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How To Use DigitalOcean's DNS For Custom GitHub URLs

PostedApril 30, 2014 15k views DNS Git


This tutorial shows how to setup a DNS redirection from your own custom domain (e.g. http://githubtest.teamerlich.org/) to point to your GitHub-hosted static website (e.g. http://agordon.github.io/custom_dns_test) using DigitalOcean's DNS control panel.

Github Pages enable every project hosted on GitHub to have a dedicated static website for the program. Setting up a static website is explained in detail on the their website (and even include an automatic template generator to help one setup a new website).

The default URL for such a website is based on the user's name and the project's name. For example, if the GitHub username is agordon and the project's name is custom_dns_test, the Github repository URL will be https://github.com/agordon/custom_dns_test and the GitHub-Pages static website will be http://agordon.github.io/custom_dns_test/.

Following the directions in this tutorial, you will setup a custom domain name (e.g. http://githubtest.teamerlich.org/) which will be an autmatic alias to http://agordon.github.io/custom_dns_test/ - that is, users visiting the custom URL will see the content of http://agordon.github.io/custom_dns_test/ (stored on and served by GitHub's servers) but the URL will be your custom one.

This article follows GitHub's Custom Domain with Github Pages tutorial, adapted for DigitanOcean's DNS control panel.


This tutorial assumes you have the followings:

  1. A registered domain name (e.g. teamerlich.org) at a domain registrar ( such as godaddy.com ).

  2. Proper DNS configuration in DigitalOcean's nameservers.

    See article for basic domain name with DigitalOcean and Sub-domains in DigitalOcean.

  3. A user on GitHub.

    Example: If your GitHub user is agordon your Github page will be https://github.com/agordon/.

  4. A Github project which you own (and can modify).

    Example: if your GitHub project is custom_dns_test, your project's GitHub repository will be https://github.com/agordon/custom_dns_test.

  5. In said project, a GitHub-Pages setup using a branch named gh-pages. If you have not yet created a GitHub pages brunch, follow the instruction at https://pages.github.com/ (which also include an automatic website generator with beautiful templates).

Example: If your GitHub project is custom_dns_test, your project's GitHub Pages branch repository will be https://github.com/agordon/custom_dns_test/tree/gh-pages.

Step 1 - Decide On A Subdomain Name.

The subdomain name should be alpha-numeric. You could always change the domain name later, by repeating steps 2 & 3 with the new name.

Step 2 - Add "CNAME" File To Your GitHub Project

In your GitHub project's gh-pages branch, create (or update) a file called CNAME. The file should contain a single line with the full domain name (e.g. githubtest.teamerlich.org). The name must match the domain name you'll setup in step 3.

Use the following commands on your local workstation to add the CNAME file. Replace the example with your own:

git pull origin
git checkout gh-pages
echo "githubtest.teamerlich.org" > CNAME
git add CNAME
git commit -m "Added CNAME for GitHub Pages"
git push

The final result should look like the following project (note the CNAME file): https://github.com/agordon/custom_dns_test/tree/gh-pages.

After uploading a new CNAME file to github, it can take up to ten minutes for GitHub servers to be updated.

Step 3 - Add DNS Record In DigitalOcean's DNS Control Panel

In your DigitalOcean Control Panel, select Networking and then click on your domain. We need to add a new record that looks like this:

Fill in the following items:

  1. Choose CNAME as the new DNS record
  2. Enter the HOSTNAME (without a dot). The name must match the content of the CNAME file in your GitHub repository from step 2
  3. Enter the domain for your GitHub pages username in the IS AN ALIAS OF field (e.g. if your GitHub user is agordon, your GitHub-Pages server will be agordon.github.io). NOTE: the period after "io" is required
  4. Click Create Record to add the new record

Step 4 - Wait For DigitalOcean's Server To Update

It may take several minutes for the DNS information to be updated in DigitalOcean's DNS.

After the zone information is updated, it can still take several hours until the change is updated in other DNS servers (e.g. your ISP's DNS server).

Examples Summary

Further information

Submitted by: Assaf Gordon


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