Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
Alright, so the app we’re highlighting today isn’t quite the binary version of an old newspaper seller. But it is a great way to have the latest news brought to you, on your desktop, in a timely fashion.
Tickr is a GTK-based news ticker for the Linux desktop that scrolls the latest headlines and article titles from your favourite RSS feeds in horizontal strip that you can place anywhere on your desktop.
Call me Joey Calamezzo; I put mine on the bottom TV news station style.
“Over to you, sub-heading.”
RSS — Remember That?
“Thanks paragraph ending.”
In an era of push notifications, social media, and clickbait, cajoling us into reading the latest mind-blowing, humanity saving listicle ASAP, RSS can seem a bit old hat.
For me? Well, RSS lives up to its name of Really Simple Syndication. It’s the easiest, most manageable way to have news come to me. I can manage and read stuff when I want; there’s no urgency to view lest the tweet vanish into the stream or the push notification vanish.
The beauty of Tickr is in its utility. You can have a constant stream of news trundling along the bottom of your screen, which you can passively glance at from time to time.
There’s no pressure to ‘read’ or ‘mark all read’ or any of that. When you see something you want to read you just click it to open it in a web browser.
Setting it Up
Although Tickr is available to install from the Ubuntu Software Centre it hasn’t been updated for a long time. Nowhere is this sense of abandonment more keenly felt than when opening the unwieldy and unintuitive configuration panel.
To open it:
- Right click on the Tickr bar
- Go to Edit > Preferences
- Adjust the various settings
Row after row of options and settings, few of which seem to make sense at first. But poke and prod around and you’ll controls for pretty much everything, including:
- Set scrolling speed
- Choose behaviour when mousing over
- Feed update frequency
- Font, including font sizes and color
- Separator character (‘delineator’)
- Position of Tickr on screen
- Color and opacity of Tickr bar
- Choose how many articles each feed displays
One ‘quirk’ worth mentioning is that pressing the ‘Apply’ only updates the on-screen Tickr to preview changes. For changes to take effect when you exit the Preferences window you need to click ‘OK’.
Getting the bar to sit flush on your display can also take a fair bit of tweaking, especially on Unity.
Press the “full width button” to have the app auto-detect your screen width. By default when placed at the top or bottom it leaves a 25px gap (the app was created back in the days of GNOME 2.x desktops). After hitting the top or bottom buttons just add an extra 25 pixels to the input box compensate for this.
Other options available include: choose which browser articles open in; whether Tickr appears within a regular window frame; whether a clock is shown; and how often the app checks feed for articles.
Tickr comes with a built-in list of over 30 different feeds, ranging from technology blogs to mainstream news services.
You can select as many of these as you like to show headlines in the on screen ticker. If you want to add your own feeds you can: –
- Right click on the Tickr bar
- Go to File > Open Feed
- Enter Feed URL
- Click ‘Add/Upd’ button
- Click ‘OK (select)’
To set how many items from each feed shows in the ticker change the “Read N items max per feed” in the other preferences window.
Install Tickr in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and Up
So that’s Tickr. It’s not going to change the world but it will keep you abreast of what’s happening in it.
To install it in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS or later head to the Ubuntu Software Centre but clicking the button below.