Installing Nikola on Ubuntu

Nikola is a static site and blog generator written in Python that I’ve been using for a good while now. This blog post describes how to install Nikola on Ubuntu 14.04 or newer. Now, this may look like a long winded way to install Nikola, given that .deb package exist, but in my opinion it is the correct way to install Nikola on Ubuntu.

Installing Python

First you’ll need Python.

sudo apt-get install cython3 libpython3.4 python3.4 python3.4-dev python3.4-minimal

Now install the Python “package” management utilities.

sudo apt-get install python-setuptools python-virtualenv python-pip virtualenvwrapper

The Snakepit

Create a “Snakepit” directory for storing all the virtualenvs.

  mkdir ~/Snakepit

Create a virtualenv for Nikola

The following will create a new virtualenv called nikola based on Python 3.4.

virtualenv -p /usr/bin/python3.4 ~/Snakepit/nikola-773

Working on a virtualenv

To activate the virtualenv do the following.

source ~/Snakepit/nikola-773/bin/activate

Your shell prompt will change while a virtualenv is being worked on to indicate which virtualenv is currently active.

While working on a virtualenv you can pip install what you need or manually install any Python libraries safe in the knowledge you will not adversely damage any other virtualenvs or the global packages in the process. Very useful for developing a new branch which may have different library requirements than the master/head.

When you are finished working in a virtualenv you can deactivate it by simply executing deactivate.

Install Nikola requirements

Nikola requires some additional packages.

sudo apt-get install liblcms2-dev libfreetype6-dev libjpeg8-dev \
libopenjp2-7-dev libtiff5-dev libwebp-dev libxslt1-dev libxml2-dev \
libyaml-dev libzmq-dev zlib1g-dev

Some of the content optimisation filters require additional packages.

sudo apt-get install closure-compiler jpegoptim optipng yui-compressor

Install Tidy 5. (optional)

sudo apt-get -y remove libtidy-0.99-0 tidy
wget http://binaries.html-tidy.org/binaries/tidy-5.1.14/tidy-5.1.14-64bit.deb -O /tmp/tidy5.deb
sudo dpkg -i /tmp/tidy5.deb
sudo ln -s /usr/bin/tidy /usr/local/bin/tidy5
rm /tmp/tidy5.deb

What are these requirements for?

The following are required to build pillow, the Python imaging library.

  • liblcms2-dev
  • libfreetype6-dev
  • libjpeg8-dev
  • libopenjp2-7-dev
  • libtiff5-dev
  • libwebp-dev
  • zlib1g-dev

The following are required to build lxml, a Python XML library.

  • libxml2-dev
  • libxslt1-dev

The following are required to build python-coveralls.

  • libyaml-dev

The following are required to build pyzmq.

  • libzmq-dev

Install Nikola

First install Cython, which will ensure some of the packages required by Nikola use all the available optimisations.

pip install --upgrade Cython

Install all of Nikola.

pip install --upgrade "Nikola[extras,tests]"

Create a site

After installing Nikola, you should create a site. A site is a collection of all assets needed to render your website, including configuration, posts, pages, images, and all other files and customizations.

To create a site, you need to run:

nikola init <directory_name>

A wizard will guide your initial setup The --demo option can be used to populate your site with some example content. If you do not want the wizard, use the --quiet argument.

Nikola is now installed and and initial site is setup. nikola help and the Nikola Handbook will assist you from here.

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