Jekyll Setup on WSL Running Ubuntu

3 minute read


Back when I started this blog I ran a series on how I setup the development environment. It seems Hugo is the current hotness for static site generation but I like using Jekyll and it’s what I know.

This weekend I rebuilt my computer and looking back at the way I setup Jekyll it seems things have changed and the installation instructions are no longer valid.

I thought I’d take the opportunity to document how to setup Jekyll to correctly work with GitHub Pages which is an amazing, free way to host a site. I run Jekyll on an Ubuntu install on my Windows 10 PC using Windows Subsystem for Linux

Software Versions

This post was written assuming the following software requirements:

Windows Environment:

  • Windows 10 1909
  • Windows Subsystem for Linux v1
  • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS hosted on the Microsoft Store


  • Jekyll version 3.8.5

WSL Setup

This is well documented on the Microsoft Docs page but for completeness I will outline the steps.

First we need to install the WSL feature. Open a PowerShell prompt as an Administrator and run:

Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux

Once complete press Y to reboot the computer. Once logged back in it is time to install Ubuntu from the Microsoft Store. Open a PowerShell prompt as an Administrator again:

# Move to C:\Temp
Set-Location -Path C:\Temp

# Download Ubuntu 18.04
Invoke-WebRequest -Uri -OutFile Ubuntu1804.appx -UseBasicParsing

# Install Ubuntu 18.04
Add-AppxPackage .\Ubuntu1804.appx

Ubuntu should now be installed on your computer and appear in the Start Menu. Start the distro and we will have to do some initial setup. You need to add a username and password on the install. This can be different from your Windows credentials.

Installing, this may take a few minutes...
Please create a default UNIX user account. The username does not need to match your Windows username.
For more information visit:
Enter new UNIX username: cwestwater
Enter new UNIX password:
Retype new UNIX password:
passwd: password updated successfully
Installation successful!
To run a command as administrator (user "root"), use "sudo <command>".
See "man sudo_root" for details.


The next step is to update the installation with the latest patches/packages:

cwestwater@DESKTOP-11HR4LU:~$ sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y

The output above has been truncated. We now have Ubuntu 18.04 LTS installed on Windows 10.

Jekyll Installation

Next is to install Jekyll. It is a case of broadly following the Jekyll installation guide but with one point that needs changed.

First is to install the dependencies:

sudo apt-get install -y ruby-full build-essential zlib1g-dev

Once these are installed the next step is to setup environment variables to your ~/.bashrc file:

echo '# Install Ruby Gems to ~/gems' >> ~/.bashrc
echo 'export GEM_HOME="$HOME/gems"' >> ~/.bashrc
echo 'export PATH="$HOME/gems/bin:$PATH"' >> ~/.bashrc
source ~/.bashrc

Next up is to install Bundler:

gem install bundler

Finally we can install Jekyll. Now in the official install guide reference above the command given will install Jekyll v4.0.0. This is incompatible with GitHub pages as referenced in the GitHub Pages dependencies and versions. We require Jekyll v3.8.5.

It is simple to specify we want this version:

gem install jekyll --version 3.8.5

To check the right version of Jekyll is installed:

cwestwater@DESKTOP-11HR4LU:~$ jekyll --version
jekyll 3.8.5

We can also list all installed Gems and compare to the GitHub Pages requried versions by running the command gem list:

