GitHub Pages + Jekyll, a poor choice

Published 2024-05-17 on Matthew's Blog

Some of you will say that using GitHub in the first place is a poor choice, and you’d be correct.

GitHub, and in fact Jekyll, would like you to believe that GitHub is a perfectly fine place for hosting your Jekyll site, and it is, provided you want to do absolutely nothing fancy. As, for reasons I’m not sure GitHub has publicized, they lock down what plugins you can use, and if you’re not using an approved plugin, you’re SOL.

If you don’t, you don’t get to use GitHub Actions to build and publish your site, so you probably couldn’t make small adjustments in a web editor to then become live.

I believe all of the above is true regardless of whether you’re deploying to GitHub Pages. For example, if you just used GH Actins to build your site to be deployed on your own server, you’re subject to all the same GH Actions Jekyll restrictions.

I’ve been working on adding a rudimentary tag system to this site, but I keep running into the brick wall that is GitHub.

In an effort to minimize my dependency on potentially unapproved plugins, I thought writing my own to be included in my local _plugins/ directory would be safe, and damn, was I wrong.

From what I can tell, GitHub executes the custom plugin code just fine, but then, something, I haven’t found what yet, but something is preventing the plugin-generated-files to becoming part of the _site/ build.

I’ve reached out to GitHub and the jekyll community for support, but I’m not holding my breath.


What are some alternatives? I could not have tags on this site and it would be business as usual as we have been for the last, 12 years. I could set up a git remote on a server I own and set up some hooks to deploy any changes. I could give sourcehut a try. I could rewrite the site in Next.JS to be hosted by Vercel.

That last one seems like the nuclear option, though it could provide some interesting ways to create in the future. The thing I am striving to avoid is enshittification, because every single other platform is doing more than enough of that to go around. This site doesn’t need any JavaScript to work, but if I can generate static HTML with NextJS + Vercel, then, you wouldn’t really know the difference.

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                    Jorgensen - author avatar

Hi there!

I'm a systems administrator & engineer, front-end and back-end developer, and an IT guru in St. Paul, MN. It’s nice to meet you.