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text only google readerDo 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 famously minimalist, but browsers hardly make ideal reading platforms. They give you convenient access to a plethora of distractions, from social networks to pictures of kittens. Avoid such distractions and focus on your reading by doing your reading in the command line. Besides, the command line is just plain cool, so you should be using it anyway.

eLinks is a text-only browser you can run from the command line. It is easily installed on Linux and Mac systems alike, so this idea works on both of those systems.

Installing eLinks

The first step, of course, is installing eLinks. Using Linux? Installing eLinks is simple, then. Just check your package manager of choice for it. Using Ubuntu? Simply click here to install.

Are you a Mac user? Congratulations, most of you aren’t awesome enough to be interested in the command line. You think different. Find a Mac download for eLinks here. You’ll find the Terminal in your Applications folder, under “Utilities“.

Once you’ve got the program working, you can open it in the terminal by typing “elinks” and hitting enter.

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Launching Google Reader

Want to get to Google Reader quickly? Type this command into the terminal:

text only google reader

elinks google.com/reader/m

Just like that, you’ve opened a web browser straight to Google Reader’s mobile page. You will need to log in now. Use the arrow keys to get to the entry fields, then hit enter to add text. Log in and you will see your reading list:

text only rss reader

Use your arrow keys to open up your article of choice. You will then see a text-only version of the article in question:

text only rss reader

I highly recommend pressing the space bar to scroll down; it will “turn the page” completely.

Of course, this all assumes that the RSS feeds you subscribe to are full text. If some of them aren’t, Google will do what it can to convert links to a mobile version if you click a link. Alternatively, you can convert any RSS feed to full text with tools like FullTextRSS.

Do you want a completely immersive reading experience? In most Linux distros, including Ubuntu, you can switch to terminal-only by hitting “ALT”, “CTL” and any of the “F” keys from 1 to 6. Pressing “ALT”, “CTL” and “F7”, for example, will bring you back to your graphical environment.

Alternatively, you could simply go full screen or maximize the terminal. That works too.

Other Potential Sites

eLinks doesn’t just work with Google Reader, of course – it’s a full blown web browser. Just about any site should work, but mobile versions of famous sites tend to work best, like the BBC Mobile version.

text only google reader

Can you think of any other sites you’d like to read in this way? Share them in the comments below, as always! Also feel free to share any other simple command line tricks you use to keep yourself from being distracted.

  1. Anonymous
    January 16, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    i'm glad they are still making useful stuff for linux.

  2. Anonymous
    October 26, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    my co-worker's half-sister makes $84 hourly on the laptop. She has been laid off for 5 months but last month her income was $7450 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read about it on this web site http://ufil.ms/jfiHL

  3. Anonymous
    October 26, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    "Congratulations, most of you aren’t awesome enough to be interested in the command line. You think different."

    First off, really? Are you 12?

    Secondly, you're much better off using homebrew: http://mxcl.github.com/homebrew/

    • jhpot
      October 26, 2011 at 10:58 pm

      I probably overuse the word awesome, but people around here seem to like it.

      Anyway, educate me: why is using Homebrew better than using a drag-and-drop Mac installer?

    • Anonymous
      October 27, 2011 at 1:02 am

      It was really more the unnecessary Mac dig. The majority of the folks that I work with have switched to Mac *because* of the command line. Obviously this does not apply to Linux folks, but I haven't worked with many people with Linux on their production machine. It's really annoying still hearing those shots.

      Homebrew has a number of advantages over installed command line apps, particularly if you use a number of them. First off, you get the benefit of slimmer and faster code, as the non-Aqua apps are compiled from source. So the binary you get is tailored to your system. You're also assured that your app is compiled using the most up-to-date version of gcc for the Mac.

      Secondly, the installer ports often lag behind the package manager installed versions. This isn't as true for common apps like vim, emacs, git, but is usually the case for everything else. For example, the version of elinks on your page is 0.11.3 beta. I can install 0.11.7 stable, or 0.12pre5. The stable fixes a major crashing bug in handling javascript.

      Thirdly, it's cleaner and safer. You don't end up with a variety of the same libraries in various states of patchedness scattered all over your filesystem. Usually this isn't a big deal, but there have been times when having an unpatched readlin library on your machine has been a major security problem.

      Finally, updates are way easier. Before I moved to using package managers on the mac, I installed pine from an installer. I tried to move to alpine, but had such a horrible collision between the two I couldn't use either until I spent an age in Console.app tracking down the issues. I've never had anything worse than a failed upgrade using hombrew.

    • jhpot
      October 27, 2011 at 2:32 am

      It's a difference of experience, then. Most of the Mac people I work with day to day are creative types, and have no idea Macs come with a Terminal

      And cool: HomeBrew is basically apt-get for OS X. I'll be sure to play with this a little myself, and point our readers to it in the future. Thanks for the in-depth explanation!

    • Anonymous
      October 27, 2011 at 2:37 am

      I'll give you that, and sorry for the snark. I'm a freelancer, so I walk into meetings with my Mac and hear comments from Windows guys all the time. It's a raw nerve.

      Very happy to elucidate further.

    • Anonymous
      November 22, 2011 at 1:57 am

      Hmm, Homebrew is new to you? Then you better have a look at MacPorts and Fink as well. :) Apt-get, indeed.

    • jhpot
      November 22, 2011 at 6:21 am

      I've been a Linux user much longer than a Mac one, so there are lots of tricks I need to learn.

    • Anonymous
      November 22, 2011 at 7:28 pm

      I see, I'm still learning myself :)

      I believe there's a book called Mac OS X for Linux users if you're interested.

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