cwestwater@CWESTWATER-P500:/mnt/c$ gem list

*** LOCAL GEMS ***

activesupport (
addressable (2.7.0)
bigdecimal (default: 1.3.4)
bundler (2.1.4)
cmath (default: 1.0.0)
coffee-script (2.4.1)
coffee-script-source (1.11.1)
colorator (1.1.0)
commonmarker (0.17.13)
concurrent-ruby (1.1.6)
csv (default: 1.0.0)
date (default: 1.0.0)
dbm (default: 1.0.0)
did_you_mean (1.2.0)
dnsruby (1.61.3)
em-websocket (0.5.1)
etc (default: 1.0.0)
ethon (0.12.0)
eventmachine (1.2.7)
execjs (2.7.0)
faraday (1.0.1)
fcntl (default: 1.0.0)
ffi (1.12.2)
fiddle (default: 1.0.0)
fileutils (default: 1.0.2)
forwardable-extended (2.6.0)
gdbm (default: 2.0.0)
gemoji (3.0.1)
github-pages (204)
github-pages-health-check (1.16.1)
html-pipeline (2.12.3)
http_parser.rb (0.6.0)
i18n (1.8.2, 0.9.5)
io-console (default: 0.4.6)
ipaddr (default: 1.2.0)
jekyll (3.8.5)
jekyll-avatar (0.7.0)
jekyll-coffeescript (1.1.1)
jekyll-commonmark (1.3.1)
jekyll-commonmark-ghpages (0.1.6)
jekyll-default-layout (0.1.4)
jekyll-feed (0.13.0)
jekyll-gist (1.5.0)
jekyll-github-metadata (2.13.0)
jekyll-include-cache (0.2.0)
jekyll-mentions (1.5.1)
jekyll-optional-front-matter (0.3.2)
jekyll-paginate (1.1.0)
jekyll-readme-index (0.3.0)
jekyll-redirect-from (0.15.0)
jekyll-relative-links (0.6.1)
jekyll-remote-theme (0.4.1)
jekyll-sass-converter (2.1.0, 1.5.2)
jekyll-seo-tag (2.6.1)
jekyll-sitemap (1.4.0)
jekyll-swiss (1.0.0)
jekyll-theme-architect (0.1.1)
jekyll-theme-cayman (0.1.1)
jekyll-theme-dinky (0.1.1)
jekyll-theme-hacker (0.1.1)
jekyll-theme-leap-day (0.1.1)
jekyll-theme-merlot (0.1.1)
jekyll-theme-midnight (0.1.1)
jekyll-theme-minimal (0.1.1)
jekyll-theme-modernist (0.1.1)
jekyll-theme-primer (0.5.4)
jekyll-theme-slate (0.1.1)
jekyll-theme-tactile (0.1.1)
jekyll-theme-time-machine (0.1.1)
jekyll-titles-from-headings (0.5.3)
jekyll-watch (2.2.1)
jemoji (0.11.1)
json (default: 2.1.0)
kramdown (2.1.0, 1.17.0)
kramdown-parser-gfm (1.1.0)
liquid (4.0.3)
listen (3.2.1)
mercenary (0.3.6)
mini_portile2 (2.4.0)
minima (2.5.1)
minitest (5.14.0, 5.10.3)
multipart-post (2.1.1)
net-telnet (0.1.1)
nokogiri (1.10.9)
octokit (4.18.0)
openssl (default: 2.1.1)
pathutil (0.16.2)
power_assert (0.2.7)
psych (default: 3.0.2)
public_suffix (4.0.3, 3.1.1)
rake (12.3.1)
rb-fsevent (0.10.3)
rb-inotify (0.10.1)
rdoc (default: 6.0.1)
rouge (3.17.0, 3.13.0)
ruby-enum (0.8.0)
rubyzip (2.3.0)
safe_yaml (1.0.5)
sass (3.7.4)
sass-listen (4.0.0)
sassc (2.2.1)
sawyer (0.8.2)
scanf (default: 1.0.0)
sdbm (default: 1.0.0)
stringio (default: 0.0.1)
strscan (default: 1.0.0)
terminal-table (1.8.0)
test-unit (3.2.5)
thread_safe (0.3.6)
typhoeus (1.3.1)
tzinfo (1.2.7)
unicode-display_width (1.7.0)
webrick (default: 1.4.2)
zeitwerk (2.3.0)
zlib (default: 1.0.0)

We should now have Jekyll and its dependencies installed to publish a blog on GitHub pages.

Wrap Up

This is a simple set of steps to follow but as someone that does not know Linux very well let alone Ruby it took me a while to figure out why Jekyll was not building my site. The step of using gem install jekyll --version 3.8.5 is key to success.