Hugo on GitHub Pages with Travis CI

· by Artem Sidorenko · Read in about 4 min · (684 words)

I already wrote about deploying Hugo websites to the shared hosting by using Travis CI. GitHub Pages support HTTPS for custom domains from May 2018, so now it’s worth to have a look at this topic again.

This blogpost describes the setup of deploying Hugo with Travis CI to the GitHub Pages.

Preparation steps

  1. Install hugo on your local system, you might need it in order to build the site locally or test it
  2. Create a bot user account on GitHub (yes, they are allowed, have a look to the Tips). This account will get the write/push rights to the repository with GitHub Pages content.

Create repository or repositories

I assume you are going to setup a user or organisation page, so you would use a repository named like <user/org name> for your HTML content.

Starting from here there are two possible ways:

  1. to use one repository for sources (hugo repository) and publishing (generated HTML)
  2. to use two repositories: one for sources and another for publishing

Main differences between this two approaches:

  • one or two repositories
  • if your bot user would have write permissions to the source repository

I personally prefer the second approach, but some people like the first one because of ‘as-few-repos-as-possible’ perspective, which is also valid.

So, if you have chosen the first approach:

  • please create the <user/org name> repository. Allocate two branches: master and source and configure the source branch as protected branch
  • master branch will be used for hosting of generated HTML
  • source branch will play a ‘master’ branch for the sources of your page
  • Add your bot account as collaborator for the repository with write permissions

If you have chosen the second approach with two repositories:

  • please create two repositories: <user/org name> and something like homepage (name doesn’t really matter)
  • Create master branches in both repositories
  • Add your bot account as collaborator for the <user/org name> repository with write permissions

The collaborators page with write permissions should look like below: GitHub collaborators page

Create content

Create hugo source content, commit and push it either to the source branch of your <user/org name> repository or to the master branch of homepage repository. Please have a look to my previous post for an example.

Put your secrets to travis settings

In order to get the HTML content pushed to GitHub Pages, you have to create a secret variable in the Travis CI settings of your repository, which contains hugo source files. This variable should be called GITHUB_AUTH_SECRET and it should contain authentication string in the following syntax:


It should look like this:

Travis secret variables

Create travis configuration

Add deployment script to your source repository and update the placeholders with your data. Please use the GitHub HTTPs repository URL of your publishing repository, There is no difference for single or two-repository approach.


set -e

echo $GITHUB_AUTH_SECRET > ~/.git-credentials && chmod 0600 ~/.git-credentials
git config --global credential.helper store
git config --global "<GITHUB LOGIN OF BOT>"
git config --global "My cool bot"
git config --global push.default simple

rm -rf deployment
git clone -b master<GITHUB HTTPS PATH TO YOUR PUBLISHING REPO> deployment
rsync -av --delete --exclude ".git" public/ deployment
cd deployment
git add -A
# we need the || true, as sometimes you do not have any content changes
# and git woundn't commit and you don't want to break the CI because of that
git commit -m "rebuilding site on `date`, commit ${TRAVIS_COMMIT} and job ${TRAVIS_JOB_NUMBER}" || true
git push

cd ..
rm -rf deployment

Create Travis CI configuration: add following .travis.yml file to your source repository:

  - wget -O /tmp/hugo.deb
  - sudo dpkg -i /tmp/hugo.deb

  - hugo

  - provider: script
    script: bash
    skip_cleanup: true
      branch: source # or master if you are using the two-repository approach

In the above configuration we always build the site with hugo and do the deployment step only on master.

Bonus: preview of PRs of your site

You can even get previews build from your Pull Requests, if you would click ‘Details’ you will be forwarded to a temporary web site with PR preview:

Netlify preview

This can be done with netlify. See this as configuration example.

See too