For self-hosted Ghost users, a custom configuration file can be used to override Ghost's default behaviour. This provides you with a range of options to configure your publication to suit your needs.

Overview

When you install Ghost using the supported and recommended method using ghost-cli, a custom configuration file is created for you by default. There are some configuration options which are required by default, and many optional configurations.

The three required options are url and database which are configured during setup, and mail which needs to be configured once you've installed Ghost.

This article explains how to setup your mail config, as well as walk you through all of the available config options.

Custom configuration files

The configuration is managed by nconf. A custom configuration file must be a valid JSON file located in the root folder and changes to the file can be implemented using ghost restart.

Since Node.js has the concept of environments built in, Ghost supports two envionments: development and production. All public Ghost publications run in production mode, while development mode can be used to test or build on top of Ghost locally.

Check out the official install guides for development and production.

The configuration files reflect the environment you are using:

  • config.development.json
  • config.production.json

Ghost in development

If you would like to start Ghost in development, you don't have to specify any environment, because development is default. To test Ghost in production, you can use:

NODE_ENV=production node index.js

Debugging the configuration output

Start Ghost with:

DEBUG=ghost:*,ghost-config node index.js

Running Ghost with config env variables

Start Ghost using environment variables which match the name and case of each config option:

url=http://ghost.local:2368 node index.js

For nested config options, separate with two underscores:

database__connection__host=mysql node index.js

Configuration options

There are a number of configuration options which are explained in detail in this article. Below is an index of all configuration options:

Name Required? Description
url In production Set the public URL for your blog
database In production Type of databased used (default: sqlite3)
mail In production Add a mail service
admin Optional Set the protocol and hostname for your admin panel
server Optional Host and port, or socket for Ghost to listen on
privacy Optional Disable features set in privacy.md
paths Optional Customise internal paths
referrerPolicy Optional Control the content attribute of the meta referrer tag
useMinFiles Optionl Generate assets url with .min notation
storage Optional Set a custom storage adapter
scheduling Optional Set a custom scheduling adapter
logging Optional Configure logging for Ghost
spam Optional Configure spam settings
caching Optional Configure caching settings
compress Optional Disable compression of server responses
imageOptimization Optional Configure image manipulation and processing

URL

(Required in production)

Once a Ghost publication is installed, the first thing to do is set a url. When installing using ghost-cli the install process request the URL during the setup process.

Enter the URL that is used to access your publication. If using a subpath, enter the full path, https://example.com/blog/. If using SSL, always enter the URL with https://.

SSL

We always recommend using SSL to run your Ghost publication in production. Ghost has a number of configuration options for working with SSL, and securing the URLs for the admin /ghost/ and the frontend of your publication. Without SSL your username and password are sent in plaintext.

ghost-cli prompts to setup SSL during the installation process. After a successful ssl setup, you can find your ssl certificate in /etc/letsencrypt.

If you see errors such as access denied from url, then the provided URL in your config file is incorrect and needs to be updated.

Database

(Required in production)

Ghost is configured using MySQL by default:

"database": {
  "client": "mysql",
  "connection": {
    "host": "127.0.0.1",
    "port": 3306,
    "user": "your_database_user",
    "password": "your_database_password",
    "database": "your_database_name"
  }
}

Alternatively you can configure sqlite3:

"database": {
  "client": "sqlite3",
  "connection": {
    "filename": "content/data/ghost-test.db"
  },
  "useNullAsDefault": true,
  "debug": false
}

Number of connections

It's possible to limit the number of simultaneous connections using the pool setting. The default values are a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 10, which means Ghost always maintains two active database connections. You can set the minimum to 0 to prevent this:

"database": {
  "client": ...,
  "connection": { ... },
  "pool": {
    "min": 2,
    "max": 20
  }
}

SSL

In a typical Ghost installation the MySQL database will be on the same server as Ghost itself. With cloud computing and database-as-a-service providers you might want to enable SSL connections to the database.

If your Certificate CA or the CA of your database provider is in the Mozilla trusted CA list you can enable SSL by adding "ssl": true to the database connection configuration:

"database": {
  "client": "mysql",
  "connection": {
    "host": "your_cloud_database",
    "port": 3306,
    "user": "your_database_user",
    "password": "your_database_password",
    "database": "your_database_name",
    "ssl": true
  }
}

This has been confirmed to work with Azure Database for MySQL. To find out if your provider is supported see the Mozilla Included CA Certificate List.

For Amazon RDS you'll need to configure the connection with "ssl": "Amazon RDS":

"database": {
  "client": "mysql",
  "connection": {
    "host": "your_cloud_database",
    "port": 3306,
    "user": "your_database_user",
    "password": "your_database_password",
    "database": "your_database_name",
    "ssl": "Amazon RDS"
  }
}

Custom or self-signed certificates are a little more advanced. You'll need to output your CA certificate (not your CA private key) as a single line string including literal new line characters \n (you can get the single line string with awk '{printf "%s\\n", $0}' CustomRootCA.crt) and add it to the configuration:

"database": {
  "client": "mysql",
  "connection": {
    "host": "your_cloud_database",
    "port": 3306,
    "user": "your_database_user",
    "password": "your_database_password",
    "database": "your_database_name",
    "ssl": {
      "ca": "-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----\nMIIFY... truncated ...pq8fa/a\n-----END CERTIFICATE-----\n"
    }
  }
}

For a certificate chain, include all CA certificates in the single line string:

"database": {
  "client": "mysql",
  "connection": {
    "host": "your_cloud_database",
    "port": 3306,
    "user": "your_database_user",
    "password": "your_database_password",
    "database": "your_database_name",
    "ssl": {
      "ca": "-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----\nMIIFY... truncated ...pq8fa/a\n-----END CERTIFICATE-----\n-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----\nMIIFY... truncated ...wn8v90/a\n-----END CERTIFICATE-----\n"
    }
  }
}

Mail

(Required in production)

The most important piece of configuration once you've been through the install process is to setup mail. Mail configuration allows Ghost to send emails such as lost password and user invite emails.

