Newsboat is a command line based RSS feed reader for Linux

Oct 3, 2019
Linux, Linux Mint

Once upon a time, there used to be a Command line based RSS feed reader called Newsbeuter, but, like many a good program it too was abandoned.

Fortunately, another developer forked the source code and Newsboat was born. The program is quite user friendly and offers a great deal of customization options. I'm going to point out  the basics to get you started with the program.

Newsboat is a command line based RSS feed reader for Linux

How to install Newsboat the easy way

If you're not familiar with installing libraries, I'd suggest using Snapd. To install it, just run

$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install snapd

Once it's installed, run the command

$ sudo snap install newsboat

Newsboat how to install snapd

This is the easiest way to install Newsboat. I'd recommend this for advanced users too because it takes like a minute and uses the least amount of disk space.

How to install Newsboat - compiling the latest version from source

Newsboat relies on several libraries (sqlite3, libcurl, libxml2, stfl, json-c, ncursesw, etc) and the developers do not distribute ready-to-use packages that contain the dependencies.  If you are an advanced user, you can install the libraries by using the terminal command "sudo apt install". Make sure you use the developer version of the libraries, since you will need to compile the program.

For e.g. sudo apt-get install libsqlite3-dev

How to add RSS Feeds to Newsboat

Newsboat will not run unless you have a list of RSS Feeds that it can access. You have 2 options for this.

Import an OPML feed list (from Feedly, Inoreader, or other RSS feed readers, e.g. QuiteRSS or Newsflow). To do this open the terminal and use the command "newsboat -i my-feeds.opml" (replace my-feeds with the name of your opml file).

Newsboat imported feeds


Create a file called urls. Use a text editor, and save it in the Newsboat folder. For me it had to be placed at /home/ashwin/snap/newsboat/1471/.newsboat/

Open the urls file and paste the links of RSS feed URLS that you wish to access. Save and close it.

For example, you could add these to the urls file and Newsboat will display the corresponding feeds:

Newsboat feed list

The import OPML option basically creates the urls file for you. You can edit it after it has been created.

How to open Newsboat and use it

Open the Terminal and type newsboat. The program should load the urls file and you will be able to access the RSS feeds in the command line. When you are accessing a newly added feed, it may throw out some error. Hit the r key to reload it and Newsboat should be able to retrieve the feed.

Newsboat feed view

Use the arrow keys to navigate between the feeds. Optionally, you can type the number of the feed and hit enter to select it. Hit Enter again to open the selected feed. Repeat the steps to read an article from a feed. Press n to jump to the next unread feed. If you want to read the article in the browser, use o.

Here's a screenshot of all the shortcuts available in Newsboat.

Newsboat keyboard shortcuts

Take some time to read the documentation on the official website to learn how to customize Newsboat. You can change the colour, add tags, set custom names for the feeds, etc.

Closing Words

I mostly use Feedly for my RSS requirements. But, they have been changing the design too much of late and it's almost a pain to use it. I'm switching back to standalone readers.  Newsboat is a pretty cool way to read articles. Of course, not being able to see pictures from the posts is a con, as is the inability to interact with other content, e.g. links. I do like the minimal and distraction free reading experience.

Now You: Which feed reader do you use currently?

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  1. stefann said on October 5, 2019 at 3:06 am

    There we have one of the reasons many stay away from Linux : COMMAND LINE….this or that !

    1. John Fenderson said on October 7, 2019 at 5:05 pm


      Considering that you can use Linux without ever touching the command line, this is a dubious assertion.

    2. savemynameemailandwebsite said on October 6, 2019 at 5:15 am

      @stefann – did you typed all this by yourself? It’s like a command line – with different words.

      But here is still one very bad thing – SNAP. This is why we can’t have nice things.

      1. John Fenderson said on October 7, 2019 at 5:08 pm


        I really hate snaps as well, but their use isn’t required. Even this utility doesn’t have to be installed using snap.

  2. John Fenderson said on October 4, 2019 at 6:27 pm

    “Which feed reader do you use currently?”

    I use Tiny Tiny RSS on a private webserver to collect and categorize various RSS feeds. TT-RSS then creates its own aggregate RSS feeds according to my specifications as well as a web interface for them.

    I read those feeds either with a browser using the web interface, or on Android using gReader Pro.

  3. Hans said on October 4, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    I use SmartRSS extension in Opera.

  4. Rex said on October 4, 2019 at 11:09 am

    I use the open source QuiteRSS desktop client. Very powerful and configurable, and lets you filter out feeds, something that online services either lack or charge a premium for.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 4, 2019 at 11:12 am

      I use it as well. Development of QuiteRSS 2.x has unfortunately progressed very slowly.

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