Read RSS feeds direct from the terminal
Linux Format|September 2021
Focus on what’s important in the world and cut out all those cat meme distractions with Neil Mohr and a terminal-based text-only news reader.
Neil Mohr

What sort of world have we created? An open internet was supposed to be a bastion of human knowledge, where we could all share our thoughts, contribute to the advancement of all human knowledge and have an occasional game of Quake. What did we get instead? Facebook and a web of endless adverts and faux top-ten buying guides.

One of the standards that grew out of the early(ish) web was RSS (Really Simple Syndication) that was originally built into Nescape Navigator in 1999. It gave websites a way to announce updated content in a minimal way. Its popularity has come and gone, but RSS has stuck around even after Google Reader was killed off and the competing ATOM standard was launched.

An RSS feed offers a distraction-free way to obtain updates from your favourite website (although not www.linuxformat.com because that’s just too advanced for us). If you combine this with the terminal then it means the latest news can be delivered directly to your favourite place to work.

We’re going to take a look at NewsBoat. It’s certainly not the only option, but it’s currently actively developed, it’s in most repos, there’s a Snap (you lot stop moaning – Ed), it offers built-in HTML rendering, advanced filters, basic podcast support and loads more.

To install Newsboat on Ubuntu and Debian, type $ sudo apt install newsboat

It’s in both distro’s repos, if you don’t mind Snaps although it would be overkill for a terminal tool, then: $ sudo snap install newsboat

If you want the latest bleeding-edge version then you can clone the Git, ensure you have all the build tools and dependencies, and then compile it from the source. Full details on how to do all that are in the online manual at https://bit.ly/lxf280newsboat.

Don’t try and run it yet. There are no default RSS feeds and it’ll kick out an error saying as much. We’ll need to create a config file using: $ nano ~/.newsboat/urls

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