Frequently Asked Questions

AmphetaDesk Doesn't Work Through My Proxy!

The following is a list of notes, tips, and tricks for proper AmphetaDesk proxy usage:

How Can I Secure AmphetaDesk With Apache?

If you've already got the Apache webserver installed (a good bet for Mac OS X and Linux systems), you can use it to provide some access control for a remotely available AmphetaDesk installation. With the following tip, you'll be able to prevent AmphetaDesk access based on IP, hostname, or user authentication.

You'll need to modify the Apache configuration file for the following tip to work - if you don't have that ability, you may be able to use an .htaccess file instead. If you have no clue what I'm talking about, your best bet is to familiarize yourself with the Apache documentation.

  1. Start AmphetaDesk on a server you control.
  2. Open Apache's httpd.conf file for editing.
  3. Add the following block of configuration, tweaking as needed:

    ProxyPass /AmphetaDesk/
    <Directory proxy:>
       Order allow,deny
       AuthType Basic
       AuthName "AmphetaHooRU?"
       AuthUserFile some.htpasswd
       Require valid-user
       Satisfy Any
  4. Restart the Apache web server.

If you'd like access control by IP address or hostname (as opposed to user authentication like the above), then take a look into Apache's Allow, Deny, and Order directives. Be sure to restart the Apache web server after each change to the httpd.conf file (this restart is not necessary if you're using .htaccess. Thanks to Ken Coar for the tip.

How Do I Get In Your "Add A Channel" List?

AmphetaDesk's "Add A Channel" list is built from a Syndic8 export, shortly before a new AmphetaDesk release is planned. To ensure you'll be part of the next distributed list, get listed within Syndic8 as a valid syndicated feed, then update at least once every 10 days. Nothing magical.

How Do I Import My FeedReader Subscriptions?

Because AmphetaDesk runs all its code from plain text files stored on your system, writing an importer, or a new feature in general, is a simple matter of coding and not compiling. In this case, we're going to create a new template file that will import your FeedReader subscriptions whenever you deem it necessary.

  1. First, open up a new plain text document with Notepad.
  2. Add the following Perl code to your newly created text file:

    [$ # begin converting
    use XML::Simple;

    # modify this line to your feedreader installation.
    my $data = XMLin("C:\\Feedreader\\subscriptions.xml")
    or print ("Couldn't open the subscription file: $!");

    if ($data) { foreach (@{$data->{item}}) { add_url($_->{"link"}); } }
    my @resps = get_response; foreach (@resps) { $OUT .= "<br>$_"; }

    # that was fun $]
  3. Save this file into AmphetaDesk/templates/default/.
  4. If AmphetaDesk is not currently running, start it.

If you've saved the text file as "feedreader.html", then you'd want to load the following URL in your web browser: Upon doing so, you'll be informed of AmphetaDesk's progress as it imports and subscribes you to each of your previous feed. This script was last verified around February of 2003 - if you're having problems with it, don't hesitate to email

How Do I Uninstall AmphetaDesk?

AmphetaDesk is a monolithic application: it does not require Windows drivers, registry entries, additional control panels or extensions, blah, blah, blah. All the files it needs, uses, and cares about are installed in the same directory: the one you initially extracted. To remove AmphetaDesk from your system, simply remove the AmphetaDesk directory. That's it! (Granted, if you're on Linux, you probably had to install a bunch of Perl modules which do not fall under the above admonishings).

Linux: Bareword "Vars" not allowed while "strict subs". Huh?

If an installation fails on Linux with a message like Bareword "Vars" not allowed while "strict subs" in use, then you have an old Perl module on your machine that is incompatible with AmphetaDesk. To fix this, upgrade your current Perl module, which can be done through Perl's CPAN, or your OS's package management system.

Win32: AmphetaDesk Doesn't Work On Windows XP!

For as many people that are using AmphetaDesk successfully under Windows XP, there seems to be just as many that are having peculiar problems, enough so that Brian Livingston ended up asking for further help in his very popular Brian's Buzz on Windows newsletter. I can't say that I have a magical "works all the time" answer for you, but the following have been tried with some random successes:

Win32: Double-clicking AmphetaDesk.exe Does Nothing

More than likely, your zip extractor didn't respect the internal folder hierarchy of the archive. If your AmphetaDesk install directory has about six folders, and roughly 30 files, then that's definitely your problem. To perform a clean extraction:

Using WinZip 8.0:

  1. Download the AmphetaDesk zip file to your Desktop.
  2. Double-click that file to open it within WinZip, and click the "Extract" button.
  3. In the "Extract to where?" dialog box, ensure that "Use folder names" in the lower left is checked.
  4. Locate and choose your preferred extraction directory as normal.

Win32: How Do I Find What Proxy Internet Explorer Is Using?

