Reviewing liferea

I recently reviewed akregator, the RSS reader that is part of KDE.  So I thought I would also tryout liferea (or linux feed reader), which is a Gnome based rss reader.  Although it is designed for a Gnome environment, I tested liferea while still running KDE.

I plan to compare akregator and liferea is a future post.  For now, I’ll just describe liferea and how I used it during my tests.

As with the earlier review, I was mainly interested in an rss reader for blogs.  The thing about blogs, is that some of them only have infrequent posts.  So visiting a blog, just to see if there is a new post, can waste my time.  It is better for the rss reader to do that time wasting, and alert me when there is a new post to read.

The liferea window

I deleted the originally preset feeds, created several folders and added a few feeds (mostly blogs) to use with my testing.

Adding feeds

To add a new feed, I right clicked on the folder and then selected “new -> new subscription”.  A box opened.  And there I could type (or paste) the url of the blog.  Then liferea used auto-discovery to find the proper link for the rss feed.  In one case, liferea did not get the feed that I wanted, so instead I entered the direct link to the feed.  Either way, subscribing was simple enough.

Shortly after adding a new feed, the main window would show several messages from that feed.  After initially adding, I could right click on the feed and tell it to mark all messages from that feed as having been read.

Using liferea

For normal use, during this test, I closed the liferea window.  That left an icon in the system tray.  Then, when there were new messages, the count of new messages would show up in that icon.  I’ll note that I first had to configure liferea to show the count of new messages in the icon.  The default setup was to not show that count.

Once I see that there are new messages, I can click on the tray icon.  That opens the window on the screen where I can proceed to read the messages.  Clicking on a message title shows the content of the rss feed for that message.  Alternatively, I can right click on the message title and select “read in browser” to open my browser (or a new tab in firefox) to the message itself.

Non-blogs

In addition to several blog feeds, I tried one yahoo group, and one subforum of dslreports.com.  These also worked, though not as usefully as for the blogs.  It was with the dslreports subforum that automatic feed discovery gave me problems.  For liferea “discovered” the feed for the front page of dslreports, rather than the feed for the particular subforum that interested me.  Giving the direct feed url resolved that problem.

Cookies

For web cookies, liferea uses a text file “cookies.txt” in the configuration directory “$HOME/.liferea_1.8”.  This is a text file, using the format that was familiar from the days of the netscape browser.  A google search found suggestions that you copy your firefox “cookies.txt” file to this location if you want to share firefox cookies.  However, firefox has not used “cookies.txt” for several years (unless you have an old version).  Instead, it uses “cookies.sqlite” which is an sqlite database file.

As it happens, I normally start firefox with a shell script.  And I have that shell script deleting unwanted cookies.  As part of what the shell script does, I have it create a “cookies.txt” in the old netscape format.  So I did actually have a cookies.txt file with current cookies.  I copied that into the liferea configuration directory (while liferea was not running).  Then, after restarting liferea, I tried adding a feed to a private subforum of dslreports, a subforum that is accessible only to signed in members.  That worked, so it does look as if liferea is using the cookies that tell dslreports that I am logged in.

Bugs

I have not found any serious bugs.  Thus far, liferea has not crashed on me, though perhaps I have not used the application for sufficient time for a crash to be likely.

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About Neil Rickert

Retired mathematician and computer scientist who dabbles in cognitive science.

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