The Google Giveth

Make Your Own Cloud

Although I'm not quite ready to abandon Gmail and host my own e-mail again, I have to admit I've been researching my options ever since the announcement of Google Reader's demise. For my RSS needs, however, I've decided to host my own Web-based RSS reader. Google Reader going away really disrupts my lifestyle, and I want to make sure I'm not setting myself up for failure by choosing another third-party service.

My first attempt at replacing Google Reader was to install my own copy of NewsBlur. It's a little more glitzy than I like, but it's open source. I fired up my Web-hosting service and created a new site for hosting NewsBlur—and then spent hours beating my head against the wall.

Don't get me wrong, NewsBlur is indeed open source. The code is freely available from Github. There are installation instructions, but it's still fairly difficult to install. I understand developers not devoting a ton of time holding people's virtual hands for an end result that would cut directly into their bottom line (NewsBlur is a commercial service after all). Still, if you're thinking you just need a simple LAMP stack, you'll be very surprised.

NewsBlur depends on Django, Celery, RabbitMQ, MongoDB, Pymongo, Fabric, jQuery, PostgreSQL or MySQL, and tons of configuration to get it running. I'm not saying the program is poorly designed. I'm saying that I'm lazy, and installations like WordPress have spoiled me. If you're adventurous enough, installing your own instance of NewsBlur may be very rewarding. I prefer something simpler if I need to maintain it, however. Enter: Tiny Tiny RSS.

Tiny Tiny RSS:

Like the name implies, Tiny Tiny RSS is small. It's a PHP application that requires a back-end MySQL database and nothing else. It literally took less than five minutes for me to install and configure Tiny Tiny RSS on my Web server (Figure 5).

Figure 5. Tiny Tiny RSS is tiny, and it interfaces with plugins and clients alike.

Tiny Tiny RSS reminds me more of a standalone RSS reader like Liferea than a Web-based program, but when you start exploring its plugins and addons, you might wonder why you've been using Google Reader all this time! If you recall at the beginning of this article, I mentioned that Liferea would sync with Tiny Tiny RSS. When you add the fact that it can act as a back end to standalone clients, the availability of an Android application and the countless plugins available, it's easy to fall in love with Tiny Tiny RSS. Even if you end up going with a more glitzy alternative, you owe it to yourself to give Tiny Tiny RSS a try.

Sadly, Nobody Surfs Like Me

I'm doing my best to focus on the positive side effects of Google's decision to close down Google Reader. It's forced me (and many others) to take a serious look at where I'm putting my data, plus it's forced me to think outside my little box. In all my research, however, I still haven't found a way to replicate the obscure Google Reader feature that has been my sole way to browse the Internet for a half decade—the "next unread" bookmarklet. I demonstrated the feature in a Linux Journal Tech Tip years ago:

Maybe someone will create a Tiny Tiny RSS plugin that does this for me. Maybe it will be the reason I finally learn to program on my own. Nevertheless, this seemingly simple feature is one I can't find anywhere else. If anyone has recommendations on how to replicate that feature, or if there are any Tiny Tiny RSS programmers out there looking for a weekend project, I'd love to hear about 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.