Desktop Reddit Clients Walkthrough

What piques my interest in Reddit desktop clients? For starters, there is a paucity of Reddit desktop clients available in Linux Mint’s package managers. The Synaptic Package Manager does offer a package for Unity Webapp for Reddit. This is in contrast to say Twitter clients where there are more clients available such as Corebird and bti. Is there a need for a Reddit desktop client? In my opinion, definitely yes. Their website is functional, but it does not organize the content in the most efficient and intuitive way, at least for my purposes. And the desktop clients offer advanced features such as infinite column scrolling, and delivery of text-only versions of articles.

In case you have been away from the social media scene for the past decade, a quick recap. Reddit is a popular content sharing platform where registered users submit content to the site in the form of links and comments. The links typically point to news and blog articles, videos and pictures. Users have the ability to vote on these submissions, with the collective votes determining what content is considered good and what is regarded as rubbish. The voting mechanism enables submissions to be ranked on reddit’s various pages. This social news site is a good way to keep up-to-date with the latest news on a wide variety of topics, and to share what interests you with others. It receives in excess of 3-4 million views per month, which is testament to the power of social news.

To help members find news that is interesting to them, Reddit has created various subreddits, each of which represents a community with a specific interest or goal. This helps to ensure that the content is well organized and quick to find.

This is a survey of 4 Reddit desktop clients. I begin with Reditr which receives a hearty recommendation. It’s excellent and discerning graphical interface is a breeze to use. I am a strong advocate of terminal applications. So I couldn’t miss this opportunity to showcase RTV, an efficient way to browse and contribute to Reddit from the terminal. I finish this roundup with 2 other graphical clients. The first is Something for Reddit which is a promising client but in a very early stage of development. The latter is Unity Webapp for Reddit.


Reditr

Reditr is an open source multi-platform application that offers a desktop client for the Reddit website. It supports Debian and Red Hat based distributions with 32 and 64-bit packages available from the developer’s website, as well as support for the Windows and OS X operating systems. You can also add Reditr to the Chrome web browser. Reditr was developed to offer users a simple way to navigate Reddit. Notably, this application lets users keep up to date with the latest posts and comments on favorite subreddits in easy-to-read columns or in a stream view. The client supports multiple accounts, desktop notifications, and lots more.

The layout of Reditr is reminiscent of the TweekDeck application and works very efficiently. Subreddits are organized into tiles, full-text versions of articles are embedded above comments and all images can be quickly previewed.

I ran into a minor issue with installation.  The deb package would not install on my Linux Mint 18.1 Serena system complaining that a dependency was not satisfied. Specifically, libudev0 was missing, a dynamic library to access udev device information. While libudev1 is installed on my Mint distro, this does not meet the dependency requirement.  There are a few simple ways around this problem. There is a deb file for the earlier version of the  library. Pointing Firefox at https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/udev/175-0ubuntu19/+build/4325788/+files/libudev0_175-0ubuntu19_amd64.deb enabled me to install the offending library. Alternatively, you can symbolically link libudev.so.1 to lib.udev.so.0.

The application starts with a brief tutorial showcasing the application’s features includes its column view, how to change to a different subreddit, adding/changing reddit accounts, as well as some helpful tips.

Reditr is an excellent application, making the Reddit experience more enjoyable. A screen shot of Reditr in action:

Reditr with 3 columns

Features:

  • View multiple subreddits at once via column interface
  • Infinite column scrolling (an experimental feature)
  • Instantly reply to any message or post you see without leaving the page
  • Automatic draft saving– do not lose content
  • Navigate through comments intelligently with many sorting options added to Reddit’s defaults
  • View your Reddit browsing history
  • Highlight new comments since last visit
  • Import tags with RES (Reddit Enhancement Suite)
  • View post/link contents and comments simultaneously
  • Desktop notifications
  • User tagging system (give users multiple tags & synchronizes)
  • Friend manager
  • Subreddits update automatically
  • Cross device account synchronization
  • Private messages into interactive chat
  • Load all comments automatically
  • Bulk private messages sender
  • Custom columns (follow friends, multiple subreddits etc)
  • Hover-zoom for images and other content
  • Live notifications (messages, replies etc)
  • Customizable hotkeys
  • Full comment controls
  • Save posts & comments
  • Moderation tools
  • Gallery mode for picture intense subreddits
  • Dark and light themes with configurable font size, column width, scrollbar width, turn on/off visual animations, select different backgrounds
  • Filter phrases, domains, subreddits. Filtering is case sensitive
  • Custom signatures
  • Multiple account support
  • Search capabilities
  • User profile viewer
  • Macro support
  • Internationalization support

Reddit Terminal Viewer (RTV)

RTV provides an interface to view and interact with Reddit from your terminal. It is the finest open source Reddit console tool.

