whole bunch of questions!

Tony Baechler tony at baechler.net
Thu Jul 10 07:14:00 UTC 2014


I suspect you'll get a lot of different answers, but see my answers below.
I've been using Linux off and on since 2000, so I think I can be of help.
Feel free to contact me privately at tony at baechler.net if you wish.

On 2014-07-09 03:39 PM, jeff greene wrote:
> Hi, I'm Jeff and I just joined the list. I've never used linux before and
> have a bunch of questions. I'm really tired of windows 8.1 and can't afford
> a mac, so am thinking about jumping to linux.
> 1 what's the best linux to get? I've heard some have built-in speach

That's largely a matter of preference.  I personally prefer Debian, but
there is also Ubuntu.  If you want something designed for the blind, there
is Vinux.  I've heard rumors of Trisquel and Sonar, but haven't tried
either.  I believe in using the same mainstream Linux as the sighted, so I
recommend Debian.  It does have built-in software speech for the install and
command line, so a blind person can install it by him/herself without
sighted help.  You can install the Gnome graphical desktop environment with
the Orca screen reader if you want to use graphical apps like web browsers,
office suites, etc.  I primarily use and prefer the command line, but you
can use the X environment if you want.  Ubuntu had some accessibility issues
the last time I looked, but they seem to actively be trying to fix them.
The standard Ubuntu live CD is supposed to have built-in screen reader and
speech support.  Vinux is designed to be a live CD which comes up talking,
but I had a number of crashes with it.  The other problem with a specialized
Linux is the lack of support.  There are tens of thousands of Debian and
Ubuntu users while there are only a few dedicated Vinux users and developers.

> 2 Can you do all the same things in linux like in windows: moving/copying
> files, converting and playing videeos etc.

Most definitely.  I found that copying to my SD card is literally about 10
times faster in Linux.  Generally, I find disk access (moving and copying
files) to be much faster in Linux.  MPlayer can play almost any video and
audio format known to man as can VLC.  I regularly convert video to the DVD
format with ffmpeg and it's much faster than with Windows.  You'll find that
Linux works great on older hardware, so if you have an older machine around,
Linux can probably work great on it.  If your machine can run XP, it can
easily run Linux.  If not, you might want to set up dual boot so you won't
lose your Windows but can still boot to Linux to try it.  You can now also
get Linux in a variety of virtual machine images, so you don't have to leave
the comfort of Windows.  Write me privately if you want to discuss any of
this.  The only problem you might have is finding hardware drivers.  I won't
get into the free, open source vs. non-free, proprietary drivers here, but
sometimes you have to look for and install non-free drivers to support
wireless and video.  Ubuntu is pretty good about detecting this
automatically, but Debian doesn't ship non-free drivers on the standard CDs.

> 3 is there something like itunes for linux? And going with that, can i sync
> media between a linux machine and my iphone?

No, ITunes is proprietary, so there isn't and probably never will be unless
Apple decides to port it.  Since Apple is directly competing with Windows
and Linux by supporting and selling the Mac, it's unlikely that anything
like ITunes will happen.  I don't use a mobile phone, so I can't comment on
syncing your media.  Even if Apple did offer ITunes for Linux, it probably
wouldn't be accessible.

> 4 has anybody dealt with system76? Do they give good service etc?

I've never heard of them, but let me just say that 99% of mainstream
computer companies know nothing about the blind and accessibility, so don't
expect them to help with screen readers, speech, Braille, etc as they will
have no idea and probably don't have the interest to figure it out.  I do
offer a support service though and I am totally blind, so I know about Linux
accessibility.  My service is called BATS, or Baechler Access Technology
Support.  You can see a placeholder page at batsupport.com.  Please write me
privately to work out payment information and to sign up for an account.  I
currently charge $99 USD per year for unlimited email support.  I do
eventually hope to offer a web-based ticket and support system.  I'll be
happy to answer your Linux questions to the best of my ability.

> 5 and I'll make this the last one. Are there any good podcasts demoing linux
> using speach?

I don't really know of any.  Yes, there are, but they are very old and
things change much more rapidly with Linux than with Windows.  I've been
thinking of working on various tutorials, but I haven't had the time so far.
 There are thousands of Linux podcasts, but not specifically with speech.
However, because the sighted and blind use the same apps and environment,
most of the information in the podcasts applies regardless.  Obviously, you
don't click the mouse and some programs are not accessible with Orca, but
many are.  LibreOffice and Firefox both come to mind as accessible
solutions.  There are demos of Orca and such out there, but again, most are
very old and aren't kept current.  If anyone here knows of an actively
produced current podcast series for the blind, I would be interested in
knowing about it.  When BATS gets enough business, I would like to
commission someone to produce a set of tutorials, but that's probably off in
the future.

> Thanks, Jeff
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> Blinux-list at redhat.com
> https://www.redhat.com/mailman/listinfo/blinux-list

Have a good day,
Tony Baechler
tony at baechler.net

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