October 21, 2013

Beginner

How To Serve Multiple Ghost Blogs on One VPS Using Nginx Server Blocks

Tagged In: Nginx, Ubuntu, Node.Js, Ghost

Introduction


Ghost is a great new blogging platform that simplifies the process of getting a blog up and running. It boasts a clean interface and an easy-to-use interface.

In this article, we will discuss a method of using one VPS to host multiple blogs. We will be configuring two domain names that will resolve to different instances of Ghost being hosted on the same system.

Prerequisites


This guide assumes that you are starting on a fresh droplet that was configured with the one-click Ghost image. For instructions on how to spin up a Ghost blog on DigitalOcean, click here.

This also assumes that you have two separate domain names that you will be using for each of your blogs. They both should be pointed at your VPS instance that you created for your Ghost blog. To learn how to configure your domain names correctly, click here.

Finally, we assume that you are logged into your Ghost droplet as root.

Stop Running Services


Before we begin, we should stop the Ghost service to avoid problems down the line:

service ghost stop

This will ensure that we aren't moving files that are opened by the Ghost process.

We want to do the same with nginx, just to be safe:

service nginx stop

Modify the Nginx Configuration


The first thing we need to do is adjust the nginx configuration. At the moment, nginx (our web server) is configured to pass all requests to a single location. We need to create different paths depending on what site our visitors are trying to reach.

Begin by navigating to the nginx directory where Ghost is configured. We will rename the Ghost configuration file to describe our first domain, and then copy it to a file that represents our second domain. These names are only for our reference, so you can change them as you'd like:

cd /etc/nginx/conf.d
mv default.conf firstsite.conf
cp firstsite.conf secondsite.conf

Open the first site's configuration with the editor of your choice:

nano firstsite.conf

Change the server_name parameter to match your first site's domain name. It is important to get this part right, because it is the only way that nginx will know which Ghost instance to pass control to.

server_name firstsite.com

Save and close the file.

Next, we need to perform a similar operation on our second site configuration. Open it with your text editor:

nano secondsite.conf

We need to change the server_name parameter again to match our second site's domain name. Again, make sure this is accurate:

server_name secondsite.com

We also need to change the port that should be used for our second site. Right now, this configuration would send all of the traffic to the same node.js instance, instead of splitting it between the two sites.

Change the proxy_pass parameter. We need to change the port number at the end to another number. It can be any port number that isn't being used by another process.

proxy_pass http://localhost:2777

Save and close the file.

Restart nginx by typing:

service nginx restart

Change the Ghost Configuration


Now, we need to mirror our changes in the Ghost configuration files. Go to the web root directory:

cd /var/www

We need to make a directory for each of our Ghost sites:

mkdir firstsite.com
mkdir secondsite.com

Now, we need to move the Ghost directory into each of the new folders:

cp -r ghost firstsite.com
mv ghost secondsite.com

Now, we can open the first site's Ghost configuration:

nano /var/www/firstsite.com/ghost/config.js

Find the production section by searching for the string production: {. Change the url parameter to match the name of your first site:

. . .
production: {
    url: 'http://firstsite.com'
. . .

Save and close the file.

Next, open the matching file for the second site:

nano /var/www/secondsite.com/ghost/config.js

Again, find the production: { section. Change the url parameter to match the second site's domain:

. . .
production: {
    url: 'http://secondsite.com'
. . .

Next, scroll down a bit to the server: { section of the production block. Change the port parameter to match the number you selected for the proxy port in the second site's nginx configuration:

port: '2777'

Save and close the file.

Create Upstart Scripts


The easiest way to manage separate Ghost installations is through Upstart scripts. This will allow you to start, stop, restart, and check the status of each site individually.

Currently, there is a System V init script located at /etc/init.d/ghost. If you are following this guide, delete the old System V script. This will help avoid confusion and can prevent the service starting with the wrong settings:

rm /etc/init.d/ghost

We will be creating a new configuration for each site. We will be using an alternative to System V called Upstart, because it has simpler syntax.

Change to the directory where Upstart keeps its scripts:

cd /etc/init

Create a file for your first site:

nano ghost-firstsite.conf

Inside, we will place the following code. Change the values in red to match your first site's configuration:

# ghost-firstsite

start on startup

script
    cd /var/www/firstsite.com/ghost
    npm start --production
end script

Save and close the file.

We will create the second site's configuration file by copying the one we just created:

cp ghost-firstsite.conf ghost-secondsite.conf

Open the new file and adjust the values in red to match the second site:

# ghost-secondsite

start on startup

script
    cd /var/www/secondsite.com/ghost
    npm start --production
end script

Save and close the file.

Now, you can bring each site online by typing:

service ghost-firstsite start
service ghost-secondsite start

If you visit each of your domains, you should see the Ghost blogging landing page.

Ghost landing page

Create your user account and log in by visiting:

firstsite.com/ghost/signup

Add different content to each site to verify that they are truly separate.

Ghost first site

Ghost second site

Conclusion


You should now have two separate blogs being served from a single droplet. You can expand this technique to serve additional sites, as your resources permit.

Check out our other articles to learn how to change themes and settings, how to configure email and test configuration changes, and how to manage content.

