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5. Making a custom homepage

As part of your Tardis account, you get your own subdomain at <username> - you can put anything (that doesn't break our rules) here, and expose whatever applications you want.

For now, let's start by making a static homepage (one that doesn't change for each visitor). To do this, we'll create a GitLab repository, push some code to it, then add a special config that tells GitLab to make this a homepage.

We're going to assume a little bit of familiarity with Git, but not much with GitLab. Check the links here for where to learn these.

Logging into GitLab and making a repository

Head over to and sign in with Tardis SSO. You'll reach the home screen, which will list all the projects you have so far. Click the + in the top right, then New project/repository in the dropdown.

We'll start with a blank project so we can learn - make sure your project name is <username> so that GitLab knows we want it to be our homepage. Make sure you initialise the repository with a README.

Setting up an SSH key

Now we have our repository, we want to clone it locally. To do this, we need to authenticate to Gitlab in a way it understands - we'll use SSH keys because they're convenient.

In a terminal, run ssh-keygen, leaving the path at the default value. We recommend you set a passphrase - it can be anything.

Now run cat ~/.ssh/ to fetch the public part of your SSH key. Go back to GitLab, click on the icon in the top right → preferences → ssh keys on the left sidebar → paste in your ssh key and hit add.

Now we can use our SSH key to authenticate to Gitlab. Behind the scenes, this is using public-key cryptography.

Cloning the repository

Go back to the project you've just created and click the blue 'Clone' button. Copy the text under 'Clone with SSH' - it should look like

Go to your command line and type git clone <URL>. Now we have a local copy of our repository that we can make changes to, then push them back up!

Making a homepage

For now, we're just going to make a simple homepage using HTML. Create a folder named public, and inside put index.html:

<h1>Hello, World!</h1>

You should come back and edit this later, adding whatever content you want.

Telling GitLab it's a homepage

Now we have our 'site', we need to add some special steps to make Gitlab upload and serve it for us.

Create a new file called .gitlab-ci.yml:

image: alpine:latest
  stage: deploy
  - echo 'Nothing to do...'
    - public
  - main

If you're not familiar, this file is used to specify CI steps, which can be used for automatically testing or deploying code when it's pushed to Gitlab.

Here, we're only defining one thing to do: 'pages', which doesn't actually do anything. We say 'public' is the output of our step, and that we only want to run it when we push to main.

'pages' is a special name which makes Gitlab publish this, so once we commit our changes and push, it will 'build' it and then start serving. It will take a minute or two, especially the first time, but after that you're homepage will be live at <your username>!


We've just used plain HTML - if this is new to you then consider learning HTML, CSS, and JS - they're the 3 languages used for websites and are both very useful to know and not that hard to learn.

If you don't want to keep writing HTML, consider using some kind of static site generator:

  • Jekyll is pretty common for blogs, and lets you write your main content in Markdown
  • Hugo is a newer alternative similar to Jekyll
  • Astro is a less blog-focused alternative that will be familiar to React users.

Here are sample repositories for all of the mentioned approaches and more.

As we've mentioned, Gitlab CI can be configured to run any command, so you could even make your own custom scripts to do this - the author's page uses a mix of Astro and Emacs org-mode.

Also note that you can have multiple repositories - If you do this with a repo called awesome-project it's homepage will live at <username>

tutorials/5.txt · Last modified: 2023/04/03 13:22 by tcmal