I've been looking for the "perfect" RSS reading solution for a while and I just got this idea for a setup that has to be about 98% of all I'm looking for.
The things I'm looking for are:
Emacs interface. This isn't that big a problem since anything with
an API can be made to have such an interface, and I feel comfortable
enough with Emacs Lisp to write it myself if I have to, like I was
doing with avandu, but then it does need a(n/ good) API.
Unbound to a single computer. It's a hassle to have to remember
what you have and haven't read. If it was easy your RSS reader
wouldn't care about (un)read items, everything would just be
"items". So sharing that state between computers is pretty
A server. Something that keeps running 24/7. Or at least the
closest possible approximation of that. It's no good to miss
everything that happens between 11pm and 9am just because you don't
have your feed reader running. Of course this is only a problem if
you're following some high-traffic feeds, but they exist too.
Runs locally. The nice thing about having shell access to a server
somewhere that someone else keeps online for you is the possibility
to run something like newsbeuter and just (de/reat)tach from
whichever computer you're working on. The downside is, though, that
this breaks pretty much all integration with your desktop. Opening
URLs becomes a reliance on your terminal emulator's ability to parse
and open them. Viewing media such as images, or audio files from a
podcast, turns into
Save, Transfer, Openinstead of just the
Handles big feed lists. Even if you only read five feeds, the day
may come you'll be reading fifty, or even much more. A piece of
software that handles this well is a must. This is the problem I
had with canto and Emacs' newsticker. canto looked awesome, the
most interesting interface to RSS feeds I have come across so far,
but back when I tried it trying to read my collection of feeds would
lock-up my computer. newsticker would lock-up my emacs session for
Now though I have found something that does it all. It is actually a twist on something I used some time ago.
Gwene is an awesome service that turns RSS feeds into newsgroups. unison is an awesome piece of software for synchronising files between different computers. Gnus is a real newsreader. Emacs is what Gnus runs on.
So it's kind-of like cheating. Gnus is not unbound to a single
computer and Gwene doesn't offer server-side state tracking either.
But because Gnus uses a single file to store state about all of its
subscribed groups, this makes it a good candidate for sharing that one
file. This is not something unique to Gnus, at least slrn uses the
same kind of file, the
.newsrc file (or in Gnus' case
So I register the feeds I want to follow with Gwene, if they aren't
already registered. I subscribe to the resulting newsgroups on
news.gwene.org with Gnus and when I switch over to another computer I
use unison to synchronise the
An example configuration of Gnus could just be as simple as:
(setq gnus-select-method '(nntp "news.gwene.org"))
unison just needs:
root=/your/home/dir/ root=/your/server/root/ path=.newsrc.eld
And that's about it.
Now it's still not 100% perfect. I've seen that Gwene can't handle 100% of the feeds I throw at it, but these can be fixed either by contacting the people publishing them or by improving Gwene's parser. It also doesn't automatically check periodicaly, though I think Gnus can be set-up to do that, but since I also use it to read my mail (again) that's not really an issue. It also isn't accessible without Emacs, Gnus and Unison, but I hate web-interfaces anyway.
So that's it. My 98% perfect RSS reading solution.