A Minimal Webpage with Pelican

A Minimal Webpage with Pelican

Getting Started

I already had Anaconda Python installed, so the first thing to do was to create a conda environment, which I called pelicansite,:

conda create --name pelicansite

and then activate it: :

conda activate pelicansite

This is all done from the Anaconda Prompt so that the correct environment variables are set. Now I can install the pelican package (I don't need the optional argument for using markdown). :

conda install pelican

Then I create a folder for my webpage and navigate to it. :

mkdir mostly-conjecture
cd conjecture

Finally, I can run pelican-quickstart. My answers to the various prompts are provided below.

Welcome to pelican-quickstart v4.2.0.

This script will help you create a new Pelican-based website.

Please answer the following questions so this script can generate the files
needed by Pelican.

> Where do you want to create your new web site? [.]
> What will be the title of this web site? Mostly Conjecture
> Who will be the author of this web site? Ralph Rudd
> What will be the default language of this web site? [English]
> Do you want to specify a URL prefix? e.g., https://example.com   (Y/n) n
> Do you want to enable article pagination? (Y/n) n
> What is your time zone? [Europe/Paris] EST
> Do you want to generate a tasks.py/Makefile to automate generation and publishing? (Y/n) y
> Do you want to upload your website using FTP? (y/N) n
> Do you want to upload your website using SSH? (y/N) n
> Do you want to upload your website using Dropbox? (y/N) n
> Do you want to upload your website using S3? (y/N) n
> Do you want to upload your website using Rackspace Cloud Files? (y/N) n
> Do you want to upload your website using GitHub Pages? (y/N) y
> Is this your personal page (username.github.io)? (y/N) y

This created the following set of files: :

<DIR> content
<DIR> output

At this point I'm quite worried that I'm going to need to edit the Makefile before this is all over. It's been about 8 years since I've been in Make-hell, but I don't miss it in the least. Okay, before I can generate the site for the first time, I need some content.

Pelican will categorize the content based on the folder structure, unless I disable this. Since I intend to use the P.A.R.A. organizational system, that suits me just fine. I create the following file: :


I fill it with the bare minimum necessary for it to build. For reasons unknown, it fails unless I include the date. So at this stage, creating_this_webpage.rst looks like this:

Creating this Webpage with Pelican


:date: 2020-01-08

Now I navigate to the root directory, mostly-conjecture, and build my webpage for the first time. :

pelican content

This gives me the following warning: :

WARNING: Docutils has no localization for 'english'. Using 'en' instead.

This bothers me because the default for the pelican-quickstart prompt was english. I shudder to think I may have to edit the Makefile, but no, this is a variable set inside the pelicanconf.py file as DEFAULT_LANG. I change it from "English" to "En" and re-run pelican content. This time it runs without warnings or errors. :

Done: Processed 1 article, 0 drafts, 0 pages, 0 hidden pages and 0 draft pages in 3.69 seconds.

In a separate Anaconda prompt I navigate to my site's directory and run:

pelican --listen

I fire up Chrome and navigate to localhost:8000. Trumpets of victory! The first build of the webpage looks like this:

Victory trumpets please.

Modifying the Quickstart Page

However, when I check my second Anaconda prompt (the one ‘‘listening’'), I see that I've picked up a warning:

WARNING: Unable to find `/favicon.ico` or variations:

It goes on to list some variations of the file it's looking for. I don't know what a favicon is, but Wikipedia is to the rescue. After a quick google (and it might have been a Quorum answer), I head to favicongenerator.net. I modify my Steam profile icon to be the recommended 260 by 260 pixels and favicongenerator.net generates a host of different size and types of favicons for me. But where exactly do I put it?

Luckily, someone on StackOverflow has already asked "How to add a favicon to a pelican blog?". So I place my favicon.ico inside the newly created mostly-conjecture\content\extras and add the following lines to my pelicanconf.py:


    'extra/favicon.ico': {'path': 'favicon.ico'},

I rerun pelican content and pelican --listen (on the other prompt) and BOOM! The warning has disappeared.

There's a lot happening on the default page and I want to start by stripping some of that away. By commenting out the LINKS and SOCIAL variables inside my pelicanconf.py the page already shrinks quite a bit. But I don't want to work with the notmyidea theme; as there is too much going on. Instead, I follow this guide from Matt Makai (the "Modify Site Theme" section) as well as the Pelican documentation (see the Example at the end) and create my own, very basic theme.

First, I create the theme directory. I'm calling my own theme notsosimple. From my site's root directory:

mkdir themes/notsosimple/templates
mkdir themes/notsosimple/static/css

I create a templates/base.html:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <title>{% block title %}{% endblock %}</title>
  <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="{{ SITEURL }}/theme/css/style.css" />
 <div class="container">
  {% block content %}{% endblock %}

As well as a static/css/style.css:

body {
  max-width: 70ch;
  padding: 2ch;
  margin: auto;

The code for base.html is different from Matt's guide, as instead of using the Bootstrap framework, I'm linking to my custom stylesheet. The stylesheet is from 58 bytes of css to look great nearly everywhere.

Now the page looks like this:

Minimalist victory trumpets please.

And that's it. About as minimal as it's going to get.


  • Replace my favicon with something which is not a beloved and trademarked character
  • Create a StackOverflow account to upvote the answers which helped create this page
  • Contact Matt about article.locale_date.