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Getting started with the Perl version of tumblelog on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

March 28, 2020

Earlier this week I was contacted by Paul N. Pace who had problems installing the Perl version of tumblelog on his Mint 19 installation which according to his email is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. Because I am sure there are more people interested in this I decided to write a how to on the installation on Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver and how to get started with tumblelog.

Installing Sass

Sass (Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets) is used to generate the style sheet (CSS) used by the blog. You can install the Ruby implementation of Sass on Ubuntu 18.04 as follows:

sudo apt install -y ruby-sass

When finished if you enter sass --version it should report:

Sass 3.4.23 (Selective Steve)

or a more recent version.

Installing the CommonMark library

The Perl version of tumblelog requires the CommonMark Perl module to be installed. This module relies on a C library so we have to install that one first. Since the most recent version of this library is available as a git repository let's install git as follows:

sudo apt install -y git

Clone the CommonMark parsing and rendering library as follows:

git clone

In order to build the library successfully cmake, g++, and python are required, so we install those packages as follows:

apt install -y cmake g++ python

Change into the cmark directory using cd cmark and issue the following commands:

make test
sudo make install

After this, when you issue the command cmark --version it should report

cmark 0.29.0 - CommonMark converter
(C) 2014-2016 John MacFarlane

or a more recent version.

Next, we make the shared library available to the system so the Perl build process in the next step can find it:

sudo ldconfig

Move out of the cmark directory and delete it as follows:

cd ..
rm -rf cmark

Installing the CommonMark Perl module

I installed the CommonMark library for Perl using cpanm, which can be installed as follows:

sudo apt install -y cpanminus

Build and install the CommonMark Perl module as follows:

sudo cpanm CommonMark

Installing the JSON::XS Perl module

The Perl version of tumblelog requires the JSON::XS module to be present. This module can be installed as follows:

sudo apt install -y libjson-xs-perl

Downloading tumblelog

The easiest way to download tumblelog is to use git clone:

git clone

Generating the test pages

In this step the test pages are generated in order to verify that all the requirements have been met.

Change into the just created tumblelog directory:

cd tumblelog

First, create a directory to store the generated files:

mkdir htdocs

Next, generate the CSS file from one of the available styles. For example october.scss:

sass --sourcemap=none -t compressed styles/october.scss htdocs/october.css

Examples of all available styles are stored in the screenshots directory.

Next, generate the blog as follows:

perl  --template-filename tumblelog.html --output-dir htdocs/ \
     --author 'Test' --name 'Test Blog' --description 'This is a test'    \
     --blog-url '' --css october.css

Make sure you press return immediately after each backslash. The command should report a list of files it has created.

The arguments to are as follows:

You can use a Python one-liner to start a web server inside the htdocs directory and see the generated files in a web browser as follows:

cd htdocs
python3 -m http.server

Now open the address http://localhost:8000/ in your web browser and the index page of the test blog should show up. You can quit the Python web server by pressing Ctrl+C inside the terminal.

Test blog opened inside the Firefox browser
Test blog opened inside the Firefox browser on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

Where to go from here

On my computer I have a separate directory for my blog Plurrrr. I recommend to do the same and not modify any of the files that belong to tumblelog directly. The reason for this is that you can use:

git pull

to update to the latest version of tumblelog without causing any conflicts. I recommend to issue this command like once a month or so. If there is an update, please read the file to learn what has changed.

Change to a directory above the tumblelog directory and create a new directory, named after your site:

cd ..

Create in this directory a directory to store the generated files, and copy the template file and the markdown file. For example:

mkdir htdocs
cp ../tumblelog/tumblelog.html example.html
cp ../tumblelog/

Modify the copied template file and the copied markdown file.

Next, use sass to generate a CSS file inside the newly created htdocs directory, for example the style vector:

sass --sourcemap=none -t compressed ../tumblelog/styles/vector.scss \

Next, generate your site as described above.

Happy blogging!

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