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5 Modern, Free RSS Readers Worth Checking Out

In the market for an RSS reader? These open source options deserve a look.

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Overhead shot of 3D orange RSS symbol
Image © Svilen Milev

We all know that there's a lot of information on the Internet, and if you've found some blogs, news sites, or magazines that you go back to again and again, you might want to think about using an RSS reader or news aggregator. Not only will you get to the information you're interested in faster, you might just find that you finally have time to tackle that to-do list or get back in touch with friends.

There are many types of RSS readers available, but the list below covers strictly open source options. Some of them are hosted solutions, while some need to be put on your own server. Some of them are desktop-based, but others provide mobile access. No matter where they run, though, they all have nice user interfaces. We spend a lot of time on our computers and phones these days, so, in my opinion, there's no reason to choose a clunky or poorly designed piece of software.

Open Source RSS Readers and New Aggregators

All of the apps and plugins listed below are open source, and all but one are free of charge (and even it has a free option).

  • Android Rivers: Android Rivers is, as you might have guessed from the name, for Android devices only. As part of a larger open source project, the RSS reader supports RSS, ATOM, and River JS formats and downloads and plays podcasts. Designed to be fast and light, Android Rivers lets you skim headlines, grabs updates only when you choose to fetch them, and doesn't require any login information. Developed in Kotlin and released under a General Public License, Android Rivers can be downloaded from the Google Play store.

  • Firefox: Mozilla Firefox is one of the top web browsers around, and there's a good chance that you already have it installed on your computer. By default, Firefox comes with a tool called Live Bookmarks, and if you only have a few news sources that you want to pull in and you're already in Firefox throughout the day, this might be all that you need. Since this is browser-based, your feeds would be available on both your desktop and an Android device (sorry iOS users). Plus, if you sync your Firefox account, your RSS feed will be visible and up-to-date on all your matched devices. Firefox was released under a Mozilla Public License and is available for Linux, Microsoft Windows, OS X, and Android. Note: If you're not sold on using Live Bookmarks, you should check out the Sage extension for Firefox instead.

  • NewsBlur: NewsBlur is the one for-fee reader on our list, but there is a free account type, too ... it just limits your functionality. Either way, though, the service is attractive, modern, and both desktop- and mobile-friendly, and it displays your RSS feeds in real time, on the source's websites. Plus, everything is sharable, and you can even train the program so that, eventually, it only shows you articles it thinks you'd be interested in reading. The free account, is, well, free, and the premium version is $24 USD/year. Released under an MIT License, NewsBlur runs in your web browser, and it's also available for Android and iOS.

  • selfoss: selfoss bills itself as "the new multipurpose rss reader, live stream, mashup, aggregation web application," and if you're comfortable with hosting it yourself, this is a great choice. The interface is clean and modern, and it's designed to be used on both a desktop and mobile device. It's a web-based reader that uses an open plugin system, and it can be set up to pull posts, tweets, and feeds together into one stream. According to the official website, the only server requirements are: PHP 5.3 or higher; MySQL, PostgreSQL or Sqlite; and Apache Webserver (ngnix and lighttpd also possible). Released under a General Public License, selfoss runs in your web browser, and it's also available for Android and iOS.

  • Vienna: Vienna is for OS X only, but if you're on an Apple computer and you're looking for a new way to read and organize your RSS feeds, this could be just what you need. Along with RSS feeds, Vienna can also sync with Buffer, Facebook, Twitter, and emails, and if you're into customizing your interfaces, you can even upload your own CSS files. Released under an Apache License, Vienna can be downloaded from its SourceForge page.

We all feel a bit overwhelmed at times with news, updates, and blog posts, but there's really no need to let it get out of control. There are all kinds of organization tools out there -- you just have to find the right (open source) option for you.

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