Getting started with Linux

krishnakant Mane krmane at
Wed Oct 22 11:12:32 UTC 2008

On 22/10/2008, Tony Baechler <tony at> wrote:
> Hi,
> I must respectfully disagree with the above statement.  I understand
> that things should be better now when Ubuntu adopts the changes from the
> latest Debian installer, but I have a serious problem with the claim
> that Ubuntu is as accessible as Windows.
hi, with due respect for your submission to the all mighty microsoft
and wish to surrender your freedom, I disagree on the following basis.

>First of all, unless I'm
> mistaken, there are still many apps that don't work well with Orca.  I
> admit that I'm still learning, but I didn't find rhythmbox particularly
> accessible for example.
Well, there are a lots of apps which are not accessible on windows
given any screen reader.
Tally is one such example and even google talk to a great extent.
Open office is also not accessible and microsoft office is nothing
less than proprietory rubbish.
But let it be, I agree with your point that rithm box is not
accessible and so was pgadmin3.
There are few such softwares which lak accessibility.  But there is a
big difference.
I have complete hope and I am confident that these apps will be
accessible soon.  You see the point here is that i nighther can change
source code of tally or other non accessible softwares on windows nor
change the screen readers to the core.
But I value my freedom like many others and I am free to make changes
to either rithm box or other softwares which are inaccessible.
I am in the process of making some changes to pgadmin3 and I am
working with the accessibility team at evince to make pdf reading easy
with gnu/linux.
So although I might not directly contribute to the changes, I will at
least guide them.
there are so many tailor made proprietory softwares which just don't
work with windows and screen readers.  As a result many blind people
loos job opportunities.  Nither screen reader developing firms nor
windows would make a change for that.  But with free and open source
changes happen and in some cases very vary rappidly.
So in short, in proprietory softwares development is stagnated but
orca and ubuntu has reached in 2 years where jaws or similar products
took more than 5 or 6 years.
The only question one should ask is "are we ready to make the changes
or facilitate an initiate the changes or just abuse free software for
what is lakking ".  Not to mention viruses and other deliberate things
done by microsoft and other companies on purpose.

> Also, while it's true that you can run Orca from the live CD, it is
> very, very slow.  It took at least 15 minutes to boot and several
> minutes just to open an application.  Yes, it could be done but frankly
> it was very painful.
Again depends on you.  I have a 512 mb desktop which runs orca live
pritty fast and ubuntu is also pritty smooth (hardy 8.04.1) and if
windows is so great and freedom scientific is the god for blind people
why can't blind people still not install windows themselves?

>I'm running Windows 98 on 256 MB of RAM.  I'm the
> first to admit that memory could be the issue, but Windows 98 runs fine
yes it runs fine with all the viruses and what not?  I won't like my
valued knowledge go in the wrong hands and I will pay for some more
memory and get some thing safe and that respects my freedom.
> and fairly fast.  OK, one could argue that of course the live CD would
> be slower and Ubuntu compares to XP in terms of resources, but I would
> disagree with that too, at least on a general level.  Linux from the
> console runs very well in that same box and from a live CD (grml 1.1rc1)
> with no problem and minimal slowness.
which it does.  I have instrumented mass migrations from the
proprietory rubbish to heaven of freedom here in india.  And most of
the migrations have happened to ubuntu and at corporate professional
level even debian.

This includes many blind schools in southern state in india named
tamilnadu and another state named kerala.  They are more than happy
and now even have the desire to contribute to the parts it laks rather
than abusing the problems and disrespecting the marvel free software
>Linux by design should require
> less resources than Windows, but the argument would seem to be that this
> is no longer correct, at least from what I've read on the lists.
and what is the cost of 512 mb ram or even 1 gb ram.  By the way
softwares occupy much lesser place on hard disk compared to
proprietory softwares on windows.  Blender, inkscape, GIMP and brasero
are such examples.  Compare them to their proprietory useless
softwares and you will know the difference.
And I don't really know whether you are a programmer or an end user,
but I would request you to actively participate in development and
provide constructive ideas to fix the small missing parts.
What ever the case may be, you seam to have good analysis skills so
you can be of good use.
> One thing I forgot to mention.  You say that Firefox 3 is accessible.
> Yes, it can certainly be used by the blind, but I wouldn't say that it
> is completely accessible by any means.  Often pressing Tab gives me
> silence and it's hard to know when I'm on a form.  That's with Firefox
> 3.  Windows is still far better in this regard, but it's getting closer.

