Best Open Source RSS Readers

What is Open Source?

Open source software is a computer program created with code which is publicly available. This means anyone can read and edit the code which is used to create that program.

Benefits of open source readers

The main benefit of open source readers is that anyone can help to maintain and update the project. If for example, you find a bug or think of a new feature which could improve the application, you can open a pull request for the project. If accepted, your changes will become part of the program, and everyone who uses it can benefit from the update.

Additional benefits include:

  • Security - most open source programs can be self hosted, which means you have more confidence your data isn't being shared with third parties
  • Increased scrutiny - there's less chance of unethical practices being baked in
  • Cost - no monthly subscription to pay for

Downsides of open source readers

  • Time - you'll need to download the software yourself and deal with configuring it for your computer
  • Upkeep - you're responsible for making sure you keep up with the latest releases of the program
  • Reliability issues - cloud based apps have entire teams dedicated to making sure the service is always running and available. You don't get this luxury with open source, it's your responsibilty to make sure your computer has the right set-up
  • Lack of support - web-based and paid services will normally have a support team you can contact if you run into any problems. With open source, you'll either need to rely on the maintainers to make the fixes or roll up your sleeve and open a pull request yourself

Best Open Source RSS Reader Apps:

  1. Winds
  2. Raven
  3. FreshRSS
  4. Miniflux
  5. Vienna
  6. RSSOwl
  7. Tickr
  8. Tiny Tiny RSS

Winds

Website: Winds

Source code: https://github.com/GetStream/Winds

License: BSD-3-Clause License

New project - JavaScript based, built using React.js

Online demo available: demo link

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Pros

  • Follow podcasts and blogs
  • Add custom RSS feeds
  • Import and export via OPML
  • Built in player for podcasts
  • Podcast player stays in view and carries on playing whilst you read other articles
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Cons

  • Content discovery is limited - there are only a few blogs and podcasts initially suggested
  • No options to browse by categories

Raven

Website: Raven

Source code: https://github.com/hello-efficiency-inc/raven-reader

License: MIT License

Cross-platform, available on Windows, Mac and Linux, built using Electron

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Pros

  • UI is very clean and modern - no redundant features clogging up the space
  • Filter by "All Feeds", "Favourtes", "Unread Articles", "Recently Read", "Recently Played"
  • Organise feeds with custom categories
  • Can add custom feeds, and rename the feeds
  • Supports import and export with OPML files
  • Save articles to read later
  • Set preferences of how long to store read articles
  • Choose how often to refresh news feed
  • Multiple themes available including dark-mode
  • Integrates with Instapaper and Pocker
  • Can sync with Inoreader or Feedbin
  • Share articles via email, Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin
  • Full-text reader available
  • Options to change font-size or font type in reader
  • Search articles by keyword or phrase
  • Sends desktop notifications when new articles are published
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Cons

  • You can find existing feeds on a website by typing in the website URL and raven should find any feeds belonging to that website. This feature doesn't work well, we tested using well known design blogs but neither feeds were found

FreshRSS

Website: FreshRSS

Source code: https://github.com/FreshRSS/FreshRSS

License: AGPL-3.0 License

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Pros

  • Online demo available, to try before you download
  • Create custom labels to organise your feeds
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Cons

  • The UI at times feels unpolished
  • Switching between reading view and list view feels buggy
  • Filter options are unintuitive, for example you can choose between "Today" or "Before yesterday"

Miniflux

Website: Miniflux

Source code: https://github.com/miniflux

License: Apache License 2.0

Miniflux calls itself a "minimalist and opinionated feed reader"

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Pros

  • Supports multiple languages
  • Responsive design
  • Custom themes
  • Can bookmark articles to read at later date
  • Hosting plan is $15 if you don't want to self-host
  • Import and export with OPML
  • Player for YouTube videos
  • Supports multiple languages
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Cons

  • No online demo to try before cloning repository

Vienna

Website: Vienna

Source code: https://github.com/ViennaRSS/vienna-rss

License: Apache-2.0 License

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Pros

  • Able to create custom plugins
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Cons

  • No online demo

RSSOwl

Website: RSSOwl

Source code: https://github.com/rssowl/RSSOwl

License: EPL-1.0 License

Written in Java

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Pros

  • Can customize notifications
  • Add labels and bins to your feeds for better organisation
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Cons

  • Lack of options for customisation

Tickr

Website: Tickr

Source code: https://packages.debian.org/bullseye/tickr

License: GPL license

Linux desktop application

Headlines from the latest arcticles are displayed across the top of your desktop screen. You can click on it to open the full article in your chosen browser.

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Pros

  • Positioning on top bar means you'll always see the latest headlines
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Cons

  • Positioning can mean distractions, which isn't great for people who want to concentrate on other tasks.

Tiny Tiny RSS

Website: Tiny Tiny RSS

Source code: https://git.tt-rss.org/fox/tt-rss

License: GNU General Public License

They also have an Android client

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Pros

  • Import and export via OPML
  • Lots of keyboard shortcuts to save you time
  • Can create custom plugins
  • Filters to help you find the content which matters the most
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Cons

  • Needs extensive configuration before it can be used