duncanlock.net
Blueprint style diagram showing a Teapot.
Figure 1. A teapot, cut in half. Sort of. Original clipart Kitchen Utensils Silhouette, by GDJ, Public Domain. More on Teapots.

I’ve had a mysterious broken page on this site for a while - but been too busy to look into it. My Comprehensive Linux Backups with etckeeper & backupninja article has been refusing to load, and returning a weird HTTP 418 Unused status code instead. I finally made the time to figure out the cause.

It turned out that this was being caused by the Apache/PHP mod_security module. This is a static website - there’s no PHP anywhere - so why would that be a problem? Well, so far I’ve been very happily hosting the site on my old DreamHost shared hosting account - which comes with Apache & PHP installed whether you want it or not. At some point I …

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As I mentioned previously, this site was put together using Pelican - a static site generator, written in Python.

Blueprint style diagram showing a brown Pelican
Figure 1. Pelecanus Occidentalis - the Brown Pelican. Original clipart Flying Pelican from OpenClipart, by molumen, Public Domain. More on Pelican, the bird.

Static site generators take your content, pour it into your templates and output the result as static pre-generated HTML, CSS, JS & image files. You can then just upload the resulting folder of output to your server and you’re done. All you need on the server is a web server of some sort, like Apache or Nginx - anything really - all it’s doing is serving static pages.

The huge advantage of this setup is simplicity:

  1. You can write your content in Markdown [1], reStructuredText [2] or AsciiDoc [3] - all simple text formats, designed to facilitate writing and get out of …
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