Has any solution for blind to run windows under linux?
jheim at math.wisc.edu
Sun Jan 11 18:40:33 UTC 2009
Just yesterday I finally got Windows running in a virtual machine
under linux. I've probably been working on it for 2 months. Not every
evening, obviously there were holidays and stuff in between. But it
was a heck of a lot of work. I finally succeeded and had absolutely
no sighted assistance.
I downloaded and installed vmware server2 -- which is free. I wasted a
lot of time trying to get vmware to recognize my sound card. The add
hardware wizard just would not let me add a sound card to a virtual
machine. I finally just wiped out vmware and reinstalled. Then it
worked like a charm.
I also found that I had to have a Windows machine in order to use the
vmware web interface. You can use orca and firefox but the
accessibility is no where near as good as it is with IE and jaws. I'm
not sure I would ever have been able to figure out how to use the web
app if all I had was firefox and orca. I knew where the links should
be based on my knowledge gained in IE & jaws. So that was another
reason why the project took me so long. I actually had to set up a
second machine running Windows to talk to my linux machine running
Once I had the virtual machine configured, I installed Windows XP on
it via an open-source Windows installation system. See http://unattend.sourceforge.net
for details. I had set this system up some years ago but I hadn't
used it in some time. The reason is that you have to keep rebuilding
the installer boot CD every time you get new hardware. It boots a
linux kernel and then installs Windows via a dos emulator. But that
means you have to keep updating the linux kernel for new hardware.
The good news is that the system will install Windows on a vmware
virtual machine without modification. So after configuring the virtual
machine, I put a unattended boot CD in the drive, powered up the
virtual machine and had a Windows installation about an hour later. It
was pretty cool actually, I was able to watch the disk space taken up
by the virtual machine climb as Windows was installed.
The next significant problem I had was in accessing the virtual
machine on my linux box. I could power up the vm from the other
machine running Windows. But I didn't want to run windows in a vm
under windows, I wanted to run it under linux. I hadn't used the linux
GUI for some time and orca wasn't even working. So I spent another
evening or 2 getting orca working. That actually is time well spent. I
really like gnome and orca. It probably has more flaws than voiceOver
but it's way easier to use. I find it way more intuitive and it takes
far fewer keystrokes to get things done.
Once I had orca installed and working, I was able to power up the vm
via firefox. But I never did figure out how to access the vm concole
via firefox. I could never find the link since orca doesn't recognize
it as a link. I finally found a link to create a desktop icon to
connect to the vm concole. So now all I have to do is click the
desktop icon to access the Windows vm. That's preferable anyway.
That was yesterday. I was able to configure the accessibility
functions in Windows and install jaws. Unfortunately, jaws doesn't
work very well. The video intercept driver doesn't work and that means
the jaws cursor doesn't work. Obviously, that is a significant
drawback. I'm going to find out if I've done something wrong. I've
seen some blog entries that tend to make me think it just won't work.
If so, I may give nvda a try. Nvda is an open source screen reader for
Windows. The blog for the developer says he does his development in a
Windows virtual machine under linux. So I'd presume nvda would work.
So that is where I am today. I am hoping to be jaws free soon. I was
about to type the words 'I have nothing against freedom scientific'
but that's not true. I find their licensing draconian. I don't think I
should have to contact them to re-authorize jaws every time I swap out
a CD-ROM drive or add memory to my PC. But I also don't want to have
to ask my employer to shell out $1000 for another jaws license in a
year or 2. I work for the Math Department at the University of
Wisconsin. $1000 is a lot of money. In the big picture it's nothing.
Every time they hire a new professor, they give him $1500 for a new
computer which the profs then waste on a giant monitor. These guys all
buy a $500 computer and a $1000 monitor.
I just don't want to have to go to my boss and tell her that I need
the department to spend $1000 on a Windows screen reader for me. I'm
supposed to be better than that. Its embarrassing.
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