Solving more computer issues, RSS Client edition

So way back when, when Google killed off Google Reader, I wound up flipping about a lot in search of an RSS reader solution that’d let me get the links I wanted to follow in all the places I wanted to follow them.

I finally settled on a solution that didn’t exactly satisfy me: using a Feedly account, plus two different RSS clients. I needed one RSS client to pull stuff down from Feedly, and it’s an RSS client I do like–but unfortunately it doesn’t support authenticated feeds. So I also had to install a second client to get at the feeds I wanted to read from Dreamwidth (and at least until everybody seriously bailed on LJ, LJ as well).

But I had to also keep the first client, because the second one didn’t talk to Feedly.

In other words: stupidly complicated.

(And this is also stupidly long for a post, so here’s a More/cut tag for y’all.)

I did another round of searching in the last few weeks, though. Partly because geezus gods quarantine is crazy-making and I wanted to see if I could solve this problem yet. Turns out: I can!

There were two courses of investigation I took for this.

One: see if I could finally get Tiny Tiny RSS installed so I could manage my own goddamn feeds. It’s an open source solution for exactly that. When I first looked at TT-RSS, the installation instructions for it were complicated enough that I didn’t want to bother to fuck around with them. Since that time, though, the code’s been refactored to be available as a Docker image.

And one of the things I’ve learned how to do because of day-job-related activity lately is how to use Docker.

So as a proof of concept, I pulled down their Docker Compose file onto my own laptop, to see if I could get a TT-RSS server running. This took some finessing of settings, but I did eventually get it working. I also figured out how to get one of the two local clients I had talking to the server.

The only problem with this is, Docker chewed up a lot of CPU power on my box and I could feel it becoming noticeably warmer after working extensively with feeds a lot. Plus, having the Docker instance on my laptop would not be useful for having the feeds available if I want to read them on a mobile device.

Which meant, of course, that I’d need to get Docker installed on one of our Linux servers so that my feeds could be available all the time, from my laptop or from my mobile devices.

Off I went to newmoon to try to install Docker on it! Only I could not for the life of me get Docker installed there, even though I was following the official Docker site’s own instructions for how to install Docker Engine on Linux. I bombed out at the point where I’d set up the Docker repository for apt to pull from. But as soon as I tried to do apt install docker, a whole bunch of nothing.

Poked at it a bit further and saw potential indications that docker.com might have been refusing to hand me a binary because it thinks newmoon may not be a 64-bit system. Which… is actually plausible. Dara and I thought we were running a 64-bit instance of Debian at this point, but it’s actually very possible that we’re running a 32-bit instance if the hard drive the OS is parked on was ported over from an earlier instance of the machine!

So Dara’s going to investigate making our instance of Debian properly fully 64-bit. If she gets that working I’ll revisit installing TT-RSS on Newmoon.

But in the meantime: I also discovered a recently developed RSS client for macOS and iOS called News Explorer. Which has the two biggest bits of functionality I want for RSS at this point:

  1. Authenticated feeds
  2. Ability to share data between my computer and my mobile devices

Don’t get me wrong, y’all, I like Vienna well enough. Up till now, it’s been the only macOS RSS client I’ve been able to find that actually does authenticated feeds. Plus, it’s open source, and I’m perfectly happy to use open source if it’s got the functionality I want.

Problem is, Vienna doesn’t have everything I want. It didn’t have the ability to talk to Feedly. It also doesn’t talk to Tiny Tiny RSS. And it doesn’t have a way of sharing data with mobile devices. There’s no Vienna for iOS.

Reeder, the other RSS client I’ve been using up till now, does talk to Tiny Tiny RSS, and it’s got iOS/iPadOS versions as well as macOS. But it doesn’t do authenticated feeds.

Enter News Explorer. This thing does authenticated feeds. And it shares data across iCloud between the macOS and iOS versions, if you’ve bought both of them.

Which I have, now, because while I like open source, I also am happy to pay a developer money if they’ve built a thing that does what I need it to do.

I can also say that the developer seems very on top of responding to reported issues as well. I stumbled across a crash and sent in a crash report, and we’re already discussing it in email.

News Explorer’s UI isn’t as polished as I’d like. But “actively does what I need it to do” plus “developer is paying attention” means that until I have a viable TT-RSS instance on Newmoon, my RSS issues for the moment appear to finally be solved. And I could even delete my Feedly account!

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