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 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.
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.
Launching Google Reader
Want to get to Google Reader quickly? Type this command into the terminal:
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:
Use your arrow keys to open up your article of choice. You will then see a text-only version of the article in question:
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 these tools. FullTextRSS in particular worked wonderfully for me.
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.
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.