Setting Up Jekyll with Nginx on Debian and Ubuntu Systems

Creating a static website and hosting it has never been easier, thanks to modern web development tools such as Jekyll. Jekyll is a static site generator powered by Ruby that allows you to create fast, secure, and easily maintainable websites. When combined with Nginx, a powerful HTTP server and reverse proxy, you have a powerful and flexible website deployment mechanism. This guide explains how to set up Jekyll with Nginx as a reverse proxy on Debian and Ubuntu systems.

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • How to install Jekyll, a popular static site generator, and other necessary software packages on Debian and Ubuntu systems.
  • Creating a new Jekyll site.
  • Setting up Jekyll as a systemd service, which allows it to start automatically on boot and restart if it crashes.
  • Configuring Nginx as a reverse proxy for the Jekyll service. This helps to manage HTTP requests and optimize performance.
  • Understanding the importance of running services as a non-root user for enhancing system security.
Setting Up Jekyll with Nginx on Debian and Ubuntu Systems
Setting Up Jekyll with Nginx on Debian and Ubuntu Systems
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Any Linux distro
Software Debian,Ubuntu,Jekyll,Nginx,Git,Ruby,Bundler,systemd
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # – requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ – requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Install Required Software
    First, update your system and install the required software packages:

    # apt update
    # apt install ruby-full build-essential zlib1g-dev nginx git -y

    Then, install Jekyll and Bundler:

    # gem install jekyll bundler
  2. Create Your Jekyll Site
    Create a new Jekyll site by using the command below. Run the command from the directory you wish to host your site from:

    $ jekyll new mysite

    When you run the command jekyll new mysite in a terminal, a new Jekyll site will be created in a directory named mysite. The location of this directory depends on where you are in your filesystem when you run the command.

    For example, if you are in your home directory (/home/yourusername for a typical user, or /root for the root user) when you run the command, the site will be located at /home/yourusername/mysite or /root/mysite, respectively.
  3. Set Up Jekyll as a Systemd Service
    Create a new systemd service file for Jekyll. Make sure that you get the WorkingDirectory path right as per the step above:

    # nano /etc/systemd/system/jekyll.service

    Then, add the following content:

    Description=Jekyll Service
    ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/jekyll serve --host --port 4000

    Finally, enable and start the Jekyll service:

    # systemctl enable jekyll
    # systemctl start jekyll
  4. Set Up Nginx as a Reverse ProxyRemove the default Nginx configuration:Create a new Nginx configuration file:
    # nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/jekyll

    And add the following content with a correct server_name as your domain name for your new website:

    server {
        listen 80;
        listen [::]:80;
        server_name your-domain-name;
        location / {
            proxy_pass http://localhost:4000;
            proxy_set_header Host $host;
            proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
            proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
            proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Proto $scheme;

    Finally, enable the new configuration and restart Nginx:

    # ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/jekyll /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/
    # nginx -t
    # systemctl restart nginx

  5. Testing Your Jekyll SiteAfter completing the setup, it’s essential to verify that everything is working as expected. You can test your Jekyll site by visiting your domain in a web browser.In a web browser, navigate to your domain (replace your-domain-name with your actual domain):
    $ wget http://your-domain-name

    You should see your Jekyll site load up successfully. If not, make sure your DNS settings are correctly pointing your domain to your server’s IP address, and that Nginx and the Jekyll service are running properly on the server.

    Additionally, check the Nginx logs for any error messages that might help you troubleshoot any issues:

    # journalctl -u nginx

    And the Jekyll service logs:

    # journalctl -u jekyll

    By following these steps, you can confirm that your Jekyll site is running and accessible via the domain you configured.


By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can successfully set up Jekyll with Nginx as a reverse proxy on your Debian or Ubuntu system. This configuration offers an efficient environment for deploying and managing your static websites.

However, remember that while this setup provides a functioning web service, it’s only accessible via HTTP by default. In today’s digital environment, enhancing the security of your website with HTTPS is paramount. It not only secures the communication between your website and its visitors but also builds trust with your audience and can even improve your site’s SEO. Therefore, configuring Nginx for HTTPS using a trusted SSL certificate is highly recommended for production environments.

Lastly, while running services as a root user might seem easier, it’s advised to run services as a dedicated non-root user for increased system security.

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