Feed Commas - user-friendly console CommaFeed client.

1. Introduction

Feed Commas is a client application for CommaFeed, a Google Reader inspired self-hosted RSS reader. You don’t have to host your own instance of CommaFeed to use it. Free (gratis) accounts are available on https://commafeed.com and they work with Feed Commas as well.

Feed Commas is terminal application, but with a catchy, curses-based graphical frontend. It’s mainly navigated from keyboard; by default it is configured with vi-like keybindings, but you can reconfigure it anyway you like. It’s intended audience are ordinary users who are not afraid of launching a console.

2. Installation

The easiest way to install Feed Commas is to use pip:

$ pip install --user feedcommas

If you downloaded Feed Commas source code directly, you can still easily install it quite easily by creating a developement virtualenv and symlinking Feed Commas executable. This method has additional benefit that pulling latest changes from git will auto-update your installation (unless dependencies change).

To use this method, you need installed python3-tox package:

$ cd feedcommas-git
$ tox -e dev
$ ln -s $(pwd)/.tox/dev/bin/feed-commas $HOME/.local/bin/feed-commas

2.1. Dependencies

Table 1. Feed Commas dependencies
Package Version


>= 3.4


>= 1.3.1


>= 2.13.0


>= 4.5.3


>= 1.1.6


>= 0.1.0

Table 2. Feed Commas documentation dependencies
Package Version




3. Interface

3.1. First run

│Log in to CommaFeed                                                           │
│                                                                              │
│Name or email: █                                                              │
│Password command:                                                             │
│Password (plain text, optional):                                              │
│                                                                              │
│                                                                              │
│                                                          < Ok     >< Cancel >│

On the first run , Feed Commas will ask you to fill credentials needed to login to CommaFeed. Above screen will be displayed. You can navigate it using Tab, Shift+Tab, and arrow buttons: , , and .

You should enter either plain text password (which is discouraged) or password command, which should be a shell command returning a single line containing a password used to log in to your CommaFeed account.

To confirm credentials, either click < Ok > button or press Enter. To exit Feed Commas, click < Cancel > button or press Esc.

Correct credentials are saved to your configuration file (see Configuration and server sections for details about that) and you are then presented Feed Commas main window.

A note about passwords

Plain text password is saved into password field in your configuration. Password command is saved into password-cmd field in your configuration and takes precedence over password if they’re both set.

If your password command returns several lines of text, you can use standard Unix tools to filter it, because password-cmd is called by a spawned child shell. For example:

pass commafeed | head -1

Some commands return passwords terminated with a newline character: \n. Feed Commas doesn’t strip it by itself and you might be unable to log into CommaFeed with it. You can easily remove newline by piping your command’s output to tr, which is another standard Unix tool available on all POSIX-compatible operating systems:

pass commafeed | head -1 | tr -d '\n'

3.2. Main window

 ▼ Menu                                                         Article list ▼
│All                    │┌────────────────────────────────────────────────────┐│
│Starred                ││How to make `lynx` fast?    Tue Mar  7 10:52:00 2017││
│Daily read             ││                                                    ││
│  /r/commandline(1)    ││   Anyone care share their lynx config?             ││
│  Lorem ipsum          ││   For some reason, lynx on my computer cannot open ││
│  The Codist           ││websites instantly.                                 ││
│  Andrzej's C++ blog   ││                                                    ││
│  Ludic Linux          ││☐                          submitted by /u/blablabla││
│Comics                 │└────────────────────────────────────────────────────┘│
│  MonkeyUser           │┌────────────────────────────────────────────────────┐│
│  Geek&Poke            ││Lorem ipsum                 Mon Mar  6 23:52:14 2017││
│  xkcd                 ││                                                    ││
│                       ││   Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.                      ││
│                       ││                                                    ││
│                       ││★☑                                            author││
│                       │└────────────────────────────────────────────────────┘│
│[uo]                                                                          │
│:show-unread                                                                  │
 ▲ Commandline / message display

Above is example view of Feed Commas, drawn to fit 80-characters-wide terminal. Interface resizes dynamically, so on modern displays you’ll encounter more free space.

Two main parts are: 1) menu with subscribed feeds and categories on the left, and 2) article list on the right.

Feed Commas starts with a focus on article list. To switch between menu and article list, use h and l. j and k navigates menu and scrolls article list. See navigation for details.

There’s also a command line on the bottom of the screen. It’s accessible by pressing : key. To close it, press Esc or delete all of the typed text. To show completion hints press Tab.

