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How To Install Dropplets on an Ubuntu 13.04 NGINX VPS

Posted Oct 25, 2013 11.8k views Miscellaneous Nginx PHP Ubuntu


Dropplets is a light-weight blogging platform with a flat file system, which means it doesn't require a database such as PostgreSQL or MongoDB. Dropplet posts are also written in the incredibly user-friendly Markdown language and it includes a theme marketplace where you can purchase different templates for your blog (if you don't feel like designing your own). This guide will help you get Dropplets running on an Ubuntu 13.04 droplet with Nginx installed.


There are a couple things you will need to have accomplished before moving forward with your Dropplets install.

  1. Complete Initial Server Setup
  2. Successfully install and configure NGINX and PHP

Attention To avoid installing extra software, skip "Step Two - Install MySQL"

  1. You will need a basic understanding of linux commands and what they do.

Step One: Install Dropplets on your VPS

Dropplets is relatively easy to install on any server. For this guide, let's assume the root directory is located at:


You can view where your web directory is by checking your NGINX config located in /etc/nginx/sites-available/ folder. It should be defined in the root directive of your NGINX server block configuration.

Now, let's grab a copy of Dropplets!

sudo wget -O blog.zip https://github.com/circa75/dropplets/archive/v1.6.2.6.zip

There should be a copy of Dropplets on your server called blog.zip. Check this via the ls command.

Next, let's unzip it and move it to the proper root directory:

sudo unzip blog.zip

cp -R dropplets-* /var/www/public/

Lastly, we need to give NGINX ownership of the files. In this case, our NGINX user is www-data. However, you might have changed yours in a previous tutorial. Please use the applicable user.

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/public/

sudo chmod 755 /var/www

Great! Now navigate to your root directory in your browser (http://example.com). The Dropplets install page should appear.

Dropplets initial config

Simply input a password and pat yourself on the back. Dropplets is ready to go! You should see the main blog page with the welcome blog post.

Dropplets initial config

To access the admin area, click the icon in the upper left corner and enter your password.

Step Two: Writing a Blog Post

So now you want to write your first blog post. Or perhaps even migrate your existing posts over to your new shiny install of Dropplets. There are two methods to accomplish this:

Option A is to write your posts on your desktop in Markdown format and upload them through the admin area.

Option B is to write the posts using your favorite terminal text editor.

We must format our posts correctly so that Dropplets can read them. Each post has a special header markup that Dropplet reads. It looks like this:

# Your Post Title
- Post Author Name (e.g. "Dropplets")
- Post Author Twitter Handle (e.g. "dropplets")
- Publish Date in YYYY/MM/DD Format (e.g. "2013/04/28")
- Post Category (e.g. "Random Thoughts")
- Post Status (e.g. "published" or "draft")

Your post text starts here.

Once you finish writing your post, simply save it in .md format as the url name where you'd like to find it. For example:


Will resolve as such when uploaded:


To make the post live on your website, simply upload through the admin area. If you'd like to write the posts live on your server through the terminal, rather than creating the file on your desktop, simply log into your droplet and nano (or whatever editor you use) a file:

sudo nano /var/www/public/posts/my-first-post.md

If you've set the post status to published, the post should be live on your website! Congrats!

Step Three: Fix the NGINX Issue

Now access http://example.com/my-first-post. You should be confused because your whole post isn't showing. This is because NGINX doesn't know how to display your markdown files correctly.

Fear not. Here is a simple fix that is tweaked in your NGINX server block. Simply open your server block configuration file.

NOTE: This is the file where you found your root directory settings earlier. In this example, we are referring to the default config that comes installed with NGINX.

sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/default

Now look for the line that reads:

location / {
    try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php;

Change this line to:

location / {
    try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php?filename=$uri;

Save and close the file and restart NGINX:

sudo service nginx restart

If NGINX restarts okay, the full post should now be displayed at http://example.com/my-first-post

Step Four: Cleanup

Travel to the directory in which you downloaded blog.zip and remove our garbage.

sudo rm -r blog.zip dropplets-

Congratulations, you've completed a basic configuration of Dropplets on your VPS and fixed an NGINX issue. Now get blogging!

Submitted by: Alex Kavon


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