The clean & modern RSS server that doesn't give you any crap.
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The Advanced RSS Environment

The Arsse is a news aggregator server which implements multiple synchronization protocols, including version 1.2 of NextCloud News’ protocol and the Tiny Tiny RSS protocol (details below). Unlike most other aggregator servers, The Arsse does not include a Web front-end (though one is planned as a separate project), and it relies on existing protocols to maximize compatibility with existing clients.

At present the software should be considered in an “alpha” state: though its core subsystems are covered by unit tests and should be free of major bugs, not everything has been rigorously tested. Additionally, many features one would expect from other similar software have yet to be implemented. Areas of future work include:

  • Support for more database engines (PostgreSQL, MySQL, MariaDB)
  • Providing more sync protocols (Google Reader, Fever, others)
  • Complete tools for managing users
  • Better packaging and configuration samples


The Arsse has the following requirements:

  • A Linux server utilizing systemd and Nginx (tested on Ubuntu 16.04)
  • PHP 7.0.7 or later with the following extensions:
  • Privileges to create and run daemon processes on the server


At present, installation of The Arsse is rather manual. We hope to improve this in the future, but for now the steps below should help get you started. The instructions and configuration samples assume you will be using Ubuntu 16.04 (or equivalent Debian) and Nginx; we hope to expand official support for different configurations in the future as well.

Initial setup

  1. Extract the tar archive to /usr/share
  2. If desired, create /usr/share/arsse/config.php using config.defaults.php as a guide. The file you create only needs to contain non-default settings. The userPreAuth setting may be of particular interest
  3. Copy /usr/share/arsse/dist/arsse.service to /lib/systemd/system
  4. In a terminal, execute the following to start the feed fetching service:
sudo systemctl enable arsse
sudo systemctl start arsse

Configuring the Web server and PHP

Sample configuration parameters for Nginx can be found in arsse/dist/nginx.conf and arsse/dist/nginx-fcgi.conf; the samples assume a server group has already been defined for PHP. How to configure an Nginx service to use PHP and install the required PHP extensions is beyond the scope of this document, however.

Adding users

The Arsse currently includes a user add <username> [<password>] console command to add users to the database; other user management tasks require manual database edits. Alternatively, if the Web server is configured to handle authentication, you may set the configuration option userPreAuth to true and The Arsse will defer to the server and automatically add any missing users as it encounters them.

Installation from source

If installing from the Git repository rather than a download package, you will need to follow extra steps before the instructions in the section above.

First, you must install Composer to fetch required PHP libraries. Once Composer is installed, dependencies may be downloaded with the following command:

php composer.phar install -o --no-dev --no-scripts

Second, you may wish to create an example configuration file using the following command:

php ./arsse.php conf save-defaults "./config.defaults.php"


The Arsse is made available under the permissive MIT license. See the LICENSE and AUTHORS files included with the distribution or source code for exact legal text and copyright holders. Dependencies included in the distribution may be governed by other licenses.


Please refer to for guidelines on contributing code to The Arsse.

Protocol compatibility notes


Type casting

The Arsse does not guarantee it will handle type casting of input in the same way as reference implementations for its supported protocols. As a general rule, clients should endeavour to send only correct input.

The Arsse does, however, guarantee output to be of the same type. If it is not, this is a bug and should be reported.

Content sanitization

The Arsse makes use of the picoFeed newsfeed parsing library to sanitize article content. The exact sanitization parameters may differ from those of reference implementations for protocols The Arsse supports.

NextCloud News v1.2

As a general rule, The Arsse should yield the same output as the reference implementation for all valid inputs (otherwise you’ve found a bug), but there are exception, either because the NextCloud News (hereafter “NCN”) protocol description is at times ambiguous or incomplete, or because implementation details necessitate it differ; this section along with the General section above detail these differences.


  • Article GUID hashes are not hashes like in NCN; they are integers rendered as strings
  • Article fingerprints are a combination of hashes rather than a single hash
  • When marking articles as starred the feed ID is ignored, as they are not needed to establish uniqueness
  • The feed updater ignores the userId parameter: feeds in The Arsse are deduplicated, and have no owner
  • The /feeds/all route lists only feeds which should be checked for updates, and it also returns all userId attributes as empty strings: feeds in The Arsse are deduplicated, and have no owner
  • The updater console commands mentioned in the protocol specification are not implemented, as The Arsse does not implement the required NextCloud subsystems
  • The lastLoginTimestamp attribute of the user metadata is always the current time: The Arsse’s implementation of the protocol is fully stateless


