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Creating a Jenkins Server for GitHub Projects


A deploy process should provide consistency, incorporate tests, and utilize a multi stage deploy process to protect your production server, provide useful logging, catch breaking changes quickly, and integrate smoothly with your version control software.

There are a few options available for managing a deploy process like this. Many of these are managed services which means much of it is opaque and outside your control. If you’re like me, you’d rather have total access to and control of your deploy chain. The best option for control freaks like us, is Jenkins.

This post will walk through creating a dedicated Jenkins server and setting it up with an SSH key on your GitHub account.


Moving forward this post will assume a few things about you and your project:

Creating the Server

Login to your DigitalOcean account and select Create->Droplets. Select Ubuntu, the $5 server option, select the checkbox to add a saved SSH key to the new server, give it a descriptive name (I’ve used “Jenkins”), and click “Create”.


Wait a couple of minutes for your new droplet to boot up.

Next open a terminal window and login to your new server where you’ll set up a new sudo user and start using that account:

ssh root@[]
adduser [username]
usermod -aG sudo [username]
su - [username]

If you don’t already have an SSH key saved in your digitalocean account, or if you need help with any of the above steps, check out this handy tutorial.

Let’s setup a firewall to only allow SSH connections (port 22) and access to the Jenkins web admin (port 8080) with the following commands:

sudo ufw default deny incoming
sudo ufw default allow outgoing
sudo ufw allow 22
sudo ufw allow 8080
sudo ufw enable

We can confirm our changes with the command:

sudo ufw status

If you have any trouble, or want additional information on setting up ufw, take a look here.

Installing Jenkins

Step by step instructions for the initial installation and admin creation can be found here.

You will not need to worry about the ufw portions as you already set that up.

GitHub Setup

Once you’ve installed Jenkins and created your admin user using the steps from the above link, we’ll want to create an SSH key for our new jenkins user so the installation can interact with your GitHub projects.

From the command line run the following, replacing the placeholder email address with the email address associated with your GitHub account:

su - jenkins
ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -C ""

Accept the defaults offered for location and no passphrase.

Show the new public key with the command:

cat ~/.ssh/

Login to your GitHub account. Click the account image, then “Settings”, then “SSH and GPG keys”, then “New SSH key”.


Name the new key.  I used the name “Jenkins”. Copy and Paste the key you just made on your Jenkins server into the “Key” form field and click “Add SSH key”. You may need to confirm your password.



You now have a dedicated Jenkins server with SSH access to your projects’ GitHub account!

Now you can create jobs to handle deploy processes for projects and have those jobs be triggered by commits to the repositories managed by your GitHub account.

Once those jobs have incorporated all your best practices steps and tests you can develop with confidence that those important integration checks will happen every time.

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