Linux console RSS reader Snownews

5 Lug/09

I read a lot of news. One of the many ways I read news is via RSS feeds. If you don’t know, RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. What an RSS reader does is collect summaries of news feeds from your favorite sites and places them in a simple, easy to read format. Most RSS readers are graphical applications such as Sage for Firefox, Straw for the GNOME desktop, or Akregator for the KDE desktop. But did you know there is a console-based RSS reader? There is and it’s called Snownews.

You may think the console isn’t a good place for RSS feeds, but it is. Using Snownews is fast, reliable, easy to use, and has a tiny footprint.

You probably have already noticed that ghacks has a few RSS feeds of its own. We’ll use those feeds to illustrate how to use Snownews. But first we must install Snownews. Fortunately this is a simple task. You can install from either your Add/Remove utility (do a search for snownews, select the results, and click apply) or you can install from the command line like so:

sudo apt-get install snownews


yum install snownews

Once installed just issue the command snownews from the prompt and you will see what looks like an empty window with the version number of Snownews near the top. Naturally Snownews won’t do you any good until you add a feed. Let’s see how this is done.

Adding a feed

In the main window, if you hit the “h” key (no quotes) you will get the Help window. This window will give you all of the keys you need to do your work. Here are the most important:

  • a – Add a feed.
  • D – Delete a feed.
  • c – Rename a feed.
  • R – Reload all feeds.
  • r – Reload selected feed.
  • m – Mark all feeds read.
  • B – Change defalt browser.
Figure 1

Figure 1

There are more keys, but those are really the most important keys you wil need to know. So from the main window press the “a” key to add a feed. What you will see is a bar going across the screen. All you need to do is type (or paste) the feed URL into this space and hit enter. Figure 1 shows where the feed URL is entered. As you can see the ghacks Linux feed is being entered.

Once you enter the feed URL hit enter and the feed will be added. What Snownews has to do is download the feed to the cache.

Once the feed is added you will see the feed listed in the main window. To see the stories listed select the feed and hit enter.

Reading stories from a feed

Figure 2

Figure 2

From within the story reader window you will see the entire listing of stories from the feed your are viewing. To view a particular story use the up or down arrows to move to the story and then hit the Enter key. The story summary will be displayed in the same window.

In order to read the entire story you have to have a browser configured for Snownews. I tend to like to contain Snownews within the terminal window, so I will use Lynx. To configure Lynx as the browser go back to the main window (press “q”) and press “B”. In the browser configuration window you simply need to enter “lynx %s” (no quotes) to set Snownews up to use Lynx as your browser.

Now to read a full story do the following:

Go back to the story listing in the feed

Select a story and hit Enter.

In the story window hit “o” (no quotes).

The story will now open in the Lynx browser. To exit the browser hit “q” (no quotes) and you will return to Snownews.

Final thoughts

Snownews is an outstanding alternative RSS reader for anyone who prefers to do things from the console window. Give it a try and you will find it to be as easy as any of the GUI alternatives.

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