  • NCN specifies that GET parameters are treated “the same” as request body parameters; it does not specify what to do in cases where they conflict. The Arsse chooses to give GET parameters precedence
  • NCN does not define validity of folder and names other than to specify that the empty string is invalid. The Arsse further considers any string composed only of whitesapce to be invalid
  • NCN does not specify a return code for bulk-marking operations without a newestItemId provided; The Arsse returns 422
  • NCN does not specify what should be done when creating a feed in a folder which does not exist; the Arsse adds the feed to the root folder
  • NCN does not specify what should be done when moving a feed to a folder which does not exist; The Arsse return 422
  • NCN does not specify what should be done when renaming a feed to an invalid title, nor what constitutes an invalid title; The Arsse uses the same rules as it does for folders, and returns 422 in cases of rejection

Tiny Tiny RSS

As a general rule, The Arsse should yield the same output as the reference implementation for all valid inputs (otherwise you’ve found a bug), but there are exception, either because the Tiny Tiny RSS (hereafter “TTRSS”) protocol description is incomplete, erroneous, or out of date, or because TTRSS itself is buggy, or because implementation details necessitate The Arsse differ; this section along with the General section above detail these differences.

Extended functionality

The Arsse supports both the set of extensions to the TTRSS protocol defined by FeedReader, as well as the getCompactHeadlines operation defined by News+.

We are not aware of any other extensions to the TTRSS protocol. If you know of any more, please let us know.

Missing features

  • The getPref operation is not implemented; it returns UNKNOWN_METHOD
  • The shareToPublished operation is not implemented; it returns UNKNOWN_METHOD
  • Setting an article’s “published” flag with the updateArticle operation is not implemented and will gracefully fail
  • The search parameter of the getHeadlines operation is not implemented; the operation will proceed as if no search string were specified
  • The sanitize, force_update, and has_sandbox parameters of the getHeadlines operation are ignored
  • String feed_id values for the getCompactHeadlines operation are not supported and will yield an INCORRECT_USAGE error
  • Articles are limited to a single attachment rather than multiple attachments


  • Input that cannot be parsed as JSON normally returns a NOT_LOGGED_IN error; The Arsse returns a non-standard MALFORMED_INPUT error instead
  • Feed, category, and label names are normally unrestricted; The Arsse rejects empty strings, as well as strings composed solely of whitespace
  • Discovering multiple feeds during subscribeToFeed processing normally produces an error; The Arsse instead chooses the first feed it finds
  • Providing the setArticleLabel operation with an invalid label normally silently fails; The Arsse returns an INVALID_USAGE error instead
  • Article hashes are normally SHA1; The Arsse uses SHA256 hashes
  • Article attachments normally have unique IDs; The Arsse always gives attachments an ID of "0"
  • The default sort order of the getHeadlines operation normally uses custom sorting for “special” feeds; The Arsse’s default sort order is equivalent to feed_dates for all feeds
  • The getCounters operation normally omits members with zero unread; The Arsse includes everything to appease some clients

Other notes

  • TTRSS accepts base64-encoded passwords, though this is undocumented; The Arsse accepts base64-encoded passwords as well
  • TTRSS sometimes returns an incorrect count from the setArticleLabel operation; The Arsse returns a correct count in all cases
  • TTRSS sometimes returns out-of-date cached information; The Arsse does not use caches as TTRSS does, so information is always current
  • TTRSS returns results for feed ID -3 when providing the getHeadlines operation with category ID -3; The Arsse retuns the correct results
  • The protocol doucmentation advises not to use limit or skip together with unread_only for the getFeeds operation as it produces unpredictable results; The Arsse produces predictable results by first retrieving all unread feeds and then applying skip and limit
  • The protocol documentation on values for the view_mode parameter of the getHeadlines operation is out of date; The Arsse matches the actual implementation and supports the undocumented published and has_note values exposed by the Web user interface
  • The protocol documentation makes mention of a search_mode parameter for the getHeadlines operation, but this seems to be ignored; The Arsse does not implement it
  • The protocol documentation makes mention of an output_mode parameter for the getCounters operation, but this seems to be ignored; The Arsse does not implement it
  • The documentation for the getCompactHeadlines operation states the default value for limit is 20, but the reference implementation defaults to unlimited; The Arsse also defaults to unlimited
  • It is assumed TTRSS exposes undocumented behaviour; unless otherwise noted The Arsse only implements documented behaviour