RSS reader as light as a photon with terminal + sixel
2 months ago

Schimon Jehudah via photon

2 months ago


photon logo

photon is a RSS/Atom reader with the focus on speed, usability and a bit of unix philosophy.

photon screenshot

With the current state of rss readers, which are archaic, or use electron for rendering, photon wants to bring a "fresh look" within terminal, with pictures!

It's extensible with lua plugins and can use opencl for image scaling and making paletted image.


You need a sixel supporting terminal emulator (Use foot or try alacritty-sixel also on AUR).

First install go (min version 1.18), git and scdoc, then:

git clone https://git.sr.ht/~ghost08/photon
cd photon
sudo make install

AUR: photon-rss-git

$ yay -S photon-rss-git


photon's philosophy is to be a some kind of rss viewer. So it doesn't have features like adding or managing feeds. photon can be started with a list of urls:

$ photon https://static.fsf.org/fsforg/rss/news.xml https://itsfoss.com/feed/ https://blog.golang.org/feed.atom\?format\=xml

Or it can be directly fed with the feed data:

$ curl -s https://www.reddit.com/r/pics.rss | photon -

Or using ratt and playing magnet links directly with mpv:

$ ratt auto https://1337x.to/top-100 | photon -

Or searching youtube using ratt:

$ ratt auto https://www.youtube.com/results --data-urlencode="search_query=MyQuery" | photon -

Or it can parse a file with feed urls separated by new line (and comments too):

$ cat mychannels.txt
#youtube - LunusTechTips
#youtube - Rob Braxman Tech
#odysee - Lunduke on Tech" > mychannels.txt
$ photon mychannels.txt

Or it can call a external command, must be specified with the cmd:// prefix:

$ echo "cmd://ratt auto https://videoportal.joj.sk/slovania" >> mychannels.txt
$ photon mychannels.txt

Or by default running photon with no arguments will try to read ~/.config/photon/config.

So the feed management is up to the user with arguments, text files and creating scripts like:

$ cat photon-reddit.sh
photon mysubreddits.conf
$ cat mysubreddits.conf

Config files documentation: man photon.5.

Because photon is a "viewer" (like an image viewer, video player, ...) it doesn't have a 'manage feeds' feature, ora 'item read' feature. photon just shows the contents of the feed(s).


#keybindings and options

Can be found in the man pages

man photon

#card view

Always one card is highlighted, we call it selectedCard. To navigate to other card you can use h,j,k,l (which means: left, down, up, right).

p will play the media link

o will open the card's link in the default web browser (or default application).

yy - copy card link to clipboard

r - refresh feeds

Card media/link/image can be downloaded. All downloads are saved automatically to the default downloads folder $HOME/Downloads. This can be changed with the --download-dir argument.

dm - download media

dl - download link content

di - download image

Any keybinding can be prepended with a numeric value, like in vim. So you can type 10j and the selectedCard will move 10 rows down.

Searching is done with pressing / and then typing the query. photon will filter the visible cards by finding the query in either the card's title, description, feed's title.

#article view

By pressing ENTER, photon will show the article view, where it scraps the card's link and extracts the title, top image and main text content. The article view also has three modes:

ARTICLE - shows the scrapped article content

DESCRIPTION - shows the item.Description

CONTENT - shows the item.Content

article view

Article view in DESCRIPTION or CONTENT mode, can use a external tool to render the text. By default w3m is used, but can be changed with the --article-renderer argument, or PHOTON_ARTICLE_RENDERER environment variable.

#media extraction

photon is designed strongly for media viewing/playing, it will try to extract the direct media link of the card. By following the unix philosophy, Do One Thing and Do It Well, photon want's to be just a feed viewer, so media extraction is done by external tools. By default yt-dlp is used. This can be changed with the --extractor argument or PHOTON_EXTRACTOR environment variable.

By the content type of the media, photon will run it in either a video player (default mpv) or a image viewer (default imv).

If the link is a magnet link, or a torrent file, photon will run it in a torrent downloader/player (default mpv with the webtorrent-mpv-hook script).

So you can play torrent videos directly from photon. Try: photon https://nyaa.si/?page=rss (and install the webtorrent-mpv-hook it's awesome!).

--image-cmd, --video-cmd and --torrent-cmd arguments, or PHOTON_IMAGECMD, PHOTON_VIDEOCMD and PHOTON_TORRENTCMD environment variables, are used to change the default behavior.

#Lua plugins

photon will automatically load lua scripts from ~/.config/photon/plugins/*.lua.

These plugins help to extend the functionality and make photon do whatever the user needs. Lua plugins can subscribe for events or register new keybindings and modify the state. Take a look at some user scripts.

Plugins documentation: man photon-lua.5.

Example plugin:

--import the photon events module for subscribing on events
events = require("photon.events")

--subscribe to the Init event
events.subscribe(events.Init, function()
	print("Hello photon!")

#HTTP Settings

Sometimes you need a little cookie to get the data that you want :P

For this photon has some http setting for every request that will be send:

--cookie="KEY=VALUE;KEY=VALUE;..." for setting cookies for all outgoing http requests

--header="KEY=VALUE;KEY=VALUE;..." for setting headers for all outgoing http requests

--user-agent="myphoton" for setting the User-Agent header for all outgoing http requests

--insecure ignore the ssl cert


File bugs and TODOs through the issue tracker or send an email to ~ghost08/photon@todo.sr.ht.

For general discussion or patches, use the mailing list: ~ghost08/photon@lists.sr.ht.

Join the IRC channel: #photon on irc.libera.chat

Or join my matrix room: #photon on matrix.mgyar.me


Anyone can contribute to photon:

  • Clone the repository.
  • Patch the code.
  • Make some tests.
  • Ensure that your code is properly formatted with gofmt.
  • Ensure that everything works as expected.
  • Ensure that you did not break anything.
  • Do not forget to update the docs.

Once you are happy with your work, you can create a commit (or several commits). Follow these general rules:

  • Limit the first line (title) of the commit message to 60 characters.
  • Use a short prefix for the commit title for readability with git log --oneline.
  • Use the body of the commit message to actually explain what your patch does and why it is useful.
  • Address only one issue/topic per commit.
  • If you are fixing a ticket, use appropriate commit trailers.
  • If you are fixing a regression introduced by another commit, add a Fixes: trailer with the commit id and its title.

There is a great reference for commit messages in the Linux kernel documentation.

Before sending the patch, you should configure your local clone with sane defaults:

git config format.subjectPrefix "PATCH photon"
git config sendemail.to "~ghost08/photon@lists.sr.ht"

And send the patch to the mailing list:

git sendemail --annotate -1

Wait for feedback. Address comments and amend changes to your original commit. Then you should send a v2:

git sendemail --in-reply-to=$first_message_id --annotate -v2 -1