Above a commandline there’s a single line called status line. It displays several informations (like whether Feed Commas is in online/offline mode) and notifications and messages sent by Feed Commas to the user.

3.3. Commands

Most of the commands are bound to some key by default, but not all of them. All of them, however, are available to be used via a commandline. All commands, beside navigation ones (nav-up, nav-down, nav-right and nav-left) are available. For a complete list, see keys subsection.

You don’t have to type the whole command. If there’s only one command which starts with a typed substring, a correct command will be executed. No command is executed in case of ambiguity. For example, :q will work the same as :quit, but :read won’t run anything because there are two possible commands: read-toggle and read-all.

4. Configuration

Feed Commas can be configured by setting options in a standard ini-style configuration file. If not specified via -c, --config flag, configuration is searched in a filesystem in a way described by XDG Base Directory Specification. In practice it means that for most users it will be located in ~/.config/feed-commas/config.ini. However, any of below files can be read if previous ones were not found:

  1. $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/feed-commas/config.ini. If $XDG_CONFIG_HOME is not set, it defaults to $HOME/.config.

  2. any of $XDG_DATA_DIRS/feed-commas/config.ini. $XDG_DATA_DIRS is colon-separated list of directories to check. If it is not set, it defaults to /etc/xdg.

If configuration file is not found, Feed Commas will create one.

Before Feed Commas terminates, any changes to the configuration are written back.

Specific configuration files

You can tell Feed Commas to use a specific configuration file by using -c, --config switch. Feed Commas will read it (or create it if it doesn’t exist) and everything else will work the same as with configuration found by above method.

$ feed-commas -c ~/feedcommasrc

4.1. Structure

INI files are made of sections. Each section contains a number of options. Below is incomplete example of file which has [server] and [keys] sections.

address = https://commafeed.com

nav-up = k
nav-down = j

workers = 2


[server] contains options for configuring access to CommaFeed server.

Table 3. [server] options
Option Default value Description



Address of CommaFeed instance with which Feed Commas will communicate.


name or e-mail used to login to CommaFeed instance.


Plain text password which will be used to login to CommaFeed. Due to security reasons, it is not recommended to leave plain text passwords in any configuration file. Use password-cmd instead.


A command used to get password to login to CommaFeed. It takes precedence over password, even if the latter is set.



Time in seconds after which Feed Commas timeouts and goes to auto-offline mode. When in auto-offline mode, Feed Commas will retry connecting with Comma Feed, but meanwhile will use local cache of RSS entries. You can force Feed Commas to try to reconnect immediately by refreshing article list.


[keys] contains key mappings used in Feed Commas.

Table 4. [keys] options
Option Default value Description



Navigates and scrolls up. It is used e.g. to navigate a menu and scroll article list.



Navigates and scrolls down. It is used e.g. to navigate a menu and scroll article list.



Navigates right. It is used e.g. to switch used panel from menu to article list.



Navigates right. It is used e.g. to switch used panel from article list to menu.



Toggles between read and unread state for currently selected article.



Stars or unstars currently selected article.


Marks all unread articles from currently displayed feed (or category with its descendants) as read.


Shows both unread and read entries. Modifies show-read option.


Shows only unread entries. Modifies show-read option.



Instantly refreshes list of articles.


Downloads articles for offline read, up to the sync-article-count limit. Only works if Feed Commas is online.


Toggles between offline and online modes.



Opens selected article in a default web browser.

Refer to the documentation of your Operating System on how to configure one. Usually setting $BROWSER environment variable should be sufficient.



Quits Feed Commas.

Key values can contain modifiers, but they heavily depend on what keycodes terminal sends. For example, terminals usually won’t explicitly send shift, but uppercase letters instead (so instead of mapping shift+e, map E).

Any combination of ctrl and alt modifiers is available as c- and a- prefixes. Other keys are also available:

Table 5. Special keys
Key on keyboard config.ini notation















Page Up

page up

Page Down

page down












Use lower case

Non-character keys should be written lower-case! Instead of typing F5, type f5, page down, enter and so on.


[settings] section contains options affecting various behaviours of Feed Commas.

Table 6. [settings] options
Option Default value Description



Time (in seconds) after which currently selected article will be marked as read. If set to 0, articles will be marked as read immediately. If set to -1, articles won’t be automatically marked as read.

It’s advised to be kept as positive integer, which will prevent marking articles as unread when scrolling through an article list.



If set to true, all articles will be shown on the article list. If set to false, only unread articles will be shown. Using show-all or show-unread command automatically changes this setting so after application restart, the last state is used.