If AmphetaDesk can't connect to the Internet to download the latest feeds, there's a good chance you're using a proxy server of some sort. To find out if Internet Explorer is using a proxy (along with some information that AmphetaDesk will need to know about), perform the following:

  1. Open up Internet Explorer, and choose the "Tools" menu.
  2. Next, choose "Internet Options" (or "Options"), and choose the "Connections" tab.
  3. Click the "LAN Settings" button near the bottom of this screen.

If there are entries in the "Address" and "Port" boxes, you'll want to fill these in to the matching boxes on AmphetaDesk's "My Settings" page. Be sure to prepend your "Address" with http://. Thanks to Iain Cheyne for this information.

Win32: How Do I Start AmphetaDesk Minimized?

Using Microsoft Windows, you can start AmphetaDesk minimized with a simple shortcut:

  1. Right-click the AmphetaDesk.exe and choose "Create Shortcut".
  2. Name the shortcut whatever you'd like, then right-click it and choose "Properties".
  3. In the "Run" dropdown menu, choose "Minimized", then click "OK".

This will automatically start AmphetaDesk minimized to the Windows Systray. In AmphetaDesk 0.93.1 and below, some bugs and missing features would still cause AmphetaDesk to appear in the Task Bar and open your default browser, but these have been resolved in versions 0.93.2 and beyond. Thanks to Raun Nohavitza!

Win32: How Do I Use Internet Explorer's Search Bar?

The Windows versions of Internet Explorer 5.0+ allow you to open a Search Bar, which sits to the left of your primary browsing area. With a simple Javascript bookmarklet, you can open up AmphetaDesk in this Search Bar, creating a two-pane view: aggregated sites on the left, and a browsing window on the right for further information. Note that some modification to the default AmphetaDesk templates will probably be required, else things will appear quite scrunched.

To open AmphetaDesk in the Internet Explorer Search Bar, drag this Javascript bookmarklet to your Links Bar. Then, start AmphetaDesk as normal, and click the saved link once your browser has opened. The AmphetaDesk main page should now appear to the left of your primary browser window in the Search Bar. Unfortunately, all the links within AmphetaDesk will attempt to open either in a new window, or the Search Bar. To fix this, perform the following steps:

  1. Close AmphetaDesk as you normally would.
  2. Open /path/to/AmphetaDesk/data/mySettings.xml.
  3. Change the <link_target> from its current setting to _main.
  4. Save the mySettings.xml file and restart AmphetaDesk.

Thanks to Brett Taylor for this handy tip!

Win32: Why Don't You Support AmphetaDesk On Windows 95?

A number of reasons, really. At the time of this writing, there were only 900 downloads of the Windows 95 version (compared to roughly 50,000+ for Windows 98 and up), I no longer had a Windows 95 machine to test on, Microsoft no longer supported it, the Perl GUI libraries no longer supported it, and it's nearly ten, very long, years old. Plus, more importantly, after asking the AmphetaDesk community, the resounding response was "no longer!".

As such, AmphetaDesk versions past 0.93.2 will no longer be released for Windows 95.

Which isn't to say that AmphetaDesk will no longer work on Windows 95 - just that I'm no longer actively testing on that platform, or worrying about backwards compatibility. However, there's a very good chance that AmphetaDesk will continue to function for the foreseeable future, assuming you follow these steps:

  1. Download the latest Windows 95 version of AmphetaDesk.
  2. Download the latest Windows 98 version of AmphetaDesk.
  3. Extract both archives to two seperate folders.
  4. Replace the Windows 98 AmphetaDesk.exe with the Windows 95 version.
  5. In the Windows 98 extras folder, rename to
  6. Drag that file into the Windows 98 lib/AmphetaDesk/OS folder, replacing the existing file.
  7. Delete the Windows 95 folder. You're done with it.

By following these steps, you'll be using the latest code from the Windows 98 releases, but with all the necessary Windows 95 libraries intact. Note that there may be some quirkiness, and eventually, this process may not work at all. Unfortunately, we no longer provide official tech support on AmphetaDesk under Windows 95, though you're more then welcome to subscribe to the amphetadesk-discuss mailing list and ask there.

XML: How Do I Add A New Encoding To AmphetaDesk?

AmphetaDesk 0.93.2 and above ship with a number of default encodings, which you can see by browsing the lib/XML/Parser/Encodings/ directory. As the name suggests, these all come from the XML::Parser::Encodings Perl module, which also contains some scripts to make your own from encoding maps freely available online.

To build your own encoding:

  1. Download encoding.txt from
  2. Run make_encmap encoding encoding.txt > encoding.encmap.
  3. Add expat="yes" on the document element in encoding.encmap.
  4. Run compile_encoding -o encoding.enc encoding.encmap.

Once you've got the encoding.enc file, drop it into lib/XML/Parser/Encodings/ and test it out on a feed that requires it. If everything goes smoothly, drop the encoding into an email to for inclusion into a future release. Thanks to Klaus Johannes Rusch.