whole bunch of questions!

Christopher Chaltain chaltain at gmail.com
Fri Jul 11 03:39:31 UTC 2014

I don't disagree with what you're saying, but I'm not sure what you mean by

> 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.

It's true there are fewer people using and developing Vinux, but all of 
the support you get from Ubuntu also applies to Vinux. I find the 
answers to many more questions on my system running Vinux from the 
Ubuntu forums than I do the Vinux mailing list, wiki or IRC channel.

Vinux developers are just making a lot of the changes you'd be making 
yourself on your own Ubuntu install, so in addition to being able to 
leverage all of the support out there for Ubuntu, you also get support 
for the changes you want to make to make your own system more accessible 

I'm not trying to talk up Vinux at the expense of Ubuntu or Debian. 
Going to Linux is all about choice. I just don't want people to get the 
impression that if they choose Vinux they'll be on their own.

Note that this also applies to other distributions customized for the 
blind, such as Sonar, although Sonar is moving to a Arch based 
distribution instead of Ubuntu.

On 07/10/2014 02:14 AM, Tony Baechler wrote:
> Hi,
> 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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Christopher (CJ)
chaltain at Gmail

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