It has been a while since I last wrote an article about how I make my life easier for myself and I thought today I might share a tidbit with you, dear reader, which might make your life a bit easier too.

Many blogs, news sites, etc, produce what is known as a 'feed' (commonly an rss or atom feed) and there exist a number of 'feed readers' such as liferea if you like desktop apps, or feedly if you want a website. I (as you might expect if you've read any of my other articles where I detail how I work) use something else. I use a tool called rss2email (or r2e).

I love r2e because it lets me keep up with a number of feeds (currently 4 though that number has been as low as 1 and as high as 7 in the past year) without making it hard for me to do so. I thought I'd share my configuration with you all, so that if it tweaks your interest, you might give it a go.

To do this, you'll need a system which is up at least most of the time, and a friendly mail server.

Getting and Setting up r2e

If you're using Debian or a derivative such as Ubuntu:

$ sudo apt-get install rss2email

Otherwise, have a poke in your distributions software package provider and grab it, or get it from their website and install it yourself.

Once you have the r2e program available, there's a few steps to follow.

First make an .rss2email directory in your $HOME and put a into it. The full possibilities of are detailed in the example provided by the rss2email author. Personally I simply have:


Which ensure that emails are sent from a valid email address so they will actually get through to me (you'll want to substitute your own address there), that r2e will put a date header on the email which uses the date of the posting so that they're ordered nicely for me in my mailbox, and that the emails will make reasonable use of unicode for me.

Next prepare a feed file and in doing so, tell r2e how to contact you:

$ r2e new

Substitute your own address since clearly I don't really want to be receiving your feeds unsolicited :)

Next we should add a feed, this bit can be repeated as much as you like:

$ r2e add
$ r2e list
$ r2e run --no-send 1

In the above, you would substitute the number of the feed for the 1 if you are adding more than one feed. The r2e run --no-send N command causes the r2e tool to run that feed but not to email you what it finds -- this is a good way to prime a feed since otherwise the next time r2e runs, it'll find all the posts in that feed as "new" and give you them all, which is not particularly optimal. (If you fancy that behaviour then simply don't do the r2e run --no-send N command and let the flood come).

Finally we need to set up r2e to run regularly. I simply use cron to do this, and have the following in my crontab:

0,30 * * * * r2e run

Which means that on the hour and on the half hour, r2e run will be executed and will email to me any new postings. There's no need to run it this often normally, but if you follow any high volume feeds then you might want to run reasonably often otherwise you'll get big batches.

Final thoughts

In addition to the above, and perhaps a little out of scope for this article, I have my email filtered on my server, so I have an 'RSS' folder into which my r2e email is filtered automatically, meaning that it doesn't clog my INBOX.

I hope that this piques your interest, I know I enjoy not having to remember to visit blogs in my web browser all the time.