Learn How To Deploy Ghost on Ubuntu 16.04

September 25, 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 a secure Ghost blog on an Ubuntu 16.04 VPS using Let’s Encrypt, the latest LTS version Node.js, the latest mainline branch of Nginx, and latest version of Ghost.

Let’s Encrypt

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

We are going to use Let’s Encrypt to obtain TLS certificates for our Ghost blog. Don’t forget to replace all instances of example.com with your domain name.

  1. Update system:

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

    apt install -y zip build-essential
  3. Install Let’s Encrypt client:

    apt install -y letsencrypt
  4. Check version:

    letsencrypt --version
    # letsencrypt 0.4.1
  5. Obtain certificate

    letsencrypt 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 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
    # v4.6.2
    # 2.15.11

Install Nginx

  1. Download and install Nginx:

    wget https://nginx.org/keys/nginx_signing.key && apt-key add nginx_signing.key
    rm nginx_signing.key
    printf "deb https://nginx.org/packages/mainline/ubuntu/ xenial nginx ndeb-src https://nginx.org/packages/mainline/ubuntu/ xenial nginx n" >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/nginx.list
    apt update && apt install nginx -y
  2. Check Nginx version:

    nginx -v
    # nginx version: nginx/1.11.5
  3. Start Nginx process:

    service nginx start
  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. Restart Nginx:

    service nginx restart

Install Ghost

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

  1. Make 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 url property of production object inside of 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',
  7. Save config.js file and exit.

  8. Start Ghost:

    npm start --production

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

Run Ghost persistently

If you close your terminal session with 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 our blog up 24/7.

  1. Switch to ghost user if you are not:

    su - ghost
  2. Go to 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?

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