Remember that article I recently wrote, “How to use Tumblr as a web host for a blog you FULLY control, without paying anything“? Oh, you didn’t read it? That’s okay. I know it was long, and somewhat arcane.
The good news is you don’t have to bother with that anymore. Here’s a much, much shorter, 100% point-and-click solution that does the same exact thing as everything in that blog post (except the part about buying your own domain, which you should still do before you start).
- Download VirtualBox for your platform, and install it. This is just like every other software application installation process you’re already familiar with, but it’s really cool.
- Download the Bring Your Own Content (BYOC) appliance I’ve already pre-configured. This is a standard ZIP archive. It’s big. (I’m sorry. Workin’ on thatâ€¦.) All you need to know is that an “appliance” is a pre-packaged computer-in-a-file (yes, an entire computer bundled inside one file) that a program like VirtualBox can run on your physical computer. This is the special file that lets you skip all the complicated stuff in the previous article, because I’ve done all the complicated arcane server configuration for you already.
- Double-click the ZIP file to unzip it. The ZIP file contains three important components. They are:
- The “Bring Your Own Content” virtual appliance itself (this is the pre-packaged your computer that is already set up to be your own personal web host).
- A folder called
mysql-data-vm(this is where your databases, the contents of your blog posts) will be saved). In an upcoming step, you’ll need to tell VirtualBox where to find this folder because the virtual appliance is expecting it.
- A folder called
wordpress-vm(this is where your images and other media assets will be saved). Like the
mysql-data-vmfolder, you’ll need to tell VirtualBox where to find this folder because the appliance is expecting this folder, too.
- Double-click the “Bring Your Own Content” file. This will open VirtualBox’s “Import Applianceâ€¦” screen.
Click “Import” at the bottom of the screen and go get a coffee. This could take a couple minutes.
- Click “Shared folders” to help VirtualBox find the other two folders that you downloaded.
For each of the two shared folders (the
mysql-data-vmfolder and the
wordpress-vmfolder), you’ll need to edit the “Path” that tells VirtualBox where to find them. They’re called “shared folders” because both your physical computer and the virtual appliance will be using them. And because of that, you might want to move these folders to some spot on your computer where you can access them easily but that won’t be in your way, and that you won’t accidentally delete. Your “Downloads” folder is probably not a good place for these folders, but your home folder’s “Documents” folder might be (that’s where I keep mine), so move them there.
- Select the
mysql-data-vmfolder from the list and then click the “Edit” button, which looks like a small blue folder with an orange circle on top of it.
- Enter the full path to wherever you moved the
mysql-data-vmfolder on your computer. You can click the downwards pointing arrow and choose “otherâ€¦” from the list to browse to the location, like you would using just about any other program.
- Do the same thing as you did with the
mysql-data-vmfolder with the
wordpress-vmfolder, editing its path to wherever you moved the
wordpress-vmfolder, of course.
- Click “OK” as many times as you need to to return to the VirtualBox Manager main screen.
- Select the
- With the “Bring Your Own Content” appliance selected, click “Start” to get things going.
Give it a few moments to do its thing (30 seconds or so), during which time you should see what looks like an oldschool computer booting up, and which you can just ignore.1
Then open a new tab in your Web browser (as in, the Web browser on your computer, not in the appliance) and type in
localhost:8080/wordpress in the address bar. You should see a WordPress installation screen, ready to go.
From here on out it’s just a standard WordPress install, also described in the prior article, except without any of the automatic install and update feature limitations. It all works. Just go to your new WordPress plugins screenâ€”you might wanna bookmark thatâ€”and activate Tumblr Crosspostr. Follow the on-screen instructions for connecting to Tumblr (also detailed in Tumblr Crosspostr’s screenshots over at the WordPress Plugin Repository), and voila.
As long as the “Bring Your Own Content” window is running in the background somewhere, your personal web host is up. If you want to shut it down, just close the window and select “Save state” or “Pause” which will, unsurprisingly, freeze the virtual machine. Then you can quit VirtualBox Manager, too. When you want to do some Web publishing again, just open VirtualBox and click “Start” to fire up the Bring Your Own Content appliance again, and point your browser at your locally-installed WordPress again.
With this process, you’ve got your Tumblr blog backed up to your computer. You can create posts on Tumblr from your own computer. You don’t need a Web host at all. As long as you’re making backups of your personal computer (and you should be), you’ve got all your bases covered.2
See? Free as in no money really does mean free as in freedom.
- What you’ve just done is turned on a virtual machine, a computer inside your computer, that just so happens to be pre-configured with everything you need to be your own Web host. In other words, it’s a Web server. Yup, like the ones you would otherwise have to pay for. When it’s done, you’ll see a login screen with the default username “byoc” already entered into the box. The password is the same,
byoc, but you’ll never actually have to log in here unless you want to explore what a Linux server looks like. [↩]
- You might want to tell whatever backup software you’re using to exclude the actual VirtualBox virtual machine, as in, the appliance you’re running. That’s because it’s huge and every time you run it, your backup software is likely to think it’s changed bunches. But it hasn’t. All the important stuff is in those shared folders, so even if you totally lose the appliance, you can still start right back up where you left off by pointing your existing shared folders at another copy of the thing. [↩]