vinux, Another Accessible Linux Possibility

Jude DaShiell jdashiel at
Sun Jan 10 20:42:18 UTC 2010

There are at least two different versions of Vinux available.  The command 
line version does not have gnome or orca installed but this can be done by 
the user after installation easily engough.  The graphical user interface 
version of Vinux runs orca when it starts and yes orca has the ability to 
support braille.  The command line version also has brltty available and 
if the system detects a braille refreshable display on starting brltty 
will talk to it.  The command line version of vinux uses the sound card 
for speech and espeak and behind all of that is speakup.On Fri, 8 Jan 
2010, John J. Boyer wrote:

> Does Vinux support braille? Does it have the capacity to run Gnome with
> Orca?
> John
> On Fri, Jan 08, 2010 at 08:10:44AM -0600, Martin McCormick wrote:
>> 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 yet.
>> 	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 to.
>> 	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 us.
>> 	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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>> Blinux-list at
> -- 
> John J. boyer; President, Chief Software Developer
> Abilitiessoft, Inc.
> Madison, Wisconsin USA
> Developing software for people with disabilities
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