Sonar GNU/Linux merges with Vinux

Tobias Vinteus tobvin at
Tue Apr 18 13:45:21 UTC 2017

What motivated their choice of Fedora over, sayy, Ubuntu? What was it's 
selling points for the devs?

On Thu, 16 Mar 2017, Tony Baechler wrote:

> Be warned that my comments are most likely unpopular and controversial. See 
> below. I'm not really interested in discussing this further, so don't expect 
> a response.
> On 3/15/2017 3:30 AM, Kyle wrote:
>> Sonar merges with the Vinux Project.
> Well, this is indeed unfortunate. First, it was never said what "common 
> goals" were discussed. Granted I don't closely follow either project, but I'm 
> disappointed and surprised to see Vinux heading towards a Fedora base. Red 
> Hat has stated many, even numerous times, both in their inaction and in 
> published docs on their sites, that they have no or very little interest in 
> core accessibility. Yes, I realize this list is hosted by Red Hat, but 
> honestly, anyone can host a mailing list nowadays, so to me, that doesn't 
> count. Look at, Yahoo Groups, etc. Unlike Debian, Ubuntu and 
> Slackware, to the best of my knowledge, Fedora has never made their installer 
> accessible out of the box. I understand that now their installer talks with 
> Orca, but I think that's more by accident than anything. Fedora does claim to 
> have accessibility with the Gnome desktop though, but I don't think one can 
> easily use Speakup and a text console to do the install. I could very well be 
> wrong on this as I quit following Fedora years ago for the above reasons. 
> There were projects like Speakup Modified (now dead I think), but they were 
> community projects with no support from Fedora developers. Presumably, since 
> Sonar is being folded in, they will use a distro other than Fedora. In the 
> long term, I think Fedora would be a very bad idea for many reasons which I 
> won't go into here.
> I think it's a great idea for there to be an a11y, or even blindness-specific 
> nonprofit to be formed. I would even say it's very long overdue. If Apache, 
> Mozilla, the Linux kernel and many others can do it, there is no reason why 
> the blind community can't. I would even suggest moving this and other Linux 
> lists to that organization. Yes, I realize that nonprofit and not-for-profit 
> are different. I would push to make it a U.S based nonprofit. Start a 
> Kickstarter or other fundraising compaign. I would donate to it. As much as 
> Facebook doesn't support accessibility and generally is against the open 
> source spirit, a page on there, Twitter, Tumblr, etc would be a very good 
> idea. There needs to be a strong publicity team to write articles for both 
> the blindness magazines (ACB Braille Forum, etc) and the mainstream Linux 
> magazines like LWN. Amazingly, there has been almost no mention of Speakup in 
> the mainstream Linux community at all. I think a fair number of companies and 
> developers don't take us seriously because they don't know we exist and that 
> blind people not only can and do use computers but in fact can and do use 
> Linux on a regular basis. I just got an email from someone asking if I'm 
> blind, how do I read and write? There is still a huge amount of ignorance out 
> there. I realize this isn't strictly a Linux accessibility issue, but what 
> leads to the next great breakthrough might be started by a developer seeing 
> that blind people want an accessible desktop like everyone else. With an 
> actual organization, KDE could be pushed for accessibility and developers 
> from the organization could help. In other words, not only does it need to be 
> a nonprofit a11y organization who works with other developers and develops 
> software, but it also needs to be an advocacy and lobbyist group to demand 
> big and small companies make their software accessible.
> However, I see a huge flaw in the merger. I think we're going down the same 
> path as Windows screen readers. I'm not saying that Vinux would go 
> commercial. What I'm saying is I fear they would end up like a big company 
> who shall remain nameless. There are other screen readers out there such as 
> NVDA, but very few people take them seriously because this big company has 
> almost a monopoly. Granted, Linux is still far from having a huge share of 
> the market, but if it should reach the 90% or even 50% point some day, it 
> would be very unfortunate for rehab agencies and employers to force people to 
> use Vinux because that's the only specialized distro for the blind. What 
> would be much better is to work with the mainstream distros like Debian and 
> Ubuntu to fix accessibility problems. Ubuntu is the most popular distro on 
> the desktop. While accessibility is good, it has problems. When 16.04 came 
> out, Orca was broken. I believe there are only a small number (no more than a 
> few) people on the accessibility team. Debian could also desperately use 
> help. It would look much better for the blind community if an organization 
> donated their time and talents to auditing the packages in Debian and either 
> fixing those with accessibility bugs which could easily be fixed or working 
> with the upstream developers, providing patches and consulting with them to 
> make their packages more accessible. To me, it seems like a huge waste of 
> time to put a ton of energy into beating Fedora, Ubuntu or whatever distro 
> into submission and slapping a "Vinux" or "Sonar" label on it when that same 
> upstream distro with very few tweaks could be made that way out of the box. 
> If you absolutely must modify packages, desktop settings, etc from the 
> upstream defaults, such as for low vision users, create a Vinux repository 
> instead or work with the Ubuntu community to create an official Ubuntu flavor 
> called Ubuntu VI or something. There is already a Ubuntu MATE flavor, so why 
> not work with them directly? While we're at it, what about Orca? I see only 
> one main paid developer working on it. I'm sure she could use some help, not 
> to mention thorough testing. Getting back to the Windows screen readers, I 
> fear that blind people will not be given the choice of what distro they want 
> and will be locked out of mainstream use because there is primarily one Vinux 
> to rule them all.
> In conclusion, I will continue not recommending any specialized distro to my 
> clients and other people. I think they are almost always a mistake. As we 
> have seen yet again, it does lead to fragmentation and generally bad luck for 
> all concerned. I couldn't get any of them (Sonar, Vinux or Talking Arch) to 
> work reliably on my 2009 machine which runs XP great and has a very old, 
> well-supported standard sound card. I had to invent my own live / rescue CD 
> because there wasn't anything reliable. Hopefully the official Debian rescue 
> CD will have reliable speech soon. Something like a Vinux rescue CD would be 
> a great idea, but not a live system with an unreliable graphical desktop, 
> horrible speech (ESpeak) and an unreliable infrastructure which crashes for 
> no obvious reason while the mainstream Debian and Ubuntu distros don't. All 
> of that said, I wish both teams the best of luck and I guess we'll see what 
> happens. I would only add that if you haