically Deploy on Gandi?

I host (this very website) on I use Hugo to generate it and I explain below how, each time I update its content, I automatically upload the new website.

Upload to using LFTP

Gandi offers several hosting solutions, from which I have chosen simple hosting. Generally, I use rsync or scp to upload all my content in one go, but Gandi restricts access to either SFTP or GIT.

I eventually used lftp to automatically synchronise my local content with my Gandi host. lftp is a very powerful FTP client that supports many protocols, and above all, is ‘scriptable’. Here is the script I wrote:

 #!/usr/bash -f
 echo "
 set sftp:connect-program 'ssh -a -x -i $PATH_TO_PRIVATE_KEY';
 open -u $GANDI_LOGIN,xxx s;
 mirror -c -e -R $LOCAL_CONTENT $REMOTE_CONTENT" > upload_script.txt
 lftp -f upload_script.txt 

A couple of explanations, though:

  • lftp is available in most Linux repositories. On Debian, I installed it using apt-get install lftp.

  • You must replace $PATH_PRIVATE_KEY by the path to your own private RSA key (on your local machine). Remember to register the associated public key on the Gandi portal. If the portal rejects your key—as it did for mine—you can still manually edit the .ssh/authorized_keys in a SFTP session opened with login and password (I use WinSCP in that case).

  • $GANDI_LOGIN stands for your user login (e.g., 123456). It appears on the Gandi portal, when you place your mouse on a small information sign next to the SFTP entry.

  • You must provide a dummy password (xxx in my script) to avoid LFTP to prompt you for one. This would make your script hang if you use it to automate the upload (as shown below).

  • Remember to use the -d option of lftp to debug issues. I find it especially useful to investigate authentication failures.

Store Content on GitHub

I generate this website using Hugo. Hugo converts articles written as simple Markdown files into complicated HTML pages. I secure these Markdown files along with Hugo’s configuration in a dedicated GitHub repository and when I push some changes to GitHub, I want the site to be regenerated and redeployed, automatically.

The trick is to install Hugo’s themes as Git submodules. If we do not, git would detect that themes are also GitHub repositories and their content would be excluded from your repository. Any clone of your repository would then lack its themes. To install a theme as a submodule, I clone it using:

$> cd themes 
$> git submodule add

Now, when I checkout my website’s sources (say on the continuous integration server), I must explicitly ask Git to also clone the submodules (i.e., the themes). I either do git submodule update --init --recursive before to ask Hugo to build the website or I make a recursive clone using git clone --recursive

Automate Using

J.C. Lavocat explained how to automate the deployment of Hugo site using He uses rsync instead of lftp but his solution works just fine. Here is how I adapted it:

# Install Hugo, directly from Github
go get -v -u
cd ~/clone

# Mirror the content
echo "
open -u $GANDI_LOGIN,xxx s;
mirror -c -e -R public $REMOTE_CONTENT" > upload_script.txt
lftp -f upload_script.txt 

The downside is that we then automatically fetch the latest development version of Hugo’s sources, instead installing the latest stable release. From time to time the generation will fail because of some new and unstable features under development.

Or Automate Using Wercker

Hugo’s documentation actually suggests using Wercker. In my view, it is more convoluted, but it permits specifying a version of Hugo. I proceed as follows:

  1. Register to the Wercker website;
  2. Create a wercker.yml configuration (see below);
  3. Create a deployment pipeline, and generate a new pair of RSA keys attached to the deploy step;
  4. Register your public RSA key on (I had to do it manually, by editing the .ssh/authorized_keys).

Below is the wercker.yml that eventually worked for me, after many trials and errors—I must admit. I adapted Joseph Stahl’s solution to deploy on Digital Ocean. I change two things:

  • I adjusted the build phase so that I also clone the themes as submodules.
  • I do not fetch and store the private key manually, I use the add-ssh-key step instead.
box: debian
    - install-packages:
        packages: git
    - script:
        name: initialize git submodules
        code: |
            git submodule update --init --recursive
    - arjen/hugo-build:
        version: "0.16"
        theme: hugo-icarus-theme
        flags: -v
    - install-packages:
        packages: openssh-client lftp
    - add-to-known_hosts:
    - add-ssh-key:
        keyname: DEPLOY
    - script:
        name: Mirror on
        code: |
           echo "
           set sftp:connect-program 'ssh -a -x -i /root/.ssh/config';
           open -u 123456,xxx s;
           mirror -c -e -R public your_remote/directory;" > script.txt
           lftp -d -f script.txt
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