It all started innocuously enough with this post from Alex Shroeder
What about you?
I spontaneously replied.
This reminded me that since, I had recently migrated my desktop from
Arch Linux to Fedora 29, I needed to reinstall Nikola and check
that the blog I never use still could be built successfully.
Oh - how exciting. Nikola has recently released version 8.0.1 and I was on the previous version - 7.8.15. I quickly
created a Python 3 virtual environment and installed Nikola.
I generated my site as normal but encountered an error. One post
failed to be processed correctly. This was strange so I created
another virtual environment and tried using the tried and trusted
Nikola 7.8.15 which I knew worked. Definitely.
Only, inevitably, Nikola 7.8.15 also failed. Oh well, a lot has
changed since I last posted to my blog way back in January 2017. The
version of Emacs has changed, the version of orgmode has changed. I
examined the blog entry that was causing a problem. It was a fairly
standard text article with a single source code block. As the source
block was ‘BASIC’, the language wasn’t explicitly specified. This
isn’t a problem in orgmode normally but the Nikola orgmode plugin got
confused so I just pretended the code snippet was ‘C’ and everything
As I was researching the issue, I noticed that another static site
generator, Hugo, had also added native orgmode support over a
year ago. I had previously experimented with Hugo and found it was
incredibly fast to generate my site - even when I added in my entire
blog output (978 posts).
Clearly, there was no point whatsoever in experimenting with the Hugo
orgmode support for a blog I never used any more. So I went ahead and
did so anyway and found the Hugo orgmode support was pretty good. The
orgmode headers were supported whereas Nikola used a comment section
for the front matter.
Actually, there was a reason for this resurrected interest in
maintaining a blog. After Google decided to pull the plug on Google
Plus, I had ditched that platform in a fit of pique and experimented
with Diaspora for longer form articles and Mastodon for
The problem with Diaspora is that it doesn’t currently federate with
the ActivityPub protocol (which includes Mastodon sites) and the other
problem is that, just like Google, it could disappear.
A Mastodon/Pleroma instance with no character limit might solve the
problem but, to be honest, I prefer to read longer articles on a blog.
So I think there is still a place for a self-hosted blog, complete
with an RSS feed.
What I have learned however is that blog migrations are still
problematic and time-consuming. Even converting from a Markdown blog
to another Markdown blog, the differences in the meta-data
(categories, tags), inevitably no-one has though to standardise on a
single, universal timestamp format and images (no matter where you
locate them) are always a problem so there will always be some sort of
migration effort required.
To guard against this, I have re-converted from orgmode to Markdown
and my front-matter now consists solely of:-
title: "Another blog migration"
No categories, no tags, no author, no description, no keywords, no
slugs, no comments.