Fully Migrated to GitHub Pages

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My danvk.org site is now fully hosted on GitHub pages. I changed the DNS entry last night.

My hope was to do this without breaking anything. That didn't prove to be possible, but I came close. And overall, the process wasn't too bad! It was helpful to make a census of material that was on my old site using access logs. This turned up a few redirects I wouldn't have thought of, and also reminded me of the many features my old site accumulated over the years. Some of these are now accessible under the "Features" menu on the new site.

There were a few pain points:

  • Redirects

    It would have been enormously helpful if GitHub pages supported something like mod_rewrite. As it was I had to kill a few old links because I was completely unable to generate 301/302 redirects. I wound up hard-coding JavaScript redirects instead. It's not ideal, and I'll probably lose some pagerank, but it's the best I could do.

  • Migrating the domain

    I really hate DNS. It's impossible to know whether your site isn't working because you've misconfigured your DNS, or because the new records haven't propagated out yet. I'm surprised more sites don't go down because of DNS problems. The Global DNS Propagation Tracker was indispensible as a sanity check.

One thing that worked really well was migrating my old WordPress blog. I'd expected this to be a complete pain, but it was nothing of the sort. I used httrack to mirror the rendered version of my blog site to a folder on local disk. Then I checked that folder into GitHub. Done.

Finally, I learned a lot about Jekyll from this process. It really is a static content generator. It's not a serving system. This is why it can't do things like 301/302 redirects. GitHub pages would be a much more powerful serving system if it included support for things like mod_rewrite. But then it would be less Jekyll-y. The beauty of the system is that it's pure static content, and hence insanely fast and simple.

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