Learn How To Deploy Ghost on Debian 8.7

May 6, 2019

Table of Contents

If you are using a different system, please check our other tutorials.

Ghost is an open source blogging platform that is gaining popularity among developers and ordinary users since its 2013 release. It puts focus on content and blogging. The most attractive thing about Ghost is its simple, clean, and responsive design. You can write your blog posts from a mobile phone. Content for Ghost is written using the Markdown language.

In this guide we are going to set up and deploy Ghost blog on an Debian 8.7 VPS using Let’s Encrypt, Node.js and Nginx.

Let’s Encrypt (Certbot)

Before starting this step, ensure that you have set DNS records for your domain.

  1. Update system:

    apt update && apt upgrade -y
  2. Install needed tools:

    apt install -y zip build-essential
  3. Enable the Jessie backports repo. Run apt edit-sources and paste the below line at the end of /etc/apt/sources.list file:

    # Copy/Paste the below line at the end of file
    deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian jessie-backports main
  4. Refresh package sources:

    apt update
  5. Install Certbot (a.k.a Let’s Encrypt client):

    apt install -y certbot -t jessie-backports
  6. Check version:

    certbot --version
    # certbot 0.9.3
  7. Obtain certificate:

    certbot certonly -d example.com -d www.example.com --email john.doe@mail.com --agree-tos --standalone

    After going through previous steps, your certificate and private key will be in the /etc/letsencrypt/live/example.com directory.

Install NodeJS

Ghost currently supports Node versions 0.12.x, 4.2+, and 6.9+ only.

We are going to install the recommended version for Ghost which is v4 argon LTS at the time of this writing.

  1. Download and install the LTS version of Node.js:

    curl -sL https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_4.x | sudo -E bash -
    apt install -y nodejs
  2. Check Node and NPM version:

    node -v && npm -v
    # v4.7.2
    # 2.15.11

Install Nginx

  1. Download and install Nginx:

    apt install nginx -t jessie-backports
  2. Check the Nginx version:

    nginx -v
    # nginx version: nginx/1.9.10
  3. Start Nginx service and check status:

    systemctl start nginx
    systemctl status nginx
  4. Configure Nginx as a reverse proxy:

    vi /etc/nginx/conf.d/ghost.conf
  5. Paste the following in /etc/nginx/conf.d/ghost.conf:

    server {
        listen 80;
        listen [::]:80;
        listen 443 ssl http2;
        listen [::]:443 ssl http2;
        server_name example.com www.example.com;
        ssl_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/live/example.com/fullchain.pem;
        ssl_certificate_key /etc/letsencrypt/live/example.com/privkey.pem;
        ssl_protocols TLSv1 TLSv1.1 TLSv1.2;
        location / {
            proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
            proxy_set_header Host $http_host;
            proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Proto $scheme;
  6. Check syntax:

    nginx -t
  7. Reload Nginx:

    systemctl reload nginx

Install Ghost

If you want to host multiple Ghost blogs on the same VPS, each Ghost instance must be running on a separate port.

  1. Make the webroot directory:

    mkdir -p /var/www/
  2. Create a Ghost user:

    adduser ghost
  3. Download and install Ghost:

    cd /var/www
    wget https://ghost.org/zip/ghost-latest.zip
    unzip ghost-latest.zip -d ghost
    chown -R ghost:ghost /var/www/ghost/
    rm ghost-latest.zip
  4. Switch to the ghost user:

    su - ghost
  5. Install Ghost:

    cd /var/www/ghost
    npm install --production
  6. Configure Ghost by changing the url property of the production object inside of the config.js file:

    cp config.example.js config.js
    vi config.js
    config = {
    // ### Production
    // When running Ghost in the wild, use the production environment.
    // Configure your URL and mail settings here
    production: {
        url: 'https://example.com',

    NOTE: You should configure mail also. Consult the official Ghost documentation on how to do that.

  7. Save config.js file and exit.

  8. Start Ghost:

    npm start --production

    Ghost is now running on your server. Both blog front-end and admin interface are secured with HTTPS and HTTP/2 is working also. You can open your browser and visit your site at https://example.com. Don’t forget to replace example.com with your domain name.

Keep Ghost running

If you close the terminal session to your VPS, your blog will also go down. That’s not good. To avoid this, we are going to use the Forever process manager. That will keep your blog up 24/7.

  1. Switch to the ghost user:

    su - ghost
  2. Go to the /var/www/ghost folder:

    cd /var/www/ghost
  3. Install Forever:

    npm install forever
  4. Add the new forever command to your path:

    echo "export PATH=/var/www/ghost/node_modules/forever/bin:$PATH" >> ~/.bashrc
    source ~/.bashrc
  5. Start Ghost with Forever:

    NODE_ENV=production /var/www/ghost/node_modules/forever/bin/forever start index.js

    At this point, forever should have started Ghost.

  6. Go to https://example.com/ghost and create a Ghost admin account. Do this as soon as possible.


That’s it. We now have a fully functional Ghost blog. If you want to change the default Ghost theme called Casper to a custom one, you can just download and unzip the theme into the /var/www/ghost/content/themes folder and select it via Ghost admin interface, located at https://example.com/ghost.

Need help?

Do you need help setting up this on your own service?
Please contact us and we’ll provide you the best possible quote!