Goodbye, Google Reader; Hello, Tiny Tiny RSS!

Posted on 24 June 2013 by jose

With Google Reader's impending retirement, I found myself needing to find an alternative for my RSS aggregation/reading needs. I did a lot of research and tried a few web-based replacements (Feedly, Commafeed, Newsblur), but I found that the heavy load of other transitioning users made those services slow to update, especially when I could compare them to my still-live Google Reader view.

When I thought about how important my RSS feeds are to me, I eventually decided that my solution would have to be self-hosted, and preferably web-based for easy access from all my devices. to self-host my own solution. I thus needed something lightweight and easy to administer that was nevertheless could keep up with my feeds (I follow over 100 feeds; no wonder I have trouble keeping my browser tabs under control!).

I looked at Newsblur and Commafeed's self-hosted option, as these are lovely applications whose source is freely available at Github, but installation hurdles I could not easily and quickly clear eventually ruled these out, especially as I wanted to have at least a week to transition off of Google Reader.

Instead, I went with Tiny Tiny RSS. It's lightweight, it has a nice plugin architecture, it's themeable, I can import my Google Reader feeds/favorites, and it has keyboard shortcuts. I've read reviews talking about how slow it is, but running on my relatively low-power server, I find it to be more responsive that Google Reader (damning with faint praise, perhaps, but Google Reader is where I'm coming from, and with the heavy load NewsBlur and Commafeed were experiencing, so far this is the fastest RSS experiencing I've enjoyed short of installing a local client on my machine, and that's definitely not happening).

After taking the time to familiarize myself with the installation instructions, I decided to live dangerously and clone the Git trunk right into my server (there are reasons). After creating a DB, reading through the configuration options, setting up my config file, and setting up the app, I must say I'm very pleased. The most difficult part was setting up the update daemon on my server; a few man pages and sample scripts later and I feel I've got a very stable application for my RSS reading needs.

I may eventually revisit NewsBlur, as I greatly enjoyed the interface and there are a number of people who are looking into single-server or dual-headed server configuration, but it would likely be as a means of comparison against TT-RSS, and not Google Reader, and I'm curious as to what performance gains can be had if I continue to run MySQL on the backend but with the addition of a local MongoDB and task server. For now, however, I'm quite happy with my decision, and I expect to continue to use TT-RSS for a long time.

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