How to contribute to an existing Octopress blog

You managed to setup your own Octopress blog? Great! After a while you switch to another PC or your colleague wants to contribute an article and nothing worked as easy as I expected.

There are probably hundreds of blog posts that describe how to setup Octopress with Github hosting, but how often do you start a blog from scratch? Setting up Octopress was fun, starting with an existing setup was frustration.

And it was rather diffuclt to find useful information to solve the problems, so while this post is mainly for the Georepublic citizens to be able to contribute articles to this blog, it might be also helpful for others.

First it's necessary to clone the existing Github repository, that contains the blog, and switch to the source branch:

git clone
git checkout source

Issue 1: Ruby versions

If you're a Ruby developer you probably got used to this, but to have the correct version installed is a never ending story. Fortunately with Ubuntu 12.10 you can now install the correct version of Ruby with sudo apt-get install ruby1.9.3 and the following steps should work:

ruby --version  # Should report Ruby 1.9.3
sudo gem install bundler
bundle install

If you're using MacOS or have multiple versions of Ruby installed, there are lots of articles out there to manage the mess.

If you're lucky you can now already run rake generate or rake preview.

Issue 2: Japanese characters in URL's

While it worked on Ubuntu, MacOS was throwing errors and rake generate refused to do its job. This was the first big showstopper for Georepublic Mac users. Finding the reason for the error was rather difficult, the solution was to encode URL's with Japanese characters in URL segments:

@@ -18,12 +18,12 @@ footer: true

 ## 2012/11/07~ FOSS4G 2012 Osaka & Kansai Open Forum

-> Website: <イベント/foss4g2012osaka/>
+> Website: <>

 ## 2012/11/03~ FOSS4G 2012 Tokyo

-> Website: <イベント/foss4g2012tokyo/>
+> Website: <>

 ## 2012/10/05 ジオメディアサミット神戸

Not a big win for readability, but this solved the issue.

Issue 3: Rsync failed with wrong configuration

I didn't remember that I had ever made any settings for rsysnc, but suddenly rake deploy didn't work anymore and returned a strange error:

## Deploying website via Rsync
ssh: connect to host port 22: Connection refused
rsync: connection unexpectedly closed (0 bytes received so far) [sender]
rsync error: unexplained error (code 255) at /SourceCache/rsync/rsync-42/rsync/io.c(452) [sender=2.6.9]

The reason: an Octopress update had modified the Rakefile and silently changed the default deployment method:

@@ -7,8 +7,8 @@ require "stringex"
 ssh_user       = ""
 ssh_port       = "22"
 document_root  = "~/"
-rsync_delete   = true
-deploy_default = "push"
+rsync_delete   = false
+deploy_default = "rsync"

 # This will be configured for you when you run config_deploy
 deploy_branch  = "master"

Issue 4: nothing to commit

After that everything seemed to work and the preview of a new article looked good. But then after rake deploy nothing changed:

  fatal: no files added

  ## Commiting: Site updated at 2012-11-27 05:42:30 UTC
  # On branch source
  nothing to commit (working directory clean)

  ## Pushing generated _deploy website
  Everything up-to-date

  ## Github Pages deploy complete
  cd -

Changes in _deploy aren't synchronized with the Github repository. The console log is rather confusing, but the following steps fixed it:

  # If the _deploy directory exists already, remove it first
  rm -Rf _deploy

  # Then create a new one and configure it as the master branch
  mkdir _deploy
  cd _deploy
  git init
  git remote add origin
  git pull origin master
  cd ..

If this article appears now on the blog, it finally worked!


All commands to contribute to Georepublic Times:

git clone
git checkout source

sudo gem install bundler
bundle install

mkdir _deploy && cd _deploy
git init
git remote add origin
git pull origin master
cd ..