Reader Self 3.5 is a simple and flexible, free and open source, self-hosted RSS reader and Google Reader alternative. Reader Self supports the main keyboard shortcuts from Google Reader, OPML import, built-in authentication, HTTPS image proxying (to download HTTP images), syncing starred items with Pinboard, ability to share across major social networks, Elastic Search integration, and is beautifully responsive across desktop, tablet, and mobile.
In this tutorial, we are going to install Reader Self 3.5 on a Debian 9 LAMP VPS using Apache web server, PHP 7.1, and a MariaDB database.
We will start by adding a new
First, log into your server as
sudo command isn't installed by default in the Vultr Debian 9 server instance, so we will first install
apt-get -y install sudo
Now add a new user called
user1 (or your preferred username):
When prompted, enter a secure and memorable password. You will also be prompted for your "Full Name" and some other details, but you can simply leave them blank by pressing
Now check the
/etc/sudoers file to make sure that the
sudoers group is enabled:
Look for a section like this:
%sudo ALL=(ALL:ALL) ALL
This line tells us that users who are members of the
sudo group can use the
sudo command to gain
root privileges. It will be uncommented by default so you can simply exit the file.
Next we need to add
user1 to the
usermod -aG sudo user1
We can verify the
user1 group membership and check that the
usermod command worked with the
Now use the
su command to switch to the new sudo user
su - user1
The command prompt will update to indicate that you are now logged into the
user1 account. You can verify this with the
Now restart the
sshd service so that you can login via
ssh with the new non-root sudo user account you have just created:
sudo systemctl restart sshd
root account (which will disconnect your
You can now
ssh into the server instance from your local host using the new non-root sudo user
If you want to execute sudo without having to type a password every time, then open the
/etc/sudoers file again, using
Edit the section for the
sudo group so that it looks like this:
%sudo ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: ALL
Please note: Disabling the password requirement for the sudo user is not a recommended practice, but it is included here as it can make server configuration much more convenient and less frustrating, especially during longer systems administration sessions. If you are concerned about the security implications, you can always revert the configuration change to the original after you finish your administration tasks.
Whenever you want to log into the
root user account from within the
sudo user account, you can use one of the following commands:
sudo -i sudo su -
You can exit the
root account and return back to your
sudo user account any time by simply typing the following:
Before installing any packages on the Debian server instance, we will first update the system.
Make sure you are logged into the server using a non-root sudo user and run the following commands:
sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get -y upgrade
Install the Apache web server:
sudo apt-get -y install apache2
Then use the
systemctl command to start and enable Apache to execute automatically at boot time:
sudo systemctl enable apache2 sudo systemctl start apache2
Check your Apache default site configuration file to ensure that the
DocumentRoot directive points to the correct directory:
sudo vi /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/000-default.conf
DocumentRoot configuration option will look like this:
We now need to enable the
mod_rewrite Apache module, so ensure that your Apache default site configuration file is still open, and add the following
Directory Apache directives just before the closing
</VirtualHost> tag, so that the end of your configuration file looks like this:
<Directory /var/www/html/> Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews AllowOverride All Order allow,deny allow from all </Directory> </VirtualHost>
The most important directive shown above is
Now save and exit the file, and enable the
mod_rewrite Apache module:
sudo a2enmod rewrite
We will restart Apache at the end of this tutorial, but restarting Apache regularly during installation and configuration is certainly a good habit, so let's do it now:
sudo systemctl restart apache2
We can now install PHP 7.0 along with all of the necessary PHP modules required by Reader Self:
sudo apt-get -y install php php-gd php-mbstring php-common php-mysql php-imagick php-xml libapache2-mod-php php-curl php-tidy php-zip
Debian 9 defaults to using MariaDB database server, which is an enhanced, fully open source, community developed, drop-in replacement for MySQL server.
Install MariaDB database server:
sudo apt-get -y install mariadb-server
Start and enable MariaDB server to execute automatically at boot time:
sudo systemctl enable mariadb sudo systemctl start mariadb
Secure your MariaDB server installation:
root password will be blank, so simply hit enter when prompted for the
When prompted to create a MariaDB/MySQL
root user, select "Y" (for yes) and then enter a secure
root password. Simply answer "Y" to all of the other yes/no questions as the default suggestions are the most secure options.
Log into the MariaDB shell as the MariaDB
root user by running the following command:
sudo mariadb -u root -p
To access the MariaDB command prompt, simply enter the MariaDB
root password when prompted.
Run the following queries to create a MariaDB database and database user for Reader Self:
CREATE DATABASE self_db CHARACTER SET utf8 COLLATE utf8_general_ci; CREATE USER 'self_user'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'UltraSecurePassword'; GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON self_db.* TO 'self_user'@'localhost'; FLUSH PRIVILEGES; EXIT;
You can replace the database name
self_db and username
self_user with something more to your liking, if you prefer. Also, make sure that you replace "UltraSecurePassword" with an actually secure password.
Change your current working directory to the default web directory:
If you get an error message saying something like
'No such file or directory' then try the following command:
cd /var/www/ ; sudo mkdir html ; cd html
Your current working directory will now be:
/var/www/html/. You can check this with the
pwd (print working directory) command:
wget to download the Reader Self installation package:
sudo wget --content-disposition https://github.com/readerself/readerself/archive/3.5.6.zip
Please note: You should definitely check for the most recent version by visiting the Reader Self download page.
List the current directory to check that you have successfully downloaded the file:
sudo rm index.html
Let's quickly install
unzip so we can unzip the file:
sudo apt-get -y install unzip
Now uncompress the zip archive:
sudo unzip readerself-3.5.6.zip
Move all of the installation files to the web root directory:
sudo mv -v readerself-3.5.6/* readerself-3.5.6/.* /var/www/html 2>/dev/null
Change ownership of the web files to avoid any permissions problems:
sudo chown -R www-data:www-data * ./
Restart Apache again:
sudo systemctl restart apache2
Now we're ready to move onto the final step.
It's now time to visit the IP address of your server instance in your browser, or if you've already configured your Vultr DNS settings (and given it enough time to propagate) you can simply visit your domain instead.
To access the Reader Self installation page, enter your Vultr instance IP address into your browser address bar, followed by
You will see a
Pre-Installation Check at the top of the page so make sure that everything looks okay and proceed to the next step.
Enter the following database values in the
Database section of the installation page:
Database Type: MySQL (improved version) Hostname: localhost Username: self_user Password: UltraSecurePassword Database Name: self_db
Enter the following
Email: <your email address> Password: <a secure password>
Once you have checked that all of the above details are okay, simply click on the tick icon in the bottom left of the page to finalize the installation.
You will be redirected to a confirmation that says
To further configure Reader Self, click on the menu in the top right corner and select
If you want the reader to auto-update your feeds (and you almost certainly do), you will need to edit your crontab:
sudo crontab -e
Add the following line to refresh your feeds hourly:
0 * * * * www-data cd /var/www/html && php index.php refresh items
If you haven't yet configured your Vultr DNS settings, you can do so using the Vultr DNS control panel.
It's also advisable to configure your site to use SSL as most modern browsers will give warnings when sites do not have SSL enabled and SSL certificates are now available for free.
In any case, you are now ready to start adding your feeds and further customizing the look and functionality of your reader.