The Best Terminal-Based RSS Feed Reader for Linux

An RSS feed reader is an indispensable tool for most of us. It aggregates feeds from various websites so you can easily follow their latest updates.

Depending on how you like these updates, you can choose a graphical or CLI-based feed reader. While the former offers convenience and a ton of features, the latter brings speed and provides a seamless experience for those working from the terminal.

Newsboat is one such CLI-based feed aggregator for Linux. Let’s go to explore it in more detail.

What is Newsboat?

Newsboat is a CLI-based RSS/Atom feed reader for Linux. It’s basically a fork of Newbeuter, which was once one of the top-rated news aggregators for Linux, but is no longer maintained.

Being CLI-based, the Newsboat reader is accessible from the terminal, and it brings with it a built-in HTML rendering engine that allows you to view textual content directly in the terminal, eliminating the need to use a web browser. .


What features does Newsboat offer?

Newsboat offers the following features on Linux:

  • Integrated HTML rendering engine
  • Ability to send links and articles to third-party services using bookmarking scripts
  • Option to filter feed entries based on title, author, etc.
  • Filter options like thumbnail, author, etc.
  • Ability to import and export feeds in OPML
  • Customizable keyboard shortcuts
  • Configurability

How to Install Newsboat on Linux

Newsboat is available on several Linux distributions. Depending on the distro you are running on your machine, follow the instructions below to get Newsboat on your system:

On Ubuntu and its derivatives, open the terminal and run the following command to install Newsboat:

sudo apt install newsboat

If you are using Fedora, run:

sudo dnf install newsboat

On Arch Linux, install Newsboat with:

sudo pacman -S newsboat

In the case of any other Linux distro, you can install Newsboat using a distro-independent method, like Snap. To do this, check if your computer supports Snap by running this command in a terminal:

snap 

If you get a version number, it indicates that Snap is present and you can proceed to install Newsboat. Otherwise, follow our Snap guide to install Snap on your system first.

Once done, run the command below to install Newsboat:

sudo snap install newsboat

How to Use Newsboat on Linux

After installing Newsboat, check if it is installed correctly. As mentioned earlier, since Newsboat is a CLI-based program, all of your interactions with it will take place through the terminal.

Open the terminal and run this command:

newsboat

It will return an error saying: “no URL configured“. This error is showing because we haven’t configured the resources in Newsboat yet, so that’s what we need to do first.


1. Add feeds or URLs to Newsboat

Newsboat lets you create your own feed in two ways: you can either create an entirely new feed from scratch by adding your favorite website URLs, or import an existing feed from your previous player.

To create a new feed from scratch, you must fill in the field URLs file with all your favorite RSS websites. First, copy the RSS feed address of the website you want to add to your Newsboat feed.

Then run the following command in a terminal to open the URLs case:

sudo nano ~/.newsboat/urls

If the file is not already present, create one in the Newsboat directory and run:

sudo nano urls

When the URLs file is open, paste the feed URL you copied earlier into this file. If you want to add more feeds, copy their URLs and paste them here. Hit CTRL+O to write the changes to the file and save. Hurry CTRL+X to leave.

2. Import existing feeds with Newsboat

If you already have a feed with another RSS feed reader, you can import it into Newsboat to save the effort of manually curating the feed. To do this, access your account on the feed reader and export your feed in OPML format. After that, copy this file and move it to the home directory.

Finally, run the following command to import it:

newsboat -i feed.opml

3. Running Newsboat

Once you have configured the sources in Newsboat, open the terminal and run this command to launch Newsboat:

newsboat

Newsboat will give you a list of all your configured sources. However, these sources are not updated at this time. To do this, press R, and it will reload all sources. If you want to reload a particular stream, select it using the arrow keys and press r.

Wait for the feed to update.

Once done, select the stream to open and press Walk in to open it. Here you will see all the latest stories from this feed. To open and read one, select it and press Walk in.

If you want to view an article in a browser, tap ohand to save it press sselect the location to save and press Walk in. When you read an article and want to see the next article, use the not key.

Similarly, if an article contains multiple links, these will be listed below the article with numbers to their left. Type the number next to the link you want to open and it will open in your default browser.

Finally, to return to the preview screen, press q. This also exits Newsboat when tapped on the main Newsboat page. But if you want to quit the program from anywhere, press Q In place.

Configuring Newsboat on Linux

In its default state, Newsboat works fine. However, it offers some modifications that you can use to improve your experience.

You must save all Newsboat configurations in the configuration file in the Newsboat directory structure.

If the file is missing, you must create it. After that, depending on what you want to accomplish, modify this file accordingly.

Here are some configuration changes you might be interested in:

1. Change default browser

Although you can read most of the content of an article in the terminal, there will be times when you want to open an article in a web browser. For this reason, setting your preferred default browser is an essential step.

To do this, add the following line to the configuration case:

browser "path/to/browser %u"

2. Auto-refresh feeds on launch

Newsboat is not configured to automatically refresh feeds when you launch it. Therefore, you have to manually refresh the feed yourself. If you want to avoid it, add this line to configuration file to enable automatic refresh:

refresh-on-startup yes

Similarly, you can also update the feed periodically after some time. To do this, add this line:

reload-time desired_time_in_minutes

3. Delete read articles

Most RSS readers remove read articles from your feed to reduce clutter. But since Newsboat doesn’t do this automatically, you have to explicitly tell it to stop showing open feeds. Add the following line to configuration file to do this:

show-read-feeds no

Of course, these are just a few useful configurations, and you can consult Newsboat’s documentation to configure its behavior to your preference.

Follow your favorite blogs without missing the “boat”

If you work primarily from the terminal, you need a CLI-based feed aggregator on your PC. A good terminal-based feed reader can help you access updates from all your favorite blogs right in the terminal, eliminating the need to open another app.

Newsboat is perhaps the best feed reader in this regard. It’s fast, easy to use, configurable, and neatly organizes your favorite website feeds for easy consumption.

Similar to Newsboat, another interesting take on RSS is the TICKR feed reader, which places your feeds in a small scroll bar for easy content consumption on the go.

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