Canto: console based Linux RSS/news feed reader


In a past post I wrote about Feedly as an alternative to Google Reader. It’s definitely good but practically speaking I just love to skim through the list of feeds and open only the ones those I think would be interesting. I found exactly what I wanted – Canto. If you are thinking it’s primitive, check out the features:

  • Open any feed anytme in the browser of your choice
  • Unicode support
  • Supports both RSS, ATOM and RDF feeds.
  • Import/export feeds in OPML format
  • Theming through configuration
  • As will most Linux utilities, it is extremely flexible and can be configured to your liking
  • Very very lightweight and fast as it just downloads the feed information and no images or the full text of the news
  • For a distraction free reading, make you console fullscreen (F11) and try it out
  • Available in synaptic on Ubuntu

To install canto on Ubuntu, run:

$ sudo apt-get install canto


  • For help, run canto -h or man canto or press h when canto is open.


All your configuration goes into ~/.canto/ file. Download mine from here. I have added:

  • some feeds
  • a filter not to show read articles
  • google-chrome to open the links
    you can choose to use elinks but 1. the learning curve might be steep and 2. if you want to read the full news, why not open it in the default browser?

Basic navigation

  • To execute canto, run
    $ canto //run canto
    $ canto -a //just refresh the feeds
    $ canto -u //update feeds & open canto, you can alias this in ~/.bashrc
  • Up and Down keys navigate through the feed list.
  • Use Left and Right to mark unread and read from feed list without opening.
    Use r to mark all stories in a feed/group as read. R marks everything as read.
  • Press f in feed list to search and highlight matching feeds.
  • Use Space to open details of a feed in a new frame (feed frame) and Space again to go back to feed list.
    To open directly in the browser bring the cursor to the feed and press g.
  • When within a feed frame, type g 0 (then Enter) to open it in browser. 0 is the index to the link.
    Similarly you can open other links using g n, where n is the link number in [] shown beside the link.
  • Press n and p to jump to next and previous feed from the feed frame.
  • Press l (small L) in the feed frame to expand all the links in the feed.
  • Press Ctrl-R to refresh all feeds.
  • To quit press q in the default feed list page.

If you are not sure where to start, start with adding my feed:

Webpage: Canto

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