Tag Archives: news

raggle: Yesteryear’s newsreader

I can’t be sure, but I think raggle was one of the first console-driven newsreaders I test-drove, almost seven years ago.

Unfortunately, the years between the final 2005 release and now have not been kind.


You have to look close, but raggle has run aground on an issue or two that, while I would be honored to try, I doubt I could do much to fix.

That’s the AUR version, by the way, which is abandoned. Unfortunately, if raggle was ever in Debian, it has since disappeared. The list of ignominies goes on.

I guess raggle’s denouement is nothing new though; I made a note in 2009 that said it didn’t work anymore, in spite of past successes. I probably should have listed it among the crippled and broken things at the end of the section.

So I hope you’ll forgive me if I list it in a spotlight one last time. Perhaps some talented coder will see it and take pity, and give it a new home. … 😥

olive: A “totally sweet” newsreader is right

The startup screen for olive calls it “a totally sweet newsfeeder,” and I’m totally in favor of that sweet subtitle.


Menu-driven, lots of colors, onboard help screens, scrollbars on the sides, a popup options menu, plenty of on-screen information, intuitive and obvious controls … the list goes on.

I’m not an expert on console news feed readers, but I can’t seem to find anything negative to say about olive.

Except that it seems to have escaped the attention of the Arch Linux crew, because it’s not in Arch or AUR, as best I can see.

And that might be the most surprising thing. For as many tiled window manager screenshots as adorn the forums, and as many of those have some rendition of a text-only news reader, you’d think olive would be among them.

To complicate things, the home page for olive — in case you didn’t click on the link up there yet — is apparently dead. 😐

Debian to the rescue, as happens so often. You’d think that would be enough to get me started, but I’m a bit timid about trying to build it myself from Debian’s framework.

It carries a lot of dependencies, if aptitude is to be believed, and I’m short on the time it would take to sort them all out, and make the jump to Arch.

All that, lumped together, means I will probably stick to olive on machines that run Debian. That is, of course, if I ever feel a need for a news reader at all. 😕

nrss: Reaching back through the years

If you click here in hopes of seeing the nrss home page, you might be a little disappointed. It seems that nrss was superseded by canto, a similar-minded newsreader.


Come to think of it, for as long as I can remember, nrss played second fiddle to canto. And that may be as the developer intended.

Either way, I don’t remember much about how nrss worked, and might not ever, since the version I built in Arch segfaulted at any keypress.

So beyond opening the initial screen and watching it auto-refresh, nrss wouldn’t do much for me. Of course, if it’s prepackaged in your distro, you’ll probably have better luck.

A note on configuration: There’s a folder marked “feeds” inside ~/.nrss/ but nrss only worked if I put this line inside ~/.nrss/config:

add "http://feeds.bbci.co.uk/news/rss.xml" "BBC Top Stories"

It may be that there is a better way to configure nrss, but it might be late to figure it out.

Between the two, nrss or canto, you can decide which you prefer. I don’t use news readers much, and don’t really see a difference between them.

If you use them and need certain features, see if nrss has them.

mutt: Miracle of miracles

Well, this is a first.


For years now — no, not years. For nearly a decade I’ve been yapping like a wiener dog on espresso about how I can never get GMail set up with mutt, and how I stick with alpine just because it works for me. I guess I don’t have that excuse any more.

It’ll take me a little while to get used to the arrangement, but so far so good. It’s quite speedy, I’ll give it that.

If you have any advice on getting it to work with multiple accounts (most from the same provider), I’d be happy to hear it. I can run that through DuckDuckGo though, and probably get an answer later today.

And now, let it be said that K.Mandla has finally gotten mutt to work. All credit goes to a cut-and-paste configuration on Linux and Life. Cheers. And sorry about the wiener dog yapping. 😉

P.S.: I did mention that if I found a better e-mail client I would jump ship. I stand by that. … 👿

hdlns: It’s the simple tools that impress most

While Peter was helping me get heirloom-mailx running, he also pointed out a script called hdlns that is well worth checking out.


hdlns — I’m guessing it’s pronounced “headlines” — scrapes the UK, US or international editions of the BBC News for major stories, then gives a quick blurb and a link, if you want.

Very neatly arranged, nicely presented with enough options to be functional without suffering from feature creep. And if you’re not a huge RSS user — like me — this is preferable to installing an entire application to get a note or two about world events.

My only complaint would be that there seems no way to adjust the output to fill the terminal space. As you can see, I could include quite a few more entries if the entire width of the screen were used.

A minor point, and not one worth wringing my hands over.