By Justin Ellingwood

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30 Comments

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  • Gravatar alex 6 months

    It was all good till Restart nginx by typing: service nginx restart Below is what I get as an error Restarting nginx: nginx: [emerg] could not build the server_names_hash, you should increase server_names_hash_bucket_size: 32 nginx: configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf test failed

  • Gravatar alex 6 months

    I fixed it, I had to increas it from nginx.conf

  • Gravatar accounts 6 months

    For me not work. This return me a 502 error and I´ve followed all as here

  • Gravatar Aswini Kumar Baruwa 6 months

    Followed every step in detailed. First site worked perfectly but when I visit second site, I get 502 error.

  • Gravatar Aswini Kumar Baruwa 6 months

    It worked for me now. I guess something was wrong with my Upstart configuration. Nevertheless,I moved into the /var/www/secondsite/ghost and npm start ! And the second site worked on a different port we mentioned in the second site nginx conf file. Thanks for the tutorial.

  • Gravatar accounts 6 months

    Thanks @springhive for the aclaration!! Now worked!!

  • Gravatar mike 6 months

    Will this work with subdomains as well? For example: ghost1.mydomain.com ghost2.mydomain.com

  • Gravatar Kamal Nasser 6 months

    @mike: Yes, it will work just fine.

  • Gravatar mike 6 months

    Great, thanks Kamal.

  • Gravatar ghostingdotio 5 months

    To restart Ghost if you follow this tutorial: service ghost-firstsite restart service ghost-secondsite restart

  • Gravatar cody 5 months

    great read!

  • Gravatar cody 5 months

    so after setting it up my domains seem to always redirect to /ghost/signin i can't figure out why...

  • Gravatar cody 5 months

    got it all working except www.seconddomain.com is redirecting to www.firstdomain.com BUT seconddomain.com without "www" goes to where it is supposed to go. Any tips?

  • Gravatar Kamal Nasser 5 months

    @cody: Edit seconddomain.com's nginx config and set server_name to the following:

    server_name seconddomain.com www.seconddomain.com

  • Gravatar Nick S 4 months

    I have followed the tutorial, but my ghost services don't start - when I type in service ghost -domain start, ssh outputs: `stop: Unknown instance: ghost-domain stop/waiting `

  • Gravatar Nick S 4 months

    P.S. When I examined the logs of the service that I created, that's what showed up - "/proc/self/fd/9: 2: cd: can't cd to /var/www/nick-s.se/ghost". Why can't the script cd to my ghost folder?

  • Gravatar Kamal Nasser 4 months

    @Nick: Does that directory exist? Does the user `ghost` have access to it?

  • Gravatar whatspo 4 months

    What is the process for when you want to add 'thirdsite.com' and 'fourthsite.com' later on-- down the road? Add more server blocks, then follow steps above?

  • Gravatar Kamal Nasser 4 months

    @whatspo: Correct.

  • Gravatar whatspo 4 months

    sorry I have another question Kamal, Im trying to troubleshoot as I haven't been able to get firstsite.com and secondsite.com to work as two different blogs. They are acting as one. Meaning, when I adjust content on one, the other reflects the changes. And vice versa. So I'm thinking I might be skipping some step(s) that I don't know about. When I go to set up the configurations and everything listed in the tutorial above, do I need to have directories or folders already set up for each of the sites?

  • Gravatar whatspo 4 months

    the advice I got from DO support was that it would all be going on ONE server block, so its getting a little confusing now...

  • Gravatar whatspo 4 months

    I was finally able to get through this! All seems to be working now. Thank you for the help anyways.

  • Gravatar mario323qp about 1 month

    For those looking to have multiple users over the same app: http://labs.djenie.com/hacking-ghost-hunting-the-evil-spirit/ Cheers!

  • Gravatar Justin Scott about 1 month

    I've went through the tutorial twice and I still get this error "Restarting nginx: nginx: [emerg] could not build the server_names_hash, you should increase server_names_hash_bucket_size: 32 nginx: configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf test failed " I went into the /etc/nginx/nginx.conf file and increased the size, but the server still will not start?

  • Gravatar deandrecrayton 28 days

    Can you do this with the same domain, just different beginnings, like www.domain.com and test.domain.com?

  • Gravatar Kamal Nasser 19 days

    @deandrecrayton: Yes. Just replace firstsite.com with domain.com and secondsite.com with test.domain.com.

  • Gravatar WW2Net 4 days

    I take it this is out of date now, the line proxy_pass http://localhost:2777 does not exist in the nginx conf file.

  • Gravatar Andrew SB 2 days

    @WW2Net: This tutorial assumes that you are using the DigitalOcean Ghost application as your starting point. That line exists there. See this article to get up and running: https://www.digitalocean.com/community/articles/how-to-use-the-digitalocean-ghost-application

  • Gravatar tcervo 1 day

    Ok, I had a single site up and running using the DigitalOcean Ghost application, then followed this tutorial to move the site and set up a second site. Now, though, when I try to access the first site, I get an error 500: 500 SQLITE_CANTOPEN: unable to open database file, sql: select "posts".* from "posts" where "page" = ? and "status" = ? order by "status" collate nocase ASC, "published_at" collate nocase DESC, "updated_at" collate nocase DESC limit 7 offset 0, bindings: false,published

  • Gravatar tcervo 1 day

    Ok, first site is working. Power cycled the droplet, and now is working.

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