Adding more stuff to the web

Replacing Google Reader

Tags: site, tips

For years prior to its demise last year, I used Google Reader as an RSS aggregator - never really using the Reader web app itself, but instead using it to sync between my laptop (using NetNewsWire) and phone (using Reeder). It was a nice system that worked well, right up until the point that it was shut down.

I’ve always intended to switch to one of the alternatives that sprang up (The Old Reader, Feedly, InoReader etc.), but never quite got around to it. This meant that my RSS reading was done on my laptop, which in turn meant that if I didn’t use it for a few days I’d come back to hundreds of missed articles. I could have probably avoided this with some judicious unsubscribing, but again - never quite got around to it.

I’m not sure where I first heard about it, but about a month ago I heard about Tiny Tiny RSS, a free RSS reader that’s written in PHP. Once you’ve installed it on a web server, it’s just a matter of logging in (multiple accounts are supported) and importing your feeds. Since getting a server up and running and then installing TT-RSS was going to be vastly more complex than simply creating an account on of the many sites above, it appealed to me straight away. I originally hosted it here at NearlyFreeSpeech.NET, but the performance wasn’t great (my fault, not theirs). After a day or so, I stumbled on Red Hat’s OpenShift and decided that their free tier would be perfect for this experiment.

Originally, this post was supposed to be a container for all the tips I picked up - small things like getting the git repositories set up correctly, sorting out feed updates etc. It took a bit of wrangling, but after a little while I had a mostly working setup with just a few small issues. For example, every time the server restarted, the update daemon would also need restarting as I hadn’t yet made that automatic and because OpenShift doesn’t allow the PostgreSQL autovacuum command to run correctly, the database tended to grow pretty quickly. It was while I was working out how to fix these things that I found this GitHub repository which sorts out all of these little quirks. As a result, here’s a much shorter guide to setting up your own RSS reader:

  1. Create an OpenShift account.
  2. Install the OpenShift client tools
  3. Follow disconn3ct’s great README

Once the last step has finished you should be ready to login, create an account and start importing and/or subscribing to feeds. Easy!