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ubuntu google readerDo you love Google Reader, but wish you could access it offline? Ubuntu client Lightread lets you do just that, and also gives you an extremely simple user interface to read with. Lean back and browse, because with Lightread you only need the arrow keys to navigate your feeds.

I’ve shown you how to easily strip the unnecessary clutter from Google Reader How to Easily Strip the Unnecessary Clutter From Google Reader How to Easily Strip the Unnecessary Clutter From Google Reader Flush away the crap you don't need in Google Reader and get back to what's important - reading. "Google Reader Readable" is both a Chrome extension and a userstyle that removes basically everything from Google... Read More , and how to read Google Reader from the command line Read Google Reader in the Terminal Using the Text-Only Browser eLinks [Linux & Mac] Read Google Reader in the Terminal Using the Text-Only Browser eLinks [Linux & Mac] Do you want an immersive, text-only Google Reader? Try going through your reading list in the terminal. It's easy to do with terminal web browser elinks and Google Reader's mobile interface. Google Reader's interface is... Read More . Those tips are great, but sometimes a disconnected reader is best – whether you’re on a plane or otherwise offline, Lightread means you can read your feeds and even star articles and sync changes later.

Unlike other Ubuntu RSS readers, such as Liferea Liferea - The Perfect RSS Aggregator For Your Linux Desktop Liferea - The Perfect RSS Aggregator For Your Linux Desktop Since our need for information is growing, we need a good, reliable way of getting the information we care about. RSS feeds can do the job well, but managing those feeds is another story. There... Read More , Lightread requires a Google Reader account in order to function. This means two things, depending on how you look at it – that Lightread is a Google Reader client you can use as an offline reader, or that Lightread comes with it’s own web-based client – Google Reader. Either way, you’re going to need a Google account to use this software.

Using Lightread

Obviously the first thing you’re going to need to do is sign in with your Google account. Don’t worry if you’ve never used Google Reader before. Any Google account should work, and you can easily add new feeds once you’ve logged in.

ubuntu google reader

Lightread will now download your feeds and you can start reading immediately, assuming you’re already an active Google Reader user.


ubuntu google reader client

If not you can start adding feeds: there’s a “+” button at the bottom of the left-side panel.

Those who love reading with their mouse will feel right at home. Keyboard fans might feel a little lost. The standard Google Reader keyboard shortcuts don’t work here. Don’t panic. You’ll also notice a subtle arrow at the bottom of one of the three panels – it signifies the panel you can browse using the up and down keys. To switch to another panel use the left and right keys. Simple.

Note that, by default, this software will only automatically sync when you first start it. If you’d like to change this you can do so in the settings:

ubuntu google reader

By default, syncing happens only at startup. I highly recommend you change this. I also recommend you turn off notifications, especially if you subscribe to sites that update frequently – this could easily drive you nuts otherwise.

Installing Lightread

Lightread should be in the Ubuntu Software Center by the time you’re reading this, but if not you can add the following PPA: ppa:cooperjona/lightread.

Sorry, users of other Linux distributions. I cannot find the source code or non-Ubuntu packages right now. Stay tuned.


I love this program, and plan on using it for most of my feed reading for the foreseeable future. It automatically syncs with Google Reader, which is where I was already managing my feeds, but works offline, so I can catch up with my reading on a plane.

Lightread is part of the Ubuntu App Showdown, so be sure to support it if you like it.

Do you think you know of a better Ubuntu RSS reader? Let me know in the comments below, along with your thoughts about Lightread.

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  1. David
    December 19, 2012 at 8:39 am

    I like the program but I seem to be having this problem when I go offline. It tries to load some instapaper url and can't so that means that I can't read offline.

    • Justin Pot
      December 20, 2012 at 3:20 pm

      That's unusual...wish I could help but it works for me.

  2. Lazza
    August 5, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    Lightread keeps telling me I have 50 unread items, while I have only 6 on the web interface and if I mark them in Lightread and them refresh, they come back again. Do you encounter a similar behavior?

    • Justin Pot
      August 6, 2012 at 9:55 pm

      No, I didn't. Try signing out and then back in, perhaps?

      • Lazza
        August 7, 2012 at 4:41 pm

        Unfortunately it didn't work, but I managed to convince it after manually marking them as read for two or three times. What's odd is that it showed me unread articles from 2010. o.O

  3. Markus Svensson
    August 3, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    This program is a clone of the OS X application called Reeder.

    Not only did the developer copy the exact concept, but even the icons are the same. I dont think its cool to just rip-off somebody's hard work and call it your own. Sure, its always nice to be inspired by others, but to make an exact copy? Shameful.

    • Justin Pot
      August 3, 2012 at 2:50 pm

      You're right: it's very similar. I've never used Reeder, but I looked up some screenshots and it's uncanny. That's unfortunate, because I like Lightread a lot and it's unlikely Reeder will ever be ported to Linux.

  4. John Hopkins
    July 27, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Don't so much have a need for the offline mode, as my internet is always up, but I guess if I lost connection or was on a plane, this would be good until I had service again. It does have a nice interface so I'll give it a go.

    • Justin Pot
      July 31, 2012 at 3:36 pm

      It's worth it for the interface alone; I love browsing through my feeds using only the arrow keys.

  5. Omar Abaza
    July 26, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Awesome :D
    I'll Try It Soon

  6. Paul Smith
    July 19, 2012 at 12:20 am

    Just installed this program. The source is in Python and comes as part of the package (think it is written using Quickly).

    • Justin Pot
      July 31, 2012 at 3:35 pm

      I suppose versions for other systems should be on their way, then. Good to know.