feed2exec manual page


feed2exec {add,ls,rm,fetch,import,export}


This command will take a configured set of feeds and fire specific plugin for every new item found in the feed.


--version Show the version and exit.
--loglevel choose specific log level [default: WARNING]
-v, --verbose show what is happening (loglevel: VERBOSE)
-d, --debug show debugging information (loglevel: DEBUG)
--syslog LEVEL send LEVEL logs to syslog
--config TEXT configuration directory
-h, --help Show this message and exit.


Saving feed items to a Maildir folder:

feed2exec add "NASA breaking news" https://www.nasa.gov/rss/dyn/breaking_news.rss --folder nasa
feed2exec fetch

This creates the equivalent of this configuration file in ~/.config/feed2exec/feed2exec.ini:

output = feed2exec.plugins.maildir
mailbox = '~/Maildir'

[NASA breaking news]
folder = nasa
url = https://www.nasa.gov/rss/dyn/breaking_news.rss

Send new feed items to Transmission:

feed2exec add "Example torrent list" http://example.com/torrents/feed --output feed2exec.plugins.exec --args 'transmission-remote marcos.anarc.at -a '{item.link}' -w /srv/incoming'

Send new feed items to Mastodon, using the toot commandline client:

feed2exec add "My torrent" http://example.com/blog/feed --output feed2exec.plugins.exec --args 'toot post "{item.title} {item.link}"'

Send new feed items to Twitter, using the tweet commandline client from python-twitter:

feed2exec add "My torrent" http://example.com/blog/feed --output feed2exec.plugins.exec --args 'tweet "{item.title:40s} {item.link:100s}"'

Show feed contents:

feed2exec add "NASA breaking news" https://www.nasa.gov/rss/dyn/breaking_news.rss --output feed2exec.plugins.echo --args "{item.title} {item.link}"
feed2exec fetch


  • fetch:

    fetch [--parallel | -p | --jobs N | -j N] [--force | -f] [pattern]

    The fetch command iterates through all the configured feeds or those matching the pattern substring if provided.


    skip reading and writing the cache and will consider all entries as new


    do not run output plugins, equivalent of setting the output plugin to feed2exec.plugins.null


    run parsing in the background to improve performance

    --jobs N

    run N tasks in parallel maximum. implies --parallel which defaults to the number of CPUs detected on the machine

  • add:

    add [--output PLUGIN [--args ARG [ARG [...]]] [--filter PLUGIN] NAME URL

    The add command adds the given feed NAME that will be fetched from the provided URL.

    --output PLUGIN

    use PLUGIN as an output module. defaults to feed2exec.plugins.maildir to store in a mailbox. use feed2exec.plugins.null to just fetch the feed without fetching anything.

    --args ARGS

    pass arguments ARGS to the output module. supports interpolation of feed parameters using, for example {title}

    --filter PLUGIN

    filter feed items through the PLUGIN filter plugin

    --mailbox PATH

    folder to store email into, defaults to ~/Maildir.

    --folder PATH

    subfolder to store the email into

    Those parameters are documented more extensively in their equivalent settings in the configuration file, see below.

  • ls:

    The ls command lists all configured feeds as JSON packets.

  • rm:

    rm NAME

    Remove the feed named NAME from the configuration.

  • import:

    import PATH

    Import feeds from the file named PATH. The file is expected to have outline elements and only the title and xmlUrl elements are imported, as NAME and URL parameters, respectively.

  • export:

    export PATH

    Export feeds into the file named PATH. The file will use the feed NAME elements as title and the URL as xmlUrl.


Configuration file

Any files used by feed2exec is stored in the config directory, in ~/.config/feed2exec/ or $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/feed2exec. It can also be specified with the --config commandline parameter. The main configuration file is in called feed2exec.ini. The above commandline will yield the following configuration:

[NASA breaking news]
url = https://www.nasa.gov/rss/dyn/breaking_news.rss
output = feed2exec.plugins.echo
args = {title} {link}

Naturally, those settings can be changed directly in the config file. Note that there is a [DEFAULT] section that can be used to apply settings to all feeds. For example, this will make all feeds store new items in a maildir subfolder:

output = feed2exec.plugins.maildir
folder = feeds

This way individual feeds do not need to be individually configured.


feed2exec does not take care of adding the folder to “subscriptions” in the mailbox. it is assumed that folders are auto-susbcribed or the user ignores subscription. if that is a problem, you should subscribe to the folder by hand in your email client when you add a new config. you can also subscribe to a folder (say feeds above) directly using the doveadm mailbox subscribe feeds command in Dovecot, for example.