ues the latest versions of orca.  and forms mode is very bad idea.
we have links list and headings list (which by the way was added in a
matter of few hours as an extention ).  and forms are totally
acccessible infact jaws and many windows based screen readers are
having problems with some web sites too.  The problem is not the
screen reader but in many cases bad web design and layout which does
not respect accessibility.  At least orca presents many web sites
accessible and I like the "as is " way of presenting the information.
And although links list was a common feature in many proprietory
screen readers, to my knowledge i have not seen a filter links option
in any of them.
Again this is a contribution from a community member which really
can't happen in a proprietory way of development.
> The biggest issue I have with the statements at how great Ubuntu
> accessibility is has to do with the complete lack of Speakup support in
> the kernel.  As I said, hopefully this will change, but I've read
> several times on the Speakup list that it's impossible to build Speakup
> into the current Ubuntu kernel.  That completely leaves the blind out of
> decent console access.  Again, there's Gnome terminal but Orca
> apparently has no support for hardware speech and lacks the features of
> Speakup, which is designed for the console.  That means that at a
> minimum, one would need two different kernels, one for Orca and one
> especially for Speakup which defeats the point of Speakup in the first
> place.  I seriously have an issue with saying that there is great
> accessibility when mail readers, chat programs, ftp clients, and web
> browsers are all made unavailable because of no console access.  One is
> forced into using the GUI alternatives.  I don't know about you, but
> that sure doesn't sound like freedom to me, at least in the meaning used
> by free software.
I think emacspeak is the right choice for you and if you feel that
speakup has to be in the kernel, I will put you in contact with a few
ubuntu kernel developers so that this can be worked out. Again that is
if you would like to contribute to the freedom movement.  Every system
has some thing missing but as i keep on saying avail the powre of your
freedom it is for you.
I use pidgin and recommend it to beginners.
so chatting is no issue.  I love emacspeak and use debian at many
places but if some one is coming from the windows background, yes I
will recommend ubuntu.

> Instead, I would recommend Debian.  It has a talking installer with
> Speakup.  It also has Gnome and Orca.  It's updated more often than
> Ubuntu if you go with testing or unstable.  Ubuntu inherits almost
> everything from Debian eventually anyway, so you get it in Debian
> first.  If you install from unstable, you'll get newer versions of Gnome
> and Orca without waiting six months for Ubuntu.  That will also give you
> a good grounding in console access with speech.
agreed, but speakup has to go with hardware synth to my knowledge.  if
debian has an accessible installer which works with espeak then i
would certainly start massive migrations in my next phase with debian.
 Last time when I checked debian it did not give an apt-on cd kind of
system where I could put softwares like vlc etc and create custom
update cds for my clients.  Else I personally support debian and as
you rightly said ubuntu inherits debian so if it becomes as good, then
why not.  By the way we all awaite the next major release of debian
and I hope that we will have atlist orca 2.24 to the least.
If that happens and the existing hardware support problems are sorted
out then I have no hassels telling people to start using debian right
away.  As a side note I install and recommend debian for intermediate
or expert users because once a certain level of expertese is gained,
ubuntu looks to monotonous and dry.
> The only other thing I would add is that your employer might use an
> entirely different distro, such as Fedora.  In that case, it doesn't
> matter what you install because you'll have to learn something new
i don't worry as long as it is free software. I know with some
tweaking orca runs better on fedora as well for example.
> anyway.  If you just want to learn the basics, burn a live CD of grml or
> similar and just play with that until you get the hang of how things work.
> I'll just add one final note.  I hope this has been fixed, but I
> verified with sighted help that the instructions for accessibility with
> speech using the Ubuntu live CD are just plain wrong.  I don't remember
> exactly what I had to do to get speech, but I posted about it several
> times here and on the Speakup list.  Even at that, I still had to
> manually launch Orca on one machine, even though the sighted person told
> me that I selected the screen reader.  How is that totally independent
> installation for the blind?
Which version are you using?  i have at least done 500 + installations
of ubuntu hardy without sited assistance and never had the problem you
described.  with hardy things have changed for the way you would start
orca and lonch talking installer.  Did you check with the orca irc
channel and mailing list?
We will be interested to know what the problem exactly is.
And again, Please do let me know about the speakup support for
software speech synthesizer if available.
And more importantly does it work with the debian installer?

> The bottom line is simply that there is no right or wrong distro to
> use.  I really like Debian, but I could also recommend Slackware and
> Gentoo for different reasons.  For someone relatively new, I would say
> to try Slackware or Debian.  If you really have no interest in the
> console and never want to learn it, Ubuntu is probably fine.  I am
> converting a sighted person to Linux.  I gave him Debian and he has been
> very happy with it.  He had no previous Linux experience and only used
> Windows.  He had no interest in learning the command line and had a very
> hard time with DOS.  He's now almost to the point of not using Windows
> at all.
We all love debian don't we?  my only worry is that debian has given
problems with many new machines including laptops in particular.  at
the end of the day users should be comfortable.  I am myself
comfortable and i use debian at a lot of places including my personal
> If you have further questions or problems, contact me off list.  I offer
> a low cost yearly support service and I'll be more than happy to guide
> you through setting up and using Linux.  Let me know if you're interested.
> Thanks,
> Tony Baechler
> tony at

happy hacking.
Krishnakant.> _______________________________________________
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