Tiny Tiny RSS, Google Reader Alternative: Review / Tutorial

Due to the death of Google Reader, I recently presented a list of several self-hosted RSS reader alternatives. After having time to spend with one of them, Tiny Tiny RSS, I wanted to post some initial thoughts for you to review.˝

TLDR: Tiny Tiny RSS is a great option because you install it on your own (hosted) web server, so it won’t ever be taken away from you (unless you don’t pay your web host).

Before you begin: Be sure to go and export your RSS Feeds from Google Reader (instructions found here) and un-zip them into a folder.

Setup: Easy!

I cheated, I admit it!

My Web Host uses a great tool called Softaculous, which, depending on how your host configures it, will install most web applications on your server in the click of a button!  No joke! So, by going into my web server and locating Tiny Tiny RSS, I just click the button to install and BOOM! I suddenly have Tiny Tiny RSS.

softaculous Tiny Tiny RSS installer

softaculous Tiny Tiny RSS installer

OK, actually, I had to do a few other steps such as:

  • Decide which of my domians I’d use for Tiny Tiny RSS
  • Optional, but I chose to create a subdomain (reader.mydomain.com) and install Tiny Tiny RSS there (you can go with the default options)
  • Determine if I wanted a CRON Job (yes, you do, and I’d set it for less than 30 mins, more like 10 for me)
  • Change other default setups (I didn’t, left the rest as-is)
softaculous Installer Setup Screen for Tiny Tiny RSS

softaculous Installer Setup Screen for Tiny Tiny RSS

But after this step, it was all done for me. Nice!!!

Now, you can do it the hard (and I mean hard) way if you like. LifeHacker has an excellent article on how to install Tiny Tiny RSS yourself. 10 years ago, I’d have been all over that method, but these days nah…I want to do other things – like sleep!

Once the setup is completed, log into your new installation of Tiny Tiny RSS. You won’t see much beyond the RSS feeds that come with it. But at least you see something!

Tiny Tiny RSS, empty home screen

Tiny Tiny RSS, empty home screen

Next, go create yourself an account. You could use the Admin account to read your feeds, but I always like to keep Admin accounts clear of that sort of thing.

Since Tiny Tiny RSS lets you have multiple user accounts, set one up for yourself and leave the Admin for, you know, admin-ey things.

Log out as Admin and log back in as you!

Importing Google Reader Feeds: Easy!

Just visit the Preferences panel, then go to Feeds.

Tiny Tiny RSS, Preferences

Tiny Tiny RSS, Preferences

In the OPML box, click browse.

Tiny Tiny RSS, Browse for XML

Tiny Tiny RSS, Browse for XML

We want to search for your Google Reader “takeout” files you downloaded before reading all this (see top of page).

The file we want is: subscriptions.xml

Tiny Tiny RSS, Subscriptions XML

Tiny Tiny RSS, Subscriptions XML

Select that file and click Import my OPML. Doesn’t matter what “OPML” means, we just need to click it to import.

Now, be patient. It could take a while to upload all your feeds (like it did mine). Could be very fast. Either way, once completed you can exit the preferences and head to your  main screen.

At this point, you are pretty well set up. There are plugins available for Tiny Tiny RSS, but I won’t get into those or how to install them (who needs more Geekery at this point?). Just know they are available, and if you are tech enough, I’d recommend installing a few (like the share via email option).

Performance: Tricky

Let’s be clear, Tiny Tiny RSS has not set out to be a clone of Google Reader. It has many similar functions, and you can make it more like Google Reader via the plugins mentioned above, but it will never be Google Reader.

Once you accept this, and get used to Tiny Tiny RSS for what it is, you might just find enough new to like (and enough old to keep you happy).

Tiny Tiny RSS with feeds visible

Tiny Tiny RSS with feeds visible

Conclusion: It’s a Keeper!

There are really way, way too many settings, options, plugins and CSS tweaks to post here. Just know that Tiny Tiny RSS has options, and if you care to spend some (not a lot, but some) time with it, you can get the program to do what you want.

Keep in mind, Tiny Tiny RSS is free and has no obligation to offer tech support. That said, there is a forum. I’d recommend lurking a while before asking for help – chances are it has been answered already, and you may not like the way you are told about that. Just sayin’.

By the way, if you have iOS, you can just pull up your Tiny Tiny RSS web link and read your feeds online.

Android folks, well, they get their own Tiny Tiny RSS app!

I 100% recommend Tiny Tiny RSS for anyone wanting to keep their own Google Reader-type feeds going after Google closes shop on Reader. Even though other Google Reader Alternatives are available, hosting your own feed reader is really the only way to be sure you won’t be looking for another solution in 6-8 months.

You can Do This: You don’t have to be a computer expert or uber-geek to set this all up. If I can, you can.

If you are semi-geek and willing to take a chance, Tiny Tiny RSS might just be the Reader you are looking for!



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