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Recently I’ve been working on trying to use less social media as I’m working on trying to be more focused on more important tasks and also to save my sanity. A problem arose, turns out I use social medial as an aggregate for news and blogs that I care about. I needed a way to keep updated more efficiently also not to rely on social media or email newsletters. This is where the fantastic Newsboat comes in.

RSS Readers and Modern Issues

If your not familiar with an RSS reader, it is a creation of the early web that is still prominently used to this day. It is a standardized way to receive updates from websites and also the main delivery method for podcasts.

I’ve been trying use RSS Readers to keep organized but a lot of modern RSS readers are in my opinion, horrendous. They are too focused on some UX that I have no idea what they are trying to accomplish. I was always left feeling that the RSS Readers are too noisy and unusable to what I’m trying to use it for.

The Advent of Newsboat

I forgot how I came into awareness of Newsboat, I’m sure it was from a blog or a video,but it definitely ticked all the boxes I wanted in an RSS reader.

  • Easy to use
  • Not dependent on a web frontend and not cloud-based
  • Minimalist
  • CLI focused
  • Easy to incorporate into scripts

Newsboat has now become a part of my daily routine and I can quickly catch up with all my sites and blogs without leaving the terminal.

If you have been reading the Newboat site the requirements, you may have noticed that this is a Linux only package, what if you are using Windows? Well, your in luck, using WSL You can install Newsboat like any ol' regular Linux distro package.

Quick Rundown of using Newsboat

The Newsboat site does have some good documentation but I would still like to show how I normally use Newsboat.

When you install Newsboat it will create a new directory at ~/.newsboat there is a file called urls, this is where you put each RSS URL you want to follow in here, one line per entry.

You can write a custom config file for Newsboat to use, you can name it whatever it doesn’t need a specific file type either. I have mine saved as newsboat_config all the config file options are outlined on the docs. Now Newsboat wont automatically use the config file every time you launch it, you do have to specify the config file when you run it, example : newsboat -C ~/.newsboat/newsboat_config It would be wise to set this as an alias on your .bashrc or .zshrc. below is my alias

alias newsboat='newsboat -C ~/.newsboat/newsboat_config'

As an example config file, below is my config file if you do amass a large list of URLs, I do highly recommend upping the reload-threads, this will make a significant difference in speed when pulling the articles.

auto-reload yes
download-retries 4
error-log ~/.newsboat/error.log
keep-articles-days 90
notify-xterm yes
refresh-on-startup yes
reload-threads 6
save-path ~/saved_articles

# srcery newsboat

# interface colors {{{

color info              color15 color235 bold
color listfocus         color10 color237
color listfocus_unread  color9  color237
color listnormal        color7  default
color listnormal_unread color15 default

# }}}

Closing thoughts

I do plan on making another blog on how to make a script that shoots out articles daily as a Teams webhook, as it turns out I am now using Newsboat for my job to aggregate security news. But I wanted to introduce the beauty of Newsboat first before I release that.

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to email me.