The Google Giveth


Arguably the most popular "alternative" to Google Reader is Feedly. In a slightly ironic twist, Feedly uses Google Reader as its back-end API for keeping your RSS feeds in sync across devices. Feedly was designed as a front end to Google Reader, but from a user's perspective, it's an alternative. The Feedly folks have announced they will be transitioning users seamlessly from the Google Reader back end to whatever their new platform will be. It's still a testament to how much people (even companies) depend on free services to remain available.

Feedly takes a far more visual approach to RSS feeds, and by default, it presents a magazine-like view of Web stories. (See the Feedly Android client in Figure 2.) Some people really like this, and it seems to be a trend for RSS readers of late. Personally, I find it annoying, but I can see the appeal. Feedly is free, but it soon will be offering a "pro" version that supports off-line browsing.

Figure 2. Feedly has many cross-platform clients, plus it works on the Web.

The Old Reader:

If the new flipboard/magazine look offends your very being, another on-line alternative to Reader is The Old Reader. I suspect it's not a coincidence that the interface to The Old Reader looks almost identical to how Google Reader looked in the old days (Figure 3). It appears to be completely free, which I'd normally consider a good thing, but thanks to Google, I'm gun-shy about such things now. Nonetheless, The Old Reader can import your Google Reader feeds, and it functions almost exactly like the Google Reader of old (with at least one major exception, which I discuss later).

Figure 3. The Old Reader looks like, well, The Old Google Reader!

The Old Reader doesn't import Google Reader subscriptions automatically, but it does allow the import of a subscription file in the format Google provides. Because The Old Reader doesn't use Google Reader as its back end, the demise of the latter shouldn't affect the former. It is possible that the mass exodus of Google Reader users will have an adverse affect on performance, but hopefully that can be overcome.


NewsBlur is an interesting contender for "Google Reader Replacement". It is a fully open-source program, but the service provided from offers a very restricted "free" offering. I want to like NewsBlur, especially based on its open nature, but the free offering is so limited (it limits the number of feeds you can add), it's hard to test it long enough to justify the subscription fee. Like Feedly, NewsBlur offers a more "exciting" interface for browsing your feed (Figure 4). If you prefer that sort of look, NewsBlur is worth checking out. The open-source reality of NewsBlur brings me to the next and final section.

Figure 4. NewsBlur has a great interface, there's no denying it.


Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.


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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.


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, 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.