How I set up this blog

Posted by Cayle Sharrock on April 1, 2015


  • Pick a theme from Jekyll themes
  • I went with the Clean Blog theme.
    • Now you can clone the code from GitHub, but I elected to just download the zip file and extract it to my repository folder. The code contains a full working Jekyll site that is based on Bootstrap and so is responsive.


The first thing to do is modify the settings in _config.yml. If you’re using github-pages, you will need to set the base_url setting to the project name.

When running the blog locally from jekyll, remember to override base_url from the command line.

You also need to run npm install --dev to enable the Grunt tasks that have kindly been set up for you.

The less task didn’t work with my version of grunt-less-contrib. Removing the cleancss: true option does the trick (presumably there’s a plugin I’m missing somewhere).


The next thing to do is tweak the default settings of the Clean Blog theme:


  • Replace the stock images for the About and Home pages in img/about-bg.jpg and img/home-bg.jpg. These images are 1900 x 492. Use Gimp to create replacements and use a high compression factor to keep the image sizes small (~40kB).

Edit: The background pictures are actually cropped to 412 pixels high.

Fonts and aesthetics

The default fonts look fine, but I want to use my company font for headings. The sans-serif font for the posts is fine.

Don’t edit the clean-blog.css file. It’s gets overwritten

Edit the less files in the less folder. And remember to run grunt less after any changes

In mixins.less I changed the following:

The default sans-serif font

 .sans-serif () {
 	font-family: Raleway, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;
 .brand-font() {
     font-family: Syncopate, Raleway, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;

The nice notes CSS mixin is also added:

.box-shadow(@x: 0; @y: 0; @blur: 1px; @color: #0001) {
    -webkit-box-shadow: @arguments;
    -moz-box-shadow: @arguments;
    box-shadow: @arguments;

In clean-blog.less - h1 font uses the brand-font mixin. The default weight is also 400, rather than 800. - body font family is serif - .intro-header .post-heading .meta should be sans-serif mixin call.

In _includes/head.html I changed the fonts that are loaded to Syncopate and Raleway.


I really like the Notes CSS on the Jekyll website. Cloning this behavior was a simple as setting up the .less file and @importing it into the clean-blog.less file.

However, jekyll doesn’t import the .less files automatically, like it does with Sass, so you have to run grunt less to incorporate any changes to the CSS.

The Fonts Awesome file is a set of icons in pure css. To speed things up, I downloaded a local copy into the CSS folder and updated head.html accordingly.


I replaced the default about.html file with I prefer using markdown and Jekyll will automatically generate HTML from it.

Setting up SSH authentication

Typing in your username/password each time you push is a pain. Using SSH authentication, you can establish a trust connection between your computer and GitHub, so that this doesn’t have to happen every time.

Create SSH keys

If you don’t already have SSH keys, follow the steps here to set them up.

Once your public key is added to GitHub, you still need to tell git to use the keys instead of your password for authentication. This is done as follows:

  1. Get the remote repository name with git remote -v

     origin (fetch)
     origin (push)
  2. Change this to use ssh keys with the following: git remote set-url origin

Done! You can check that the remote url has indeed changed by typing git remote -v again.