Open source RSS readers you can install on your server

The shuttering of Google Reader did a lot to wake up the up-until-then quite stagnant area of RSS reader applications. I’ve written before about the various online service that sprung up to replace it. When it comes to my own use of RSS, I’ve decided to forgo the comfort of using an online service for the security of knowing that a service I run myself will never be shut down without my say-so.

Here is a list of several Open Source web-based RSS readers that you can install on your own server or in an application hosting service such as OpenShift (OpenShift in particular, offers a free account which is perfect for personal use).

Tiny Tiny RSS ScreenshotTiny Tiny RSS

Pros:

  • Minimal look and feel, very similar to Google Reader.
  • Written in PHP so can run on just about every hosting service (You do need one that lets you run background ‘cron’ jobs, or you wouldn’t be able to get feed updates without having your browser open).
  • Multiple mobile clients available.
  • Large user community.

Cons:

  • Written in PHP and with a messy code base, vulnerabilities are certainly lurking inside.
  • Can end up running very slow if your hosting provider is skimpy with CPU resources.

This is the reader I ended up using. It runs very well on my free OpenShift account despite the messy code, and I even sent some patches upstream to make it better fit my needs. It seems that it had got so popular on OpenShift, that OpenShift now includes an option to bring up a TT-RSS instance with a single click.

KrISS Feed ScreenshotKrISS Feed

Pros:

  • Very easy to install no need for even a database.
  • Like TT-RSS, written in PHP so can run everywhere.
  • Code looks better (Then TT-RSS) at first glance.
  • Works even without JavaScript enabled (It took me a while to figure out I still had NoScript enabled).

Cons:

  • UI Looks messier that TT-RSS (Might be solved with skins, several are available).
  • To read a post you need to click on a “+” button on the right-hand side, clicking on the title takes you to the post on the original website.
  • The project seems dead – the last commit on GitHub was made a few months ago.

Go Read ScreenshotGo Read

This project actually provides both an Open Source server software you can install on your own as well as a paid-for online service you can sign up to.

Pros:

  • Built for the ground up to look and feel exactly like Google Reader. And it does.
  • Built with the Go language, Angular.JS and Bootstrap. All of which are quite new and very advanced technologies. This indicated a very good code base.
  • Programs written in ‘Go’ can be much more fast and efficient then ones written in PHP.

Cons:

  • Go hosting can be harder to find then PHP hosting.
  • Installation process may be more complicated.
  • I’ve reason to suspect this application might actually require Google App Engine.
  • Licensing terms are not very clear, the site says that setting up your own server is ‘free for a few hundred feeds’ (E.g. indicating it may not be free beyond a certain amount). However the ‘LICENSE’ text file accompanying the source code seems like a run-of-the-mill BSD-style license.

I may end up trying out this application. It may be interesting to try to get it to run on OpenShift.

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