Introducing AmphetaDesk

AmphetaDesk was started by Morbus Iff in January 2001 and continues to be developed; this book uses Version 0.93. Apart from being a very popular tool for reading RSS feeds, AmphetaDesk’s internal architecture makes it eminently hackable and a great way to learn how to use RSS feeds in your own programs. It also runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS, so most readers will be able to try it out.

The system works like this: the innards are written in Perl and HTML templates and come accompanied by an operating system-specific program that acts as the Perl interpreter. Because of this, you can access and change the source code even while the program is running, and you will see the changes happen immediately. Plus, you can add any feature you like by just dropping the correct Perl module into the right directory and writing a template file to call it.

In this section, we will download AmphetaDesk, install it, examine how it works, and then move on to customizing it.

Installing AmphetaDesk

Installing AmphetaDesk is simplicity itself: download the latest version from, unpack the archive, and save the resulting directory structure and files to wherever you want to keep it. You are then presented with the following files and directories.


The AmphetaDesk runtime file. This is the file you run to use the program. It contains all the necessary aspects of Perl needed by your machine to go about its RSS-reading business. ...

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