Number of colors supported by terminal. Most terminals nowdays support at least 256 colors, so if things work for you, don’t change this setting.

Valid values: 1, 16, 88, 256



Display bright colors as bold (some terminals work that way). Change it to true if you don’t see a difference when using bright colors.



Method of filtering HTML in received entries so they’re readable. Can be either of the following:

  • builtin - simple (and inaccurate) builtin filtering method. Quite fast and doesn’t need any additional dependencies.

  • none or unset option - filtering is disabled and HTML is printed exactly as received

  • any filter command - external command, which accepts HTML on its stdin and converts it to a readable output on its stdout. Some text-based browsers (lynx, elinks) support such mode. Make sure to read a tip about commands if you want to use this option.



When set to true, Feed Commas will only display articles which were previously saved for offline read and won’t request updates from remote Comma Feed service. When using Feed Commas in online mode, all articles are automatically saved and updated to match Comma Feed state.


Feed Commas

Some terminals and terminal multiplexers allow setting title of terminal window. If this option is set, Feed Commas will try to change a title to its value.



Number of worker processes used for various tasks, like communicating with CommaFeed. If this option is unset, workers will be spawned in a number equal to available CPU cores.


{unread}{offline} {notif}

Parameters displayed on status line. The value of status-line is displayed literally and any parameters in curly braces ({ and }) are replaced with a status string. To print curly braces themselves, escape them by doubling: {{ and }}.

The following parameters are available:

  • {offline} - displays 'o' when offline mode is turned on;

  • {unread} - displays 'u' when show-read is turned off;

  • {notif} - shows any current notification (e.g. synchronization progress).



Maximum number of articles to be downloaded from Comma Feed for offline access. It usually doesn’t make any sense to set this limit to more than 1000 because Comma Feed only stores the last 1000 RSS entries.

html-filter commands usage

Both lynx and elinks work very well as html-filter. Keep in mind however that they can slow down obtaining entries a little because an external process must be started separately for each entry.

The best results are achieved when they are configured with a dump wide enough, so that Feed Commas can take care of line wrapping:

html-filter = elinks -dump -dump-width 500
html-filter = lynx -dump -width 500 -stdin


Different parts of Feed Commas can be colorized to your liking by setting different options in [colors] section. Default values are sensible, but the end-result depends on terminal’s color capabilities. Color can be empty, in which case

Table 7. [colors] options
Option Default value Affected elements



Color of article’s title.


light blue

Color of currently selected article’s title.


light blue

Color of currently selected article’s border.


light gray

Various meta data information: article’s publication date, article’s header, various indicators on articles list, number of unread articles in menu etc.



Foreground color of currently selected menu item.


light blue

Background color of currently selected menu item.


dark gray

Color of currently active feed or category.



Foreground color of status line.


light gray

Background color of status line.


dark gray

Color of line separating menu and article list.



Foreground color of errors displayed in commandline.


dark red

Background color of errors displayed in commandline.

Monochrome, 16-, 88- and 256-color terminals are supported. As a color name you can use any of standard color values: black, dark red, dark green, brown, dark blue, dark magenta, dark cyan, light gray, dark gray, light red, light green, yellow, light blue, light magenta, light cyan, white. For terminals which support that, you can also use other notations:

  • #fcc: hex like HTML color;

  • g40: decimal value: 40% of gray

  • g#cc: hex value: 80% of gray

  • h255: color number 255

For different terminals colors are configured in different ways, but most often they’re defined in ~/.Xresources file. Consult your terminal’s documentation for details.

Apart from color name, you can specify some text attributes, which should be placed after comma. These attributes include bold, underline, blink and standout. Color value can be omitted, in which case a default foreground or background color for your terminal will be used.

Table 8. Color setting examples
Setting Description

dark gray

Set color to "dark gray" standard color.


Set font to bold red.


Set font to bold. Default color will be used (depending on which option is set)

Appendix A: Program options

The following parameters can be passed to Feed Commas when it’s started:

General options

-c, --config=CONFIG_FILE

Use a CONFIG_FILE as Feed Commas' configuration file. This file is used instead of the one which would be normally found by a default configuration search. If CONFIG_FILE doesn’t exists, it is created.

Feed Commas reports if CONFIG_FILE is incorrect somehow or if it couldn’t be created and quits in that case.

Program information


Prints a short summary of available program options and quits.


Prints a version of Feed Commas and quits.

Appendix B: License

Copyright © 2017 Michał Góral.

Feed Commas is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

Feed Commas is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with Feed Commas. If not, see http://www.gnu.org/licenses/.