The following configuration parameters are supported:

Human readable name for the feed. Equivalent to the NAME argument in the add command.
Address to fetch the feed from. Can be HTTP or HTTPS, but also file:// resources for test purposes.
Output plugin to use. Equivalent to the --output option in the add command.
Arguments to pass to the output plugin. Equivalent to the --args option in the add command.
Filter plugin to use. Equivalent to the --filter option in the add command.
Store emails in that mailbox prefix. Defaults to ~/Maildir.
Subfolder to use when writing to a mailbox. By default, a slugified version of the feed name (where spaces and special character are replaced by -) is used. For example, the feed named “NASA breaking news” would be stored in ~/Maildir/nasa-breaking-news/.
Skip to the latest feed items. The feed is still read and parsed, and new feed items are added to the database, but output plugins are never called.
Completely skip feed during fetch or parse. Similar to catchup, but doesn’t fetch the feed at all and doesn’t touch the cache.

Here is a more complete example configuration with all the settings used:

# this section will apply to all feeds
# special folder location for maildir. I use this when I have multiple
# accounts synchronized with Offlineimap
mailbox = ~/Maildir/Remote/

# a feed to store NASA breaking news entry in a "nasa" subfolder
# this also demonstrates the droptitle filter
[NASA breaking news]
url = https://www.nasa.gov/rss/dyn/breaking_news.rss
folder = nasa
filter = feed2exec.plugins.droptitle
filter_args = trump

# some maildir storage require dots to get subfolders. for example,
# this will store messages in INBOX/feeds/images/ on Dovecot
[NASA image of the day]
url = https://www.nasa.gov/rss/dyn/lg_image_of_the_day.rss
folder = .feeds.images

# same feed, but save to wayback machine
[NASA IOTD wayback]
url = https://www.nasa.gov/rss/dyn/lg_image_of_the_day.rss
output = feed2exec.plugins.wayback

# this demonstrates the emptysummary filter, which fixes GitHub feeds
# that lack a proper summary
url = https://github.com/restic/restic/tags.atom
filter = feed2exec.plugins.emptysummary

# saving to a mbox folder, one file per feed instead of one file per item
[International Space Station Reports]
url = http://blogs.nasa.gov/stationreport/feed/
mailbox = ~/Mail/
folder = stationreport.mbx

# retweet hurricane news
[NASA Hurricane breaking news]
url = https://www.nasa.gov/rss/dyn/hurricaneupdate.rss
output = feed2exec.plugins.exec
args = tweet "{item.title:.40s} {item.link:.100s}"

# same, but on the mastodon network
# we can have multiple entries with the same URL without problems, as
# long as the feed name is different. it does mean that the feed will
# be fetched and parsed multiple times, unfortunately.
# this could be improved to include the '{item.summary}' and extra markup,
# for example.
[NASA Hurricane breaking news - Mastodon]
url = https://www.nasa.gov/rss/dyn/hurricaneupdate.rss
output = feed2exec.plugins.exec
args = toot "{item.title} {item.link}"
# output is disabled here. feed will be fetched and parsed, but no
# toot will be sent
catchup = True

# same, but on the Pump.io network
[NASA Hurricane breaking news - Pump]
url = https://www.nasa.gov/rss/dyn/hurricaneupdate.rss
output = feed2exec.plugins.exec
args = p post note "{item.title} {item.link}"

# crude podcast client
[NASA Whats up?]
url = https://www.nasa.gov/rss/dyn/whats_up.rss
output = feed2exec.plugins.exec
# XXX: this doesn't handle errors properly: if there is a feed without
# enclosures, the whole thing will crash.
args = wget -P /srv/podcasts/nasa/ "{item.enclosures[0].href}"
# feed is paused here. feed will not be fetched and parsed at all and
# no post will be sent.
pause = True

# download torrents linked from a RSS feed
url = http://example.com/torrents.rss
output = feed2exec.plugins.exec
args = transmission-remote localhost -a '{item.link}' -w '/srv/incoming'

Cache database

The feeds cache is stored in a feed2exec.sqlite file. It is a normal SQLite database and can be inspected using the normal sqlite tools. It is used to keep track of which feed items have been processed. To clear the cache, you can simply remove the file, which will make the program process all feeds items from scratch again. In this case, you may want to use the null output plugin to avoid doing any sort of processing to catchup with the feeds.


Feed support is only as good as feedparser library which isn’t as solid as I expected. In particular, I had issues with feeds without dates and without guid.

Unit test coverage is incomplete, but still pretty decent, above 90%.

The exec plugin itself is not well tested and may have serious security issues.

API, commandline interface, configuration file syntax and database format can be changed until the 1.0 release is published, at which point normal Semantic Versioning semantics apply.

The program is written mainly targeting Python 3.5 and should work in 3.6. Python 2.7 is not supported anymore.

The SQL storage layer is badly written and is known to trigger locking issues with SQLite when doing multiprocessing. The global LOCK object could be used to work around this issue but that could mean pretty bad coupling. A good inspiration may be the beets story about this problem. And of course, another alternative would be to considering something like SQLalchemy instead of rolling our own ORM.

Older feed items are not purged from the database when they disappear from the feed, which may lead to database bloat in the long term.

See also

feed2imap(1), rss2email(1)