Geek

How To Use Command Line Newsboat RSS Feed Reader On Linux?


Do you use a news aggregator (also termed as RSS feed reader) app? Is it still your go-to place for all the latest updates from different sources?

If so, Newsboat is a lightweight, keyboard-driven, and command-line feed reader that you should check out right now.

Suppose you’re already familiar with the existing feed reader Newsbeuter, which isn’t maintained consistently. I guess Newsboat would be the right replacement with regular maintenance.

What is Newsboat RSS Reader?

Newsboat is a TUI (terminal user interface) based RSS reader app that functions on UNIX-like operating systems such as FreeBSD, GNU/Linux, and macOS.

Unlike other popular web-based feed reader app with a freemium model, Newsboat is a completely free-to-use and open-source app. This also means that you can add as many sources as you want.

If you’re currently using another feed reader and wish to shift to Newsboat, this app would let you integrate with other services like NewsBlur, Tiny Tiny RSS, and FeedHQ.

Here are the key features:

  • Powerful built-in HTML renderer
  • Send links and whole articles to third-party services using bookmarking scripts
  • Filter system based on title, author, contents, and other
  • Rudimentary podcast support
  • Configurable keyboard shortcuts
  • Flexible tagging system
  • Import and export using OPML format

How To Download And Install Newsboat?

The pre-built binaries of Newsboat are already available in the primary repository of various Linux distribution. You can check out the non-exclusive list of repositories here.

$ sudo apt install newsboat # Debian and Ubuntu-based distros

$ sudo dnf isntall newsboat # Fedora

$ sudo pacman -S newsboat # Arch Linux

If you could not find the binaries of Newsboat for your Linux distribution, you can also install its Snap packages from Ubuntu’s distribution-independent Snap Store.

$ sudo snap install newsboat

You can also get Newsboat by first installing its dependencies and building the app from source code.

How To Set Up And Use Newsboat?

Once you install Newsboat and try to open it in the terminal, you will find below the “no URLs configured” error.

No URLs configured

You cannot start Newsboat without configuring feeds i.e. adding at least a source URL in ~/.newsboat/urls. configuration file.

Add Feeds Or URLs

To view feeds in the terminal or start Newsboat, you first need to create a config file “~/.newsboat/urls” (if you don’t have it) and then manually add URLs by opening the file in a text editor.

Add URLs

Import Feeds Using OPML

If you already have OPML file containing all feeds URLs, you can also use it to load feeds to Newsboat using command:

$ newsboat -i </path/to/opml/file/dummy.opml>

Refresh The Feeds

After adding feeds, you can now start by just typing newsboat in a terminal, and you’ll see the sources you added to your config file.

Open Newsboat

As you open Newsboat, you may not get all the latest feeds as you can see the count shows 0 out of 0. So to load new feeds, you can either press r by focussing on the source URL or just open Newsboat with the option -r.

newsboat -r
Start Newsboat with new feeds

Navigation

Being keyboard-driven, you need to use only keys to navigate around sources and articles. You can press Enter to select a particular news source and list all its feeds.

List of all feeds

To go down the list, you can either press the down arrow or n. And to read an article, you can further press Enter. Now, to go back one step back, you need to press q.

Similarly, you can see below in the blue stip, shortcuts are given to mark all read using A, Search using / and ? for listing all available shortcuts.

Newsboat Help

Add Tags

Tagging is a way to categorize feeds. For instance, you may group all Linux new sources into one group and sports news sources into other.

So, to assign a tag to an RSS feed, you need to attach a single word separated from URLs by blanks. If the word contains spaces, you can use quotes around the tag.

https://www.reddit.com/r/opensource/.rss  "open source"
 https://www.reddit.com/r/linux/.rss  linux
 http://feeds.bbci.co.uk/news/world/rss.xml  "world news

You can now open Newsboat with this new configuration and press't' to list all tags available. Select a tag, and it will list sources that contain the selected tags.

Tags

Give Feed A Custom Name

After you add a feed, it gets a default name. But if you want to change the tag name, you need to prefix the tag name with ~ character.

https://www.reddit.com/r/linux/.rss  "~Linux News From Reddit"
Custom tag name

Hide A Feed

If you want any feed to be not shown in the regular list of feeds, you can prefix the tag name with an !

https://fossbytes.com/tag/linux/feed/  "!Fossbytes"
Hide source

Want to know more about the new reader’s configuration? Read the official documentation to get the complete information.

Published by
Sarvottam Kumar