I recently moved from Haskell-based Hakyll to Python-based Pelican for my web site. Both of them are flexible static site generators. The following is a summary of important points to set up a Mathjax-based blog with Pelican.

  • Start: Start by following this official guide. At this point, you should be able to have a simple blog running.

  • Setting: Almost all customizations can be done in pelicanconf.py. See settings documentation and add relevant variables you want to change. See also this example settings.

  • Theme: To change themes, first clone the pre-made themes from this Git repository. In pelicanconf.py, set

      THEME = '<path_to_theme_folder>/<theme_name>' Theme previews can be found [here](http://pelicanthemes.com/).
  • First page: Some theme comes with its own first page. In fact most of them set the homepage as a list of blog entries. To have your own static homepage, see this FAQ.

  • Custom menu: Most likely your chosen theme will put one post category as one menu item in the navigation bar. If this is not what you want, check the key DISPLAY_CATEGORIES_ON_MENU in the setting. For extra menu items, use

      MENUITEMS = [ ('item1', 'link to item1'), ('item2', 'link to item2') ]

Pelican with Mathjax

Using Pelican with Mathjax can be tricky. This is especially the case if posts are written in Markdown. Symbols like * and _ in your equations can confuse the Markdown parser. To set up Mathjax in your Pelican system, follow these steps.

  1. Install Latex plugin for Pelican. Follow the guide on the web. At this point Mathjax will work unless you use * or _ (well who doesn’t ?) in your equations which will interfere with the Markdown parser and break everything.

  2. To solve the problem, we need to add an extension to the python-markdown (the underlying Markdown parser) so that it knows about Mathjax. So, install this python-markdown-mathjax extension. The Mathjax should work perfectly at this point. If you do not have a root access to the system-wide python-markdown, you will not be able to put python-markdown-mathjax into extension folder. In that case, simply install python-markdown locally in your home and modify PYTHONPATH to include it. This is described in the homepage of python-markdown-mathjax.