Reading 400 Feeds with Newsbeuter «
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I posted a few years ago about looking for a good Linux feed reader and a reader’s email reminded me to revisit the topic. It’s time for another blog post where I talk about how I overthink some part of my daily routine but it lets me do in a few minutes what I could otherwise waste a few hours on.

Could anyone recommend a good feed reader for Linux? I need to be able to organize my ~160 feeds in folders, read an entire feed or set of feeds without having to click incessantly, and get already-read items out of the way.

Since I wrote that, tagging has replaced folders, I have over 400 feeds, and I’ve adopted Newsbeuter for reading my feeds. It’s a great console-based feed reader that lets me zip through my feeds with vim-like keybindings. I’ve included my config file at the bottom of this post.

I’ve found it most useful to tag my feeds by how often they update. I’ve found five broad categories:

Personal
Feeds related to my projects and the blogs of friends and family. I want to read all of these several times per day.
Daily
Mostly comics and commentators that update 3-7 times per week, but usually only once per day. These are time-insensitive entertainment, so I can let them build up for a few days or weeks before I go through them.
Irregular
This is the vast bulk of my feeds and update between once per week and once per year. When I like a blog and enjoy reading its archive, I’ll follow it to keep an eye out for new posts. I could read this as infrequently as every month.
Noisy
I only follow a handful of blogs that update multiple times per day and I’ll read them every day or few days, skimming most of the items. Usually any blog that updates this frequently has a pretty lousy signal-to-noise ratio, so they don’t tend to stay in my feedlist for more than a month or two at a time before I get fed up.
Aggregators
Social news sites, usually I read them once in the morning and once in the evening. Sometimes more often if I’m procrastinating.

I’ve found it far more useful to tag my feeds by these reading habits than by their topic. I can sit down to read whatever my current time and attention allow rather than wading through all of it at once.

There’s only one feature I’d like from Newsbeuter. When I travel, I may be offline for several days and only have a few minutes of connectivity when I do get on. I’d like to leave a script of some kind running on a shell account somewhere to collect feed items to quickly spool to me when I’m online. Alternately, I’d be happy running newsbeuter on a remote host if I could still open tabs in my local browser as usual.

Here’s that config file:

# no automatic reloading
refresh-on-startup no
auto-reload no
reload-time 360 # minutes

# reloading
reload-threads 4
reload-only-visible-feeds no
show-read-feeds no
download-retries 4

# notification
notify-screen yes
notify-xterm yes

# storage
max-items 200

# external programs - ff is a firefox wrapper
browser ff

# display
article-sort-order date-desc
feedlist-format "%S%n %11u %t"
articlelist-format "%D %f %?T?;%-17T; ?%t"
datetime-format %m-%d
color background white black
color listnormal white black
color listfocus black white
color info black white
color article white black

# interface
confirm-exit yes
bind-key k up
bind-key j down
bind-key O open-in-browser-and-mark-read


Comments

  1. newsbeuter does indeed work as the best command line feed reader, and it also works as an interface to google reader. i rather use graphical programs, but since i’m already converting to vim (and less, and vim-like apps) it is nice to build up some familiarity.
    thanks for the post!

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