And really, if you’re at all talented at coding, you might want to take a look at the guts of hdlns. I don’t know proper code from lorem ipsum, but the inside of hdlns has the look of a finely tuned automobile. 😯

Simple tools like this are well worth keeping around. 😉

P.S.: Arch users might need to install par to get this to run. Other dependencies are listed in the script comments; I only needed to install that one to get it working.

heirloom-mailx: Perhaps it’s time for a change

I got a lot of help from Peter while setting up heirloom-mailx, and it might have made the difference for me. I find that I enjoy this quite a bit.


I’m still working out all the small details, but so far I can check mail out of a GMail account, reply, sort and so forth. I’m definitely not an expert, but I’m working on it.

I use alpine usually, and this has a few small advantages over alpine that I can see off the bat.

One-file configuration was nice. alpine has a massive list of options that can sometimes obscure things for me, even after years of digging around in it.

As you might imagine, heirloom-mailx is quite light, and quite quick. On the other hand, it’s very terse, and expects you to know what you’re doing.

I do like that it sends most everything into your $PAGER, for reading or displaying messages. And the man page is nothing if not replete — it even has a narrative near the end, stepping you through processes.

The funny part of this is, I can remember for years now, seeing heirloom-mailx as part of default installations (usually Arch). Never tried it.

Glad I did. And thanks again to Peter, for his help. Cheers! 😀

P.S.: I’m going to share the sites that Peter linked for me, that helped with a GMail setup. …
Good luck!

alpine: Not the best, not the worst

Out of the vast sea of Linux mail clients, for some forgotten reason I have latched on to alpine.


Or re-alpine, as I should say, since the Arch version has moved to a rebranded version. (That was a joke. Get it? 🙄 )

Why do I insist on using such a (comparatively) heavy, over-featureful, rather obtuse mail and news reader to check my meager four or five GMail accounts once a day?

I really don’t know.

Well, that’s not true. I do know. I stick with alpine — ahem, re-alpine for two or three quick reasons.

  1. It was fairly easy to figure out, for setting up rules and patterns.
  2. It worked on the first try for me.
  3. I’ve got most of the configurations saved from three or four years ago, and it’s just easier this way.

Oh, that last one is a terrible reason. Skip that one.

Truth be told, I feel no allegiance to alpine. It worked when mutt didn’t, five years ago when I was eager to find something to check my email without requiring a mouse.

I keep tabs on other clients — mutt, sup, cone, elmo. When a better one comes along, I’ll jump ship. I am like that sometimes. 😐

canto: A practical newsreader

Those last two posts were a bit esoteric. Un-html’ing things is a discrete — no, a niche application, at best.

Meaning … they’re useful tools to have around, but they don’t appeal to a very wide audience.

Here’s something with a little wider allure: canto.


I mentioned newsbeuter a few months ago, and snownews a little after that.

Canto is on my list as an alternate. Controls are a little unusual — left and right keys toggle read/unread; space opens a link for reading — but just press “h” and the man page springs into view.

I gotta admit, I like applications that refer you to their own man page when you ask for help.

And even better, I like applications that use boxes and colors. I know, I’m superficial. Everyone says so. 😦

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I don’t use enough newsreaders to know a good one from a rotten one.

So it might be that canto is completely unacceptable to you. I won’t take it personally.

After all, you could say that about any program I mention, right? 😉

P.S. No. 1: As requested, a warning that this is python-based.
P.S. No. 2: Take a little time to dig around in the configuration. What you see above is only a scratch on the surface of canto.
P.S. No. 3: Version 0.7.10 shown, version 8.x is on sale! Everybody loves a recent update! 😉

snownews: Simple and straightforward

I don’t go in for newsreaders much; I mentioned that a few weeks ago, when I talked about newsbeuter.

snownews is one I would recommend though, just for being very straightforward.


Add feeds with the “a” key. Refresh with the “r.” Help screen with “h.” Enter to read. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

snownews looks like an e-mail reader and has a folder structure to it. If you’ve used any text-based e-mail clients or even some file managers, this will be easy.

I’ve been over Snownews before, so I won’t bore you with too much repetition.

Again, newsreaders aren’t my style, but if they are yours, snownews is worth looking over.

newsbeuter: A simple and clean news reader

I don’t have much experience with news readers, so I really can’t tell a good one from a poor one.

They are fun to tinker with, for a few minutes anyway. Beyond that I usually lose interest and they gather metaphorical dust somewhere in my system.

If you’ve had a different experience though, you might find newsbeuter interesting.

2013-03-18-solo-2150-newsbeuter-01 2013-03-18-solo-2150-newsbeuter-02

It’s incredibly easy to set up — just paste feed URLs into a configuration file and start it up. From there, most of the controls are listed on-screen.

Again, I don’t know a good feed reader from a bad one, so maybe it’s not worth the effort … as little as that is.

On the other hand, some folks take newsbeuter quite seriously, and given the impending departure of Google Reader, it might be worth making a transition.

But you can decide. It might be easy to set up newsbeuter and it might take over all your Google Reader responsibilities, but there may be something better out there.