Sudarshan's Blog

My Thoughts, Findings & Experiences

Installing Ghost on Azure from GIT

February 19, 2015 21:59

I was looking for a good blogging platform and Ghost is a very good option! Azure has gallery image for Ghost, but there are few disadvantages of using gallery image

  • If you want to customize the contents (for example theme) then its hard
  • There is no functionality of adding comments
  • No Google Analytics integration
  • You can't add your new pages
  • If you add some of the above functionality then you need to do that via FTP, there will be no auto deployment from source control
  • There is no easy way to upgrade to newer version

So, if you want to overcome above issues then you need to fork Ghost source code and work on it!

There are a bunch of articles on how to do that, but some of them are old and some of them don't work on Ghost GIT fork. So, I thought I should document steps which worked for me.

Step 1: Fork Ghost repository

  • Login to GitHub using your GIT credentials
  • Go to Ghost repository
  • Click on 'Fork' button
  • Once Fork operation is done, you will see Ghost repository under your GitHub account

Step 2: Clone forked repository

Open Git command prompt on your machine and run below command (Assuming GIT is installed on your machine)

> git clone<Your GitHub handle>/Ghost.git

Step 3: Compile Ghost code

Please make sure that you have NodeJS installed on your computer. To check this open command prompt and run command node -v If it returns value then you are fine else you need to install node first

Run below commands to build the code

> npm install -g grunt-cli  // This will install Grunt
> npm install                // This will install all Ghost dependencies
> grunt init                // Compile JS and express web application

Step 4: Test locally

To test locally just run below command

> npm start                    // This will start node application

This will run an application in development mode and on port 2368. So, application URL will be http://localhost:2368

Step 5: Compile contents for Production

To compile files for Production, run below command

> grunt prod                // Generates and minifies the JavaScript files

This will generate necessary files for Production

Step 6: Add config.js file

If your repository does not haveconfig.js file then copyconfig.example.js file and rename it toconfig.js.

Also, you need to update production settings from the file as follows

production: {
    url: '<YOUR WEBSITE URL>', // For example
    mail: {},
    database: {
        client: 'sqlite3',
        connection: {
            filename: path.join(__dirname, '/content/data/ghost.db')
        debug: false

    server: {
        // Host to be passed to node's `net.Server#listen()`
        host: '',
        // Port to be passed to node's `net.Server#listen()`, for iisnode set this to `process.env.PORT`
        port: process.env.PORT

Make sure that you are updating the port value to process.env.PORT. This is important Else it will NOT work after deployment to Azure.

Step 7: Add server.js file

Azure websites work on IIS, so to specify this is NodeJS application, we need to addserver.js file at the root. So, create a new JS file with nameserver.js and add below contents to it

var GhostServer = require('./index');

Step 8: Update .gitignore file

By default Ghost repository ignores below files which are required to run application correctly on Azure website

  1. config.js
  2. /core/built
  3. /core/client/assets/css

So, remove above lines from the.gitignore file

Step 9: Add 'iisnode' configuration file

When Azure deploys the application from GIT, it will create iisnode.yml file. If you want to tell IIS to capture the output and error messages, then you need to update this file. You can do this by connecting via FTP and modify the file. BUT I prefer to add that as part of a repository so that Azure GIT deployment will not override modified file after each deployment.

So, create file iisnode.yml at the root level. Add below lines in the file

loggingEnabled: true
devErrorsEnabled: true
logDirectory: iisnode

Now, IIS will create a directory with name iisnode and log output and errors.

Step 10: Commit & Push changes

After making all above changes, commit those and push it to GitHub repository. To do this run following commands

> git add .
> git commit -am "<Commit message>"
> git push origin master

Step 11: Create Azure website with GIT deployment

  1. Choose 'Custom Create' option for website. So that we can configure GitHub for deployment 
    Website Options
  2. Enter unique website name & check 'Publish from source control' checkbox
    Choose source control option
  3. Select 'GitHub' option
    Choose GitHub repository
  4. Enter your credentials and GitHub will show you the repositories and its branches. Choose appropriate repository and branch

    Choose repository & branch

    Click on 'Done' arrow

Deployments tab will now appear and Azure website will start the deployment. Once deployment is done it will show successful message like

Website Deployment

Step 12: Change Website configuration

We need to set NodeJS configuration variable in website configuration. To do this click on Configure tab in Azure website and scroll down to app settings section. Add app setting with name NODE_ENV with value production

Settings will look like

App Settings

DON'T miss to click on Save button at the bottom & restart the website

YOU are ALL SET!! Access your website now and Ghost should be running fine. If it gives HTTP 500 error, let's refresh one more time and you should be good to go!

After this whenever you make a change and push changes to the appropriate branch, Azure will automatically detect the changes and redeploy the website!

You have full control of Ghost now. You can update contents & add new pages using your favorite editor. You can now integrate comment provider of your choice and integrate Google Analytics too!

If you have any questions or face issues then please post them as a comment.

Happy Blogging!