This software is built using Python and the curses library. As RTV does not have a Mint package, I chose to install the client by the author’s recommended method: the pip package manager, a package management system to install and manage software packages written in Python. At a shell:

$ sudo apt install python-pip
$ sudo pip install rtv

Unfortunately, this failed to install RTV, as shown by the output below:

RTV – failed to install

The warning message states “ImportError: No module named setuptools is telling me that the setup.py file needs setuptools”. Some Python packages use setuptools as a distribution. RTV is one such application. To install setuptools on Mint is simple:

sudo apt install python-setuptools

Success!

RTV in operation

Features:

  • As a console application, browse reddit from the console or shell
  • Sort by hot, top, rising, new and controversial
  • Open image and video urls with the user’s mailcap file
  • Upvote and downvote
  • Compose, edit and delete a new submission/comment
  • Instagram parser to extract images and videos from urls
  • View subscribed multireddits
  • Save submissions and comments
  • Extract urls from comments using urlviewer
  • Monochrome config setting
  • Keyboard shortcuts which are rebindable
  • Integration including Travis-Cl, Coveralls, and Gitter
  • Website: RTV Homepage
  • Developer: Michael Lazar
  • License: MIT License
  • Version Number: 1.13.0

Something for Reddit

Something for Reddit (originally known as Reddit is GTK+) is a simple open-source Reddit client for the GNOME desktop environment. It is built for touch, mouse and VIM keyboards.  The software is written in Python, but the author is rewriting the application in Vala. The simple desktop client features dark and light theme, with a built-in browser.

The tool is in a very early stage of development. The author has published one stable release, version 0.2. There are packages available for the Fedora, Arch Linux and openSUSE distros, as well as Ubuntu packages from getdeb.

Installation was the least straightforward of the 4 clients featured here. I needed to install the software by compiling the source code as I was unable to promptly locate a Mint package. From a fairly vanilla Mint distribution, there are a number of libraries to install before compiling the code. These include gnome-common (an extension to autoconf, automake and libtool for the GNOME environment and GNOME using applications), python-arrow (a Python3 library that offers a sensible, human-friendly approach to creating, manipulating, formatting and converting dates, times, and timestamp), and python3-markdown (at ext-to-HTML conversion library/tool).

These are installed with the command.

$ sudo apt install gnome-common python3-arrow python3-markdown

Something for Reddit also requires an SCSS compiler to compile the source code. I went for an elegant solution; ruby-sass, a powerful CSS compiler. You may already have ruby installed on your system, but with my vanilla Mint installation alas it isn’t included. They are installed with the command.

$ sudo apt install ruby sass

The standard Mint distribution is also missing some other key libraries. This was rectified as follows:

$ sudo apt install gobject-introspection libglib2.0-dev libsoup2.4-dev libwebkit2gtk-4.0 libjson-glib-dev

I downloaded the only stable release of the software (version 0.2), something-for-reddit-0.2.tar.gz. To unpack and compile:

$ tar zxvf something-for-reddit-0.2.tar.gz
$ cd something-for-reddit-0.2/
$ ./autogen.sh
$ make
$ make install

The application then compiled without a hitch. To start the client, type reddit-is-gtk at a shell. This is the previous name of the software but the author ran into a breach of Reddit’s trademark policy. Software is allowed to use the word Reddit in the name as long as the word “for” precedes it. This necessitated the author to change the name of the application to Something for Reddit.

The client isn’t very stable in use on Mint. It is prone to frequent crashes. But this is expected as the utility is in a very early stage of development. This is a promising tool, but too early in development for seasoned reddit users.

Something for Reddit in operation

Features include:

  • Touchscreen tested interface
  • VIM style keyboard shortcuts
  • View subreddits, comments and user pages
  • Vote on comments and links, write replies
  • Integrated WebKit2 browser for viewing links
  • Themes: Dark and light support
  • Multi-account support

Unity Webapp for Reddit

Unlike the other applications, Unity Webapp for Reddit can be installed using the Synaptic Package Manager or the Software Manager. Installation is a breeze, with the package manager automatically installing all missing dependencies. This is how software installation should work.

Unity Webapp for Reddit in operation

Features:

  • Fast
  • Infinite scroll
  • Quick access to sub-reddits and popular content
  • Autoplays GIFs

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