The Google Giveth

And the Google taketh away. So it is with Google Reader. A while back, Google discontinued its Google Wave product, because it never gained traction as a social-media platform. This surprised approximately zero people. More recently, Google announced it would be closing Google Reader on July 1, 2013. Far more people were surprised, myself included. In this article, I want to explore some options for those left in the lurch.

Those Clouds Look Ominous

I think even more interesting than Google eliminating Google Reader is the collateral damage it's doing to cloud computing in general. Reader is something I've used for years, depended on in fact, to keep up with the Web sites I find interesting. Google Reader is a program I'd happily pay for, but since it's free, I've always just counted my blessings and moved on. Now that it's disappearing, my dependence on free and/or cloud-based services is weighing heavily on me. Today it's Google Reader; will tomorrow be the end of Dropbox? Flickr? Google Mail?

Since Google's announcement regarding the demise of Reader, I've visited SourceForge and Github more frequently than I have in years. I don't like Google being able to affect my day-to-day computing so dramatically on a whim, and so I've been working hard to make myself less dependent on services like Google Reader. This is the first in what I expect might be a series of articles on self-sufficiency in this cloudy new world.

Web Shmeb

The simplest way to avoid losing your cloud-based solutions is to avoid Web-based services altogether. Before the original Web applications like Bloglines and Google Reader came about, people were perfectly happy with standalone RSS readers. Many folks still use a standalone application, and if you tend to browse the Web from the same computer all the time, a standalone application might be the perfect solution.

Liferea is a Linux-native application that does a nice job of managing RSS feeds. Like almost every other RSS application, it syncs with Google Reader, but thankfully, it also syncs with Tiny Tiny RSS (more on Tiny Tiny RSS later). Because it has the ability to sync with a back-end database, Liferea can provide the best of both worlds—namely, a local application for browsing RSS feeds, plus syncing with a common back end for reading on other devices and computers. Liferea has a simple interface, but if you want to burn through your RSS feeds, simple is good (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Liferea is simple, but that's not a bad thing.

Tons of other RSS clients work very well under Linux—Akregator, Thunderbird, RSSOwl and many others. I specifically mention Liferea because of its ability to sync with Tiny Tiny RSS, but plenty of perfectly usable RSS readers are available. Check apt-get or your distro's equivalent for "RSS" and you should find several.

Read RSS in Your Browser!

I know it seems like circular logic, but Web browsers can do so much more than browse Web sites. Anyone with a Chromebook can attest to how powerful a browser can be. Firefox has extensions like Sage, Brief or Simple RSS Reader. I could show them all in action, but really, I just recommend going to http://addons.mozilla.org and searching for "RSS". See which ones look appealing, and give them a try!

If you fall on the Google Chrome (or Chromium) side of the fence, there are plenty of Chrome extensions for RSS feed-reading as well. Slick RSS, Feed Reader and several others exist. Google also supplies the RSS Subscription Extension, which allows you to add feeds to your Web-based subscription service directly from the Web site you'd like to add. It recently removed Google Reader as a destination, which makes sense, but other options are available, which leads me to the next possibility.

Third Cloud to the Right

Before I talk about hosting your own solution, I think it's only fair to discuss a few other options available from third parties. Even in light of Google shutting down its much-beloved Reader Application, as long as you keep your eyes wide open, there's nothing wrong with using on-line services—just be ready for them to disappear.

______________________

Shawn Powers is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal. You might find him chatting on the IRC channel, or Twitter

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Google Reader

Lala Sana's picture

What would be seamless would be a ‘patent acquisition’ of sorts where
a 2nd party acquires the rights to the Google Reader to keep it going and
be free to morph it with upgrades as seem fitting.

I have never heard of this

buxle's picture

I have never heard of this Google product before.

google

rentalmobil's picture

no wonder google will shut down igoogle,so that they will come with other app rental mobil

Services that go away...

Jon Daley's picture

I had signed up for theoldreader.com, but it did get overwhelmed by the number of users who still use RSS, and are shutting it down in a couple weeks. So, I'm also wondering about hosting my own. I am not interested in an app that runs on one computer, since it needs to sync wherever I am. I'll have to see if TinyRss and LifeArea do the trick.

I am here on the linuxjournal site because linux journal shut down its paper version just after I renewed my subscription (pretty annoying that there was no mention of this when I renewed, and they refused to give me my money back).

I've tried to keep up with online versions, via PDF, Android app, and Kindle app, but they are so much harder than the paper version, in terms of can't bookmark, can't keep track of my progress through the document, can't share it with others, etc, etc. I've not managed to read more than an issue or two since it switched, so have decided to not renew this August.

But, I'll download all of the PDFs now in case I ever manage to read them.

I've also just been wondering about what it would cost to send them to a print shop to have them printed out.

In England you would have the

David Russell's picture

In England you would have the right to cancel your subscription and receive a refund, in proportion to the number of printed editions you didn't receive.
LJ should have made a better job of the transition period from paper to pdf.
Not much different from if you booked theatre tickets and were sent a DVD instead.

Owncloud 5

Anonymous's picture

The Owncloud software is quite nice with its news reader, cloud storage, document editing, music streaming. It took me ten minutes to get it installed and I use it from every device I own.

What about Digg Reader?

Bruno Alexandre Blank Cassol's picture

Why no mention of Digg Reader? It is just excellent!

I tried all the cloud solutions mentioned in the article. But settled with Digg's Reader because of simplicity and responsive interface. It already have an iOS app and Android should be coming soon.

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