The State of RSS Reading in Linux

As a desktop Linux user for over 5yrs, almost 3yrs of which I’ve been using Gentoo, I find it annoying to say the least that the RSS readers I’ve encountered are less than wonderful. There are some interesting projects of course, but for someone that lives on his feeds, I’ve yet to find anythiing that meets the kind of standard I’d wish for in a reader.

The two main projects that I’m aware of are Liferea and Akregator, part of the KDE desktiop system.

Liferea hss been my reader for a long time, and it’s OK, but clunky and somewhat ugly. Akregator is something i’ve been meaning to go back to (the last time I tried it it was really not ready for primetime) and this morning I did. It’s better, but still lacks maturity and full keyboard navigation. It also (like liferea) takes a long time to mark a folder as read if that folder contains a lot of feed items. For now, I’m going to stick with Akregator for a little while and see how I get on as it does have some features I like (like an icon that sits in the system tray and tells you how many unread posts it has) and it’s much more “readable” for me. I have pretty poor vision so that’s a top priority.

What About Firefox?

Lets be clear: I won’t put myself at the mercy of an online service, I want a desktop reader.

When I first discovered feeds and blogs, I used Firefox’s Sage, which seemed ok till it started mangling my feeds, it seemed to top out at around 300 feeds and start going all wonky. I’d be very interested to hear anyones experience with that app recently.

Is Sage ready for primetime? Is it of industrial strength now?

Im not sure what else exists for Firefox, or if they’d be worth trying, so if anyone has anything to say about RSS reading in Firefox it would be appreciated. I already do all of my blogging using our own blog editor for Firefox so that would make some sense. Hell, maybe we should build RSS reading into PFF?

Anyway, your thoughts welcomed on the state of blog reading in Linux….

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11 thoughts on “The State of RSS Reading in Linux

  1. I just started using the google reader because I use lots of machines and wanted my reader available on all of them. After a few days (and learning a few keyboard shortcuts) I finally like it enough that I’ve ditched Sage, my previous favorite.

  2. I think you are on to something about a Perfromancing RSS reader. The RSS reader for the professional blogger. Sweet, let me know when to sign up.

  3. Thanks, i may have to give it another go, but i’ve been using Akregator all day now and it’s growing on me…

    the workflow is quite easy, and although there is work to do on keyboard nav, what it has now is pretty usable..

  4. I tend to get to the feed with the mouse, then just tap space to move from post to post. The only oddity there is that when a feed goes on for more space than you have on your screen, space still moves to the next, it doesn’t scroll first *then* move to the next, as I’ve seen more often.

    It’s got fast switching of guides, with Ctrl-1 to Ctrl-9, so as long as you can limit the number of guides you use, it’s quick. Shift-tab to select the feeds list, then use the arrow keys to get from one to the next, or just hit space again when you’re on the last item in the feed you’re reading, and it will select the first item in the next feed with unread items.

    It also mentions that Ctrl-+ and Ctrl– increase and decrease the font size.

  5. I quite liked blogbridge but attensa (an outlook plugin + web based) suits my working habits more. I can’t recall using it with the keyboard, for some reason when “reading” I turn into a mouse user…

  6. I did try blogbridge sometime last year, but can’t recall exactly why it wouldn’t fit me — probably just didn’t like the way it groups things, or possibly font-size issues (a common problem for me).

    What’s the keyboard only navigation like in blogbridge?

  7. I’m currently on Windows, but I’m trying to find a good cross-platform reader so I’m not stuck there.

    RSS Owl is based on Java, which I don’t like – makes things big and memory hungry, and can lead to some stability problems. The real problem with RSS Owl for me, though (and someone correct me if I’ve misunderstood it), is that it’s only an online reader – it doesn’t cache the feeds locally. The reason I want a local reader rather than just using something like Bloglines, is that I want everything available to read offline (I still use dial-up – it’s a lot faster to read feeds when they’re all stored locally).

    Sage really doesn’t do the job – it marks groups as read as soon as you’ve clicked on them once, even if you’ve not actually *read* anything in them, and it will only list things in the ‘newspaper’ view as newest first. Sometimes new posts don’t make sense until you’ve read previous ones, so this is a bit of a pet hate for me. It’s also not been updated in quite a while.

    I tried WizzRSS, but really didn’t like it.

    At the moment, like Markus, I’m using BlogBridge. It’s Java, but once it’s loaded, it doesn’t seem too slow. It gives me lots of options, too, so I can group feeds together into ‘guides’ (folders), and set things to show only unread items, listed oldest first, and mark them as read when they’ve been highlighted for a second. Then just tapping the space bar will work through a feed one item at a time. I’m finding it a good way of getting through a lot of reading.

    I’d really prefer something native rather than Java, I’d prefer folders and subfolders rather than the slightly odd ‘guides’ system for arranging things, and I’d happily do without the online service and ‘Starz’ rating system, but it’s the only reader I’ve found that lets me get through plenty of feeds locally, quite quickly, and works on Windows, MacOS and Linux.

  8. I am using BlogBridge on W2K with Java. I think Chris pointed me to it and I am very satisfied. I would recommend to try it with Linux.

    I have the FF extension WizzRSS installed but deactivated. No special reason for that. It’s just that I am satisfied with BlogBridge.

    Very interesting is the online service from It offers a very nice and fast website integration of RSS feeds. You can also feed OPML and have a nice basic online RSS aggregation.

  9. RSSOwl sccreenshots look pretty good, im guessing that’s Java based?

    Blam has a seriously long list of dependencies, including Mozilla which seems a bit odd?

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