SV: vinux, Another Accessible Linux Possibility

Anders Holmberg anders at
Sat Jan 9 01:04:20 UTC 2010

But isn't vinux built on ubuntu?
>From what i've understand you can get a vinux thats just ubuntu with orca.

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För Martin McCormick
Skickat: den 8 januari 2010 15:11
Till: Linux for blind general discussion
Ämne: vinux, Another Accessible Linux Possibility

Over the Newyear's weekend, I tried yet another 
distribution of Debian Linux that talks. It is called vinux and the vi part
stands for "visually impaired." It uses speakup as its software speech
engine and it  runs a text console. This means that it gives new life to
middle-aged computers that aren't top-end but are too good to get rid of

	The live CD comes up talking and  gives you a Unix
console. There is a menu system to get you started on how to install vinux
on your hard drive.

	It is good for anybody who has some working knowledge of
Linux or any other common form of Unix. It appears that you must have either
256 megs of RAM or that must swap space on your drive. I tried it on an
extremely RAM-deficient Gateway system which is about 13 years old and 
made the mistake of being too cheap on swap space. The system had 64 megs of
RAM and 189 megs of swap. The speech came up fine but I knew we had trouble
when it began repeating various error messages followed by "no space left on
device." Each of those represented a package that didn't make it on to the
new system.

	I increased the swap space to about 256 megs today and
it appeared to do much better.

	The fellow who created this distribution appears to have
done things well in that the speech engine and all the audio devices play
nicely together. I was able to get the mplayer package to install and run.
speechdispatcher and speakup just talk right over the sound when they need

	I installed vinux on a Dell Enspiron laptop with 256
megabytes of RAM and there was no trouble at all. It just works.

	Now for a couple of warnings. When you install it, you
get a default British keyboard layout. It is the same as ours for numbers
and letters and most punctuation marks, but the @ sign as in bobby at
and the double-quote are swapped. What should be the \ is the #, and a few
other surprises. Also the Caps-lock key does not announce its status and
works much differently than it usually does under speakup. Set it with
shift-capslock as normal, but release it by just tapping Caps-lock. The
pitch of your echoed key strokes will tell you if it is set or cleared.
Anyway, you can become root on the Live CD by sudo su - and then run
loadkeys us. You get an American keyboard and, strangely enough, the
Caps-lock announces afterward. This works until you reboot.

	After you install vinux, the process of making the US
keyboard default is complicated a bit because the normal procedure of
running install-keymap us is slightly broken. It puts the US map in
/etc/console for some reason instead of /etc/console-setup. I just got lucky
and figured that one out. You have to manually copy the boottime.kmap.gz
file to the right place and it does start to work.

	It probably doesn't hurt to edit /etc/default/locale to
change LANG to "C" so that dates and other generated output look normal to

	I have been using it on 3 different systems for about a
week and have had no serious issues. I did try a serial RS-232 port and
ckermit on one system and it worked fine. I have not yet tried the serial
PCMCIA serial port on the laptop. I certainly hope that works as is it is
important at times in my job.

	Anyway, I think this is a welcome addition to Linux accessibility.
Too bad the main distributions don't have it as a boot option on their
distribution CD's.

Martin McCormick WB5AGZ  Stillwater, OK 
Systems Engineer
OSU Information Technology Department Telecommunications Services Group

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