Reading 400 Feeds with Newsbeuter
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:
- Feeds related to my projects and the blogs of friends and family. I want to read all of these several times per day.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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