How did people here learn GUIs

Jude DaShiell jdashiel at
Tue Jul 19 02:13:06 UTC 2016

I learned Unix way before I touched any of its gui's.  The flavor of 
unix my employer had was bsd and it had the learn utility operational. 
I was able to go through many of those lessons and read man pages and 
then got into a unix class.  Later me and some other members of the 
penguin users group took about a year to figure it all out but I finally 
got Redhat 5.0 installed and talking.  From there I tried out Slackware 
(no longer a viable accessibility alternative) and then moved along to 
debian.  I got help with the last two installations and the idea it 
would be possible by listening to some of those main menu programs on 
acbradio.  I did a little bit with orca while employed at home but have 
had more time for it now I'm retired.  I also got into archlinux while 
employed and still use that flavor of linux allbeit on a separate hard 

On Mon, 18 Jul 2016, Kyle wrote:

> Date: Mon, 18 Jul 2016 20:02:20
> From: Kyle <kyle4jesus at>
> Reply-To: Linux for blind general discussion <blinux-list at>
> To: blinux-list at
> Subject: Re: How did people here learn GUIs
> I started out with DOS for a rather long time throughout the 1990's, and 
> eventually tried to make the transition to Windows 3.1, which I truly hated 
> once the novelty of it began to wear off. From there, I saw all the strange 
> errors in Windows 95, but it didn't have speech software at the time, so I 
> felt safe from them. Eventually, I got my own computer running Windows ME, 
> and cursed it because everything caused an error in like everything. As soon 
> as I could get it in about 2002, I got Windows XP, and I cursed it, because 
> they took away a lot of the DOS commands I was used to running from within 
> the DOS window, and it crashed out on me as many as 3 times a week or more. 
> It also bothered me greatly that I couldn't find all the configuration files 
> I was used to dealing with in DOS, things like config.sys, and then of course 
> there was the fact that they eventually even made win.ini completely useless 
> because the registry did more and more of that kind of thing, and was much 
> clunkier and made things much harder to find.
> Around the beginning of 2003, I saw a Unix shell for the first time. I 
> believe it was tcsh on a system running an old version of Red Hat Linux that 
> was about 2 years old at the time I used it. Suddenly, a whole new world 
> simply opened up in front of me, as I learned more and more commands that 
> were even shorter than the DOS commands I was used to using, and the config 
> files weren't in a YUUUUUUGE registry with sections with odd naming 
> conventions, but were instead in a file and directory structure I could 
> understand. I recall thinking of Linux as DOS on steroids. At the time, no 
> screen reader existed that worked with X Windows, also called the X Window 
> System, with GNOME and KDE as the two choices of graphical desktops, but it 
> didn't matter to me, as I was where I wanted to be, doing what I wanted to 
> do, working with something that was kinda like DOS, but so much better, and 
> didn't crash either.
> Fast forward about 6 months, and I learned of something called Gnopernicus, 
> that was supposed to allow me to use GNOME. It wasn't all that great, and I 
> still couldn't do my online banking with it, as it didn't work that well with 
> Firefox just yet, but it was a start, and I was able to do some pretty simple 
> stuff with it. But still, I did stay mostly in text mode for a long time, 
> even through most of the short life of LSR, which was much more complicated 
> and harder to understand than Gnopernicus, although for some things it 
> actually did work better.
> And then along came Orca. It blew everything else out of the water, and 
> allowed me to do online banking, paying the bills and everything, all using 
> Firefox, as the text browsers never could go on bank sites and even allow me 
> to login on my bank's website, even for the purposes of just checking my 
> balance, let alone paying the bills. Firefox opened up another whole new 
> world, as using it to do that one thing I wasn't able to do in the text 
> consoles of Linux allowed me to finally rid myself entirely of the 
> monstrosity that was Windows XP.
> As time went on, I learned more and more of the graphical desktop in addition 
> to the things I learned of various distributions, from Fedora to Debian to 
> Ubuntu and eventually Arch, and with each version of GNOME+Orca and each 
> distribution, the entire experience improved. All the time, I wanted other 
> people to experience what I was experiencing, but I didn't feel that dropping 
> them into a shell and saying "here's your new system, have fun," was a good 
> idea. So I learned the graphical way and found more and more ways of doing 
> things that didn't necessarily require dropping someone into a shell and 
> telling them to type in some cryptic set of commands. To this day, I still 
> keep a terminal open, as the best thing in the whole world about Linux is the 
> fact that the OS and available applications keep adding more and more 
> choices, taking absolutely nothing away, not even that good old GNOME 2.x 
> interface I came to love so much. They just call it MATE now, but they 
> certainly didn't take it away; they just made it even better. And this is how 
> I learned how to use graphical desktops, all the time keeping my knowledge of 
> the basic command and filesystem structures. I do believe Arch was the key 
> that unlocked the entire world of computing to me, and that's why I still 
> love and use it to this day, even though I will not hesitate to recommend 
> something even more graphical such as Fedora or OpenSUSE to my clients, as I 
> want to help them get up and running, not overwhelm them with ls, cp, mv and 
> endless manpages and wiki documents. Hope this helps, maybe a little.
> Sent from the ladder
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