7. May 2013

Back in March, the announcement from Google that their RSS reader will be closed down on July 1st came as a big shock and the scramble for alternatives immediately started. I must admit that I’ve been lazy and just sat back for a few weeks to await further developments, but now I’ve found an at least temoprary solution – it’s called Tiny Tiny RSS and is basically an online RSS reader which can be installed on your own webserver. I got interested in it because the programmer of the Android app gReader, which I exclusively use for reading RSS feeds, has integrated support for Tiny Tiny RSS in a new beta version. Tt really works, but also has a few drawbacks.

First, of course, you need your own webspace. The Tiny Tiny RSS website says that shared webspaces won’t work, but I’m on a virtual server and I’ve had no problem installing and running it. Maybe it has something to do with the server load – I hope I won’t get into hot water with my webspace provider, but I don’t think this will put too much strain on the server. Installation is easy – if you’ve ever installed WordPress or some other software package you won’t have any problems following the Install Notes and the automatic, web-based installation routine. The best way is to put Tiny Tiny RSS on its own subdomain and give it its own database, but it can also work in a database with other stuff in it.

The system requirements are somewhat steep, especially the requirement of PHP 5.3, which not everbody has installed yet. My webspace provider provides access to PHP 5.3.1 via PHP-CGI – all you have to do is put an .htaccess file with the line AddHandler php53-cgi .php into the root directory of the installation to make it work perfectly. I was able to run Tiny Tiny RSS on the very first try out of the box and I even managed to import my OPML feed list from the Google Reader which I had saved with Google Takeout. The web interface of Tiny Tiny RSS is minimal, but it actually works quite well – and the connection with gReader under Android works perfectly, too. There is actually no difference in gReader between using Google Reader and Tiny Tiny RSS.

There is only one potential drawback, which I have not yet fully explored – updating the feeds. There is no manual method in the web interface, instead the software relies on several different methods to update the feeds. I can’t use the recommended way,  updating as a daemon, because I don’t have command line access on my virtual server. I also can’t make manual changes to crontab, but I am allowed to run http-calls as cronjobs – there’s an obsolete, but still working method to do just that. The URL to start the feed update can also be called manually from any sort of webbrowser, even from a tablet. This is not exactly ideal, but the best method I’ve found yet. The best thing would however be to let Tiny Tiny RSS update on an external API call, but that is not (yet?) supported yet.

I have successfully tried out Tiny Tiny RSS with gReader, but because of the feed update issue, I’m still using Google Reader as a RSS source at the moment. If I can get Tiny Tiny RSS running properly on my own webspace, it would be great, but I also would have no problem using another service like Feedly if I can get it to work with gReader. But it’s good to have a fallback method with Tiny Tiny RSS if nothing else materializes when Google Reader goes down in about eight weeks.

Kategorie: Android, WWW
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