In order to run a hugo webserver you will need a few things in order first. I will mention the requirements; however, I will not be going into detail here.

If you would like me to write a post on these pre-requisites. Please let me know in the comments!


Service Provider
Virtual Private Server Vultr
Domain Name Registrar Epik
DNS Cloudflare
Git GitHub

Domain, VPS, and nginx Configuration

Setup your A Record to point your domain name to your webserver

type name content
A @ vps_ipv4_address

nginx install

Create simple nginx configuration file, /etc/nginx/conf.d/.conf

server {
    server_name  <domain-name> www.<domain-name>;
    root         /var/www/<domain-name>/public;

    index index.html;

    location / {
        try_files $uri $uri/ =404;
        add_header Permissions-Policy interest-cohort=();

    listen       80;
    listen       [::]:80;
    return 404; 

Create a temporary index.html in your website’s root directory, /var/www//public/index.html


Start and Enable nginx

systemctl enable --now nginx.service

If necessary, allow HTTP and HTTPS through firewall

firewall-cmd --add-service=http --permanent
firewall-cmd --add-service=https --permanent
firewall-cmd reload

You should be able to verify access to your webserver over port 80 at this point.

After a successful verification you can continue finishing the configuration.

SSL with

For SSL you can find all Let’s Encrypt client options here

I recommend


Issue cert for your domain --issue -d <domain> -w /var/lib/nginx/<domain>

Install certificate to an nginx directory --install-cert -d <domain> \
--key-file       /etc/nginx/<domain>/key.pem  \
--fullchain-file /etc/nginx/<domain>/cert.pem \
--reloadcmd     "service nginx force-reload"

acme registers a cron job to run daily. This will ensure your certificate is always valid and will restart your webserver.

Create Hugo Website

Hugo Installation

Locate a Hugo theme you’d like to use

I’m using PaperMod

PaperMod installation instructions are here

Once you have followed the installation instructions for your theme you can begin customizing your site.

Again, each theme has their own configuration options; however, I’ll explain the general layout of the hugo folder structure to help you understand where to go.

Ensure you are inside the websites directory.

cd ~/Projects/

tree -L 1 .
├── archetypes
├── config.yml
├── content
├── layouts
├── resources
├── static
└── themes

Most of the configuration will be done in the config.yml file You can see my exact configuration at my repo

languageCode: en-us
title: Title of Website
theme: Theme Name
env: production

    - HTML
    - RSS
    - JSON

    disableHLJS: true
    disableFingerprinting: false
    favicon: "/favicon.ico>"
    favicon16x16: "/favicon-16x16.png"
    favicon32x32: "/favicon-32x32.png"
    apple_touch_icon: "/apple-touch-icon.png"
    safari_pinned_tab: "/safari-pinned-tab.svg"

    - name: "linkedin"
      url: ""
    - name: "github"
      url: ""
    - name: "email"
      url: ""
    - name: "rss"
      url: "/index.xml"

      URL: ""
      Text: "Suggest Changes" # edit text
      appendFilePath: true # to append file path to Edit link

    minMatchCharLength: 3
    keys: ["title", "content", "summary"]

    - identifier: tags
      name: tags
      url: /tags/
      weight: 20
    - identifier: search
      name: search
      url: /search/
      weight: 30

    codeFences: true
    guessSyntax: false
    style: native
    tabWidth: 4

Once you have some settings in place for your site you can create a new post.

hugo new posts/

Using your editor of choice, write up your first post using Markdown.

You can learn about Markdown here Markdown Guide

Once you have some content created run the following command

hugo server

Watching for config changes in /home/elevate/Projects/
Environment: "development"
Serving pages from memory
Running in Fast Render Mode. For full rebuilds on change: hugo server --disableFastRender
Web Server is available at http://localhost:1313/ (bind address

You should now be able to access your hugo website at the location provided.

This is how most development / testing of new content can be done.

Click around and test out your new site.

Deploying Hugo Website using GitHub Actions

Up until now we have just been working locally. You should have a working development environment where you can access your site locally.

To make deployment to your VPS easier and allow you to focus on just creating new content, let’s setup some GitHub Actions to do some work for us!

cd ~/Projects/
git init

Usually at this point I’d run git add .; however, you most likely need to configure the git submodule for your theme.

We want to be able to pull a fresh version from the repo every time we deploy.

You should be able to run the following command without error.

git submodule add <theme clone url>

If you do run into an error let me know in the comments and I’ll help you troubleshoot.

Once the theme repo is properly added as a submodule we can continue.

At this time you should login to GitHub and create a new repo. Grab the clone URL.

git add .
git commit -m "initial upload"
git remote add origin
git push -u origin master

Now to make our github action file, we will need to create a couple directories.

mkdir -p .github/workflows
touch .github/workflows/main.yml

Add the following text to your main.yml file

name: Hugo to VPS

      - master  # Set a branch to deploy

    runs-on: ubuntu-20.04
      - uses: actions/checkout@v2
          submodules: true  # Fetch Hugo themes (true OR recursive)
          fetch-depth: 0    # Fetch all history for .GitInfo and .Lastmod

      - name: Setup Hugo
        uses: peaceiris/actions-hugo@v2
          hugo-version: 'latest'
          # extended: true

      - name: Build
        run: hugo --minify

      - name: Deploy
        uses: appleboy/scp-action@master
          host: ${{ secrets.HOST }}
          port: ${{ secrets.PORT }}
          username: ${{ secrets.USERNAME }}
          key: ${{ secrets.KEY }}
          source: "./public"
          target: "/var/www/"

In my workflow, i’m using scp-action to copy the generated website files to my server.

This means we’ll need to create some secrets on our repo.

In your repository on GitHub create the following secrets Settings > Secrets > New repository secret

  • HOST
  • KEY
  • PORT

I’ll assume you have knowledge on SSH and what the secrets should contain.

I’d encourage you to generate a unique key pair and user for this action.

cd ~/Projects/
git add .
git commit -m "adding github action for automated deployments"
git push

You can now watch the action run on GitHub and monitor your VPS for the website files to be copied over.