Tiny Tiny RSS

2 minute read

In my last post I was thinking about what to do now that Google Reader is headed for end-of-life. As a quick interim step, I installed Liferea on my Ubuntu desktop, which at least reminded me of how to export from Google Reader via OPML and prompted a bit of feed cleanup.

I found Liferea was not a good permanent solution, because it required that I be either at my desktop or at least have it running all the time, and usually I keep it suspended when I’m away from home. I needed something more like Google Reader that I could access from anywhere, but that I could run on my own server, so I started looking at Tiny Tiny RSS.

Tiny Tiny RSS is a RSS reader web app not entirely dissimilar to Google Reader. It has a PHP/MySQL backend with a nice looking, heavily JavaScript-driven frontend. It’s pretty easy to install, has a ton of features, a choice of methods for updating feeds (daemon, cron, background PHP while using the site), and even a plugin architecture. And it’s open source and you can install it on your own server – excellent. :)

The install is simple – setup a DB in either MySQL or PostgreSQL and import the appropriate schema, make sure you have some web server with PHP and the PHP dependencies installed, then drop the source files in a folder, edit the config files, and go. I have it running on my EC2 instance using Apache with FCGI/PHP and MySQL and it seems reasonably fast, though I think I may need to do some tweaking to gzip and browser caching settings for some files.

The standard UI is clean, and mostly intuitive. I had to search for a couple of options, including the OPML import – the preferences section has both tabs and top and bottom bars within each tab for separate sections of settings – but once you get used to the interface most things are in consistent locations.

If you access the app on a mobile device, it will automatically switch to a mobile UI (there’s an option to use the full UI). The mobile UI is heavily stripped down, so far that even simple functions like adding or removing a feed are removed. You can basically just read feed articles. Which is useful if you’re using a phone, I suppose, but on a tablet I found it restrictive, so most frequently opted for the standard UI. I may use the mobile UI more while commuting to reduce data and speed things up, and almost certainly if I’m using it on my phone.

So, all in all, two thumbs up for Tiny Tiny RSS, I think I’ve found my solution for replacing Google Reader. If anyone I know in person wants a login either to test or for long-term use just let me know. :)