New Blog Software

Many, many years ago, in the flower of my youth (June, 1999), I registered the domain. I can’t remember when I started hosting my own email, but it was around that time. For many years after, I had a server in my home that hosted my email, various websites, and some web applications. Eventually VPS’s became cheap and powerful enough that I ditched the home server and moved everything to the cloud (Linode, specifically).

Linode has been great, and has only gotten cheaper and better over time. But I’ve been doing less and less with my VPS over the years. I moved my mail to Gmail years ago because maintaining deliverability was too much work. I stopped hosting things like wikis and other webapps as cheap or free SaaS offerings became available.

Now the server is doing very little. It runs WordPress for my blog and my resume/portfolio site, hosts a few static sites, and it runs The Lounge for IRC. But do I really need WordPress for a blog? No, not really. Static site generators like Hugo are extremely powerful and require much less maintenance. They also have a much smaller security footprint. I don’t spend much time on IRC, and there are hosted solutions available for free or very low cost.

So I concluded that I really don’t need a server any more. This blog is now running with Hugo, as the footer states. I’m using Render for hosting, which is a really nice service. It’s free(!) for static sites like this one, and configuring it for a Hugo site is incredibly easy. My one concern about Render is that they’re a startup, and I’m always nervous about startup longevity. On the other hand, there are a number of competitors, including Netlify and AWS Amplify. But I hope Render sticks around, and I encourage you to check it out.

The one big change is that this new site no longer support comments. I looked at a few different options for this, but nothing seemed great. There’s Disqus, but no. Just no.

There are also a number of FOSS options, but most require running a persistent service somewhere. There are also some clever serverless options like utterances. But that uses the GitHub API in anonymous mode, which has extremely low rate limits. In testing I found it was easy to exceed those limits, which causes the comments to disappear from the blog until the limit resets. Each person/IP/browser (not sure how GH counts this) has its own limit, but just browsing through the archives is enough to trigger the per-hour limit. I really didn’t like the idea of a heisencomments system.

There are also a few paid options that aren’t creepy, but even the cheapest would run about $2 per month. Given that I write less than 20 posts a year, and most posts don’t get any comments, that seems like a poor use of money.

Instead, I encourage people to submit a blog post to Hacker News or an appropriate subreddit and start a discussion there. You can also email me. And if you find a typo in a post, you can just submit a PR on GitHub directly!