Ghost uses Nodemailer 0.7 under the hood, and tries to use the direct mail service if available - but a more reliable solution is to setup mail using an external service.

Setup an email sending account

Choose an external email service and sign up and verify your account. We highly recommend using Mailgun which allows up to 10,000 emails per month for free.

Configure mail with Mailgun

Mailgun allows you to use your own domain for sending transactional emails. Otherwise you can use a subdomain that Mailgun provide you with (also known as the sandbox domain, limited to 300 emails per day). You can change this at any time.

Make a note of your domain information

Once your domain is setup, find your new email service SMTP username and password that has been created for you (this is not the ones you used to sign up for Mailgun with). You can find this under "Domain Information" and make a note of the following details:

  • Default SMTP login
  • Default password

Update your config.production.json file

Open your production config file in any code editor and paste the username and password you just copied into the defined fields, for example:

"mail": {
    "transport": "SMTP",
    "options": {
        "service": "Mailgun",
        "auth": {
            "user": "postmaster@example.mailgun.org",
            "pass": "1234567890"
        }
    }
}

Once you are finished, hit save and then run restart ghost for your changes to take effect. It is possible to reuse your settings for a development environment if you have both, by making the same changes to config.development.json.

Amazon SES

It's also possible to use Amazon Simple Email Service. Use the SMTP username and password given when signing up and configure your config.[env].json file as follows:

"mail": {
    "transport": "SMTP",
    "options": {
        "host": "YOUR-SES-SERVER-NAME",
        "port": 465,
        "service": "SES",
        "auth": {
            "user": "YOUR-SES-ACCESS-KEY-ID",
            "pass": "YOUR-SES-SECRET-ACCESS-KEY"
        }
    }
}

From address

By default the 'from' address for mail sent from Ghost is set to the title of your publication, for example <ghost@your-publication.com>. To override this to something different, use:

"mail": {
    "from": "myemail@address.com",
}

A custom name can also be provided:

"mail": {
    "from": "'Custom Name' <myemail@address.com>",
}

Admin URL

Admin can be used to specify a different protocol for your admin panel or a different hostname (domain name). It can't affect the path at which the admin panel is served (this is always /ghost/).

"admin": {
  "url": "http://example.com"
}

Server

The server host and port are the IP address and port number that Ghost listens on for requests. By default, requests are routed from port 80 to Ghost by nginx (recommended), or apache.

"server": {
    "host": "127.0.0.1",
    "port": 2368
}

Unix Sockets

Ghost can also be configured to listen on a unix socket by changing the server config:

"server": {
    "socket": "path/to/socket.sock"
}

The default permissions are 0660, but this can be configured by expanding the socket config:

"server": {
    "socket": {
        "path": "path/to/socket.sock",
        "permissions": "0666"
   }
}

Privacy

All features inside the privacy.md file are enabled by default. It is possible to turn these off in order to protect privacy:

  • Update check
  • Gravatar
  • RPC ping
  • Structured data

For more information about the features, read the privacy.md page.

To turn off all of the features, use:

"privacy": {
    "useTinfoil": true
}

Alternatively, configure each feature individually:

"privacy": {
    "useUpdateCheck": false,
    "useGravatar": false,
    "useRpcPing": false,
    "useStructuredData": false
}

Paths

The configuration of paths can be relative or absolute. To use a content directory that does not live inside the Ghost folder, specify a paths object with a new contentPath:

"paths": {
    "contentPath": "content/"
},

When using a custom content path, the content directory must exist and contain sub directories for data, images, themes, logs and adapters.

If using an Sqlite database, you'll also need to update the path to your database to match the new location of the data folder.

Referrer Policy

Set the value of the content attribute of the meta referrer HTML tag by adding referrerPolicy to your config. origin-when-crossorigin is default. Read through all possible options.

Logging

Configure how Ghost should log, for example:

"logging": {
  "path": "something/",
  "level": "info",
  "rotation": {
    "enabled": true,
    "count": 15,
    "period": "1d"
  },
  "transports": ["stdout", "file"]
}

level

The default log level is info which prints all info, warning and error logs. Set it to error to only print errors.

rotation

Tell Ghost to rotate your log files. By default Ghost keeps 10 log files and rotates every day. Rotation is enabled by default in production and disabled in development.

transports

Define where Ghost should log to. By default Ghost writes to stdout and into file for production, and to stdout only for development.

path

Log your content path, e.g. content/logs/. Set any path but ensure the permissions are correct to write into this folder.

Spam

Tell Ghost how to treat spam requests.

Caching

Configure caching for sitemaps, redirects or assets.

Compress

The compression flag is turned on by default using "compress": true. Alternatively you can turn it off with "compress": false.

Image optimisation

When uploading images into the Ghost editor, they are automatically processed and compressed by default. This can be disabled in your config.[env].json file using:

"imageOptimization": {
  "resize": false
}

Image compression details:

  • Resize the image to 2000px max width
  • JPEG's are compressed to 80% quality.
  • Meta data removed

The original image is kept with the suffix _0.

Summary

You've explored how to configure a self-hosted Ghost publication with the required config options, as well as discovered how to make use of the optional config options that are available in the config.[env].json file.

If you run into any issues when configuring your publication, try searching this site to find information about common error messages and issues.