Hosting a blog

Background

I made the decision to host my own blog site.  I thought it would be a great way to keep track of some of the technical projects I have done and will do in my personal life.  It would also be a good method to organize some of my thoughts.  It’s my first foray into the world of blogging, so I’ll have to see how it evolves.

Once I made the decision to blog the next logical question was how.

  • Custom blog hosted on my own webserver?
  • Blog hosted on SharePoint / Office 365?
  • Blog hosted on WordPress or similar site?

SharePoint / Office 365 Blog

I had opened an Office 365 Business Premium account in order to experiment with some of the new features that could be found in Office 365.  I had used blogs in SharePoint previously and as its hosted in the cloud I thought it would be perfect to run my blog on.  I set the blog up and ran into my first problem.

No custom domain support for SharePoint

I wanted to host my SharePoint blog at blog.peterwurst.com. Unfortunately Microsoft disabled the ability to do this back in 2015.  You can see this article from Microsoft: Use a custom domain name to rename your Office 365 Small Business public website.

This issue could be easily overcome and I would just host my blog at http://peterwurst.sharepoint.com/sites/blog and redirect blog.peterwurst.com to this site.

No anonymous access to SharePoint sites

This was the nail in the coffin for my blog being on SharePoint.  You will find lots of information online for getting anonymous access to work for a SharePoint 2013 site, but after a lot of research and a call into Microsoft support it appears that this feature was also disabled at the same time they stopped supporting public websites in 2015.  If you created your Office365 account prior to 2015 you may still be able to take advantage of these features.  You can find some information at the following sites.

I could still have opened up my blog to any person with a Microsoft account, either Office 365 or personal, but that would require users to login prior to viewing the site.

Custom or OpenSource solution on Linux

I briefly looked for open source blogging solutions that would run on Linux / Apache but did not see any obvious contenders.  I was also trying to stay away from an additional package that I would need to maintain / upgrade.  While I have my own Linux Web Server I decided very quickly not to opt for this solution.

WordPress

I had heard of WordPress and seen a number of WordPress powered / hosted blogs.  I did not spend a lot of time researching other alternatives, although I recognize that they exist.  WordPress offered what SharePoint / Office365 didn’t, a way to host a blog that was available to the entire internet with anonymous access.  It also doesn’t require any of my time to maintain.

Hosting Revisited

After using WordPress for a couple weeks I grew frustrated with some of the constraints of using a cloud hosted solution.  After some brief research I realized that WordPress could be easily installed on a Amazon EC2 instance and I opted to do so.

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