When we first read the announcement by A Small Orange, we weren't sure what Node.js & Ghost was. It turns out that Node.js is just some technical per-requisite for Ghost, and it is Ghost that made us go wow!
Ghost was only publicly launched a couple of weeks ago, so it is a testament that large companies such as A Small Orange have prepared their Shared Hosting servers especially so that this can be offered. We have spoken to a few other companies and so far the response is that their Shared Hosting Environment is incompatible, so A Small Orange is ahead of the curve here.
So what is Ghost?
Ghost is quite simply one of the best "pure" blogging platforms we have seen (edit: although that doesn't mean we don't prefer a more feature-rich environment such as WordPress — Read our Ghost Review or our thoughts on this). It doesn't have all the features, and versatility of WordPress, but it does have an amazingly clean interface that is designed perfectly for blogging. It is open source, which will be run as a not for profit, so there is bound to be a lot of buzz on this platform as it develops.
We think the new Ghost platform requires a whole section of articles itself. We will be trying this out and reviewing it properly in the next day or two, but our first look is positive. Check this video for an excellent overview.
Stay tuned over the next day or two, for some detailed step by step guides on how to install this, our thoughts on the process, and a more detailed review of the features of Ghost. We wouldn't do it justice writing a short article on the topic.
What is Node.js?
Essentially, Node.js fills a particular need for developers, with its particular strength for data-intensive real-time, scalable network applications that run across distributed devices as it’s capable of handling a huge number of simultaneous connections with high throughput, which equates to high scalability. You do not get the same benefit with high CPU intensive operations.
Update: 8th November 2013 — Ghost One Click Installer now at ASO
If you have following developments with the new Ghost Blogging platform over the last few weeks, you will have seen many people struggle to install it, and indeed, you would need a more expensive VPS to do so. Configuration was done via the command line, and you can see our detailed and lengthy tutorial see how complicated that was (we have kept the old instructions at the bottom of the tutorial so people can see how complicated it first was to install).
Well, it is not complicated anymore, especially with A Small Orange. If you have ever used Softaculous or some other one click installer to install WordPress, you will know that it can be installed within a few minutes by completing a few simple fields on a form (username, password, directory, ETC.). Well, the good news is that Softaculous has now enabled the installation of Ghost through its system that makes the complete installation process take little more than a couple of minutes. You can see the screenshot of the setup screen below:
As you can see there are only six fields you will need to enter to get the Ghost Blogging Platform installed, but that is quite typically of all software installed via Softaculous. It is our favorite one-click installer.
The other benefit of this One-Click Installer is that the rather complicated process of upgrading Ghost has now been simplified with this now incorporating the Ghost Updater, which is undertaken with just a couple of clicks.
Update: February 3, 2014 — A Small Orange Releases One Click Upgrade for Ghost & 0.4 Support
A Small Orange have released an update to the custom built Ghost Installer (edit: despite them initially depicting it as self-built by A Small Orange, we now believe this was undertaken by Softaculous) to allow automatic updates when new updates are available for the Ghost Blogging Platform. On this note, we would comment that looking at the Softaculous website, they seem to have integrated the Ghost install as a standard option. You may, therefore, start to see this as a feature at other hosts, albeit you may have to sign up to a VPS plan to take advantage. A Small Orange remain one of the few that offer Node.js on a shared server and is very good value with our exclusive offers.
With the previous release of version 0.4 of the Ghost Blogging Platform, and A Small Orange being one of the few hosting providers that allow Ghost on their shared hosting platform it is great to see that they have followed through with their custom built Softaculous script and set up a one-click upgrade for their customers.
Unfortunately, the automatic update only applies to Ghost Installations that were made using their automated installer, but they have very helpfully provided instructions if you installed Ghost via SSH. To be honest, if you haven't already installed Ghost via Softaculous, we would suggest you do it this way to ensure you can seamlessly update Ghost quickly in the future.
While Ghost seemed to have much promise in its simplicity, the main problem it faces is the lack of support from many hosting providers. With the support for upgrades offered by one of the major one-click installers (Softaculous), you can be sure that you will always be running the latest version. An alternative is to sign up with Ghost.org directly and have them manage the install for you. Based on the how Ghost is still in the development stage, this might just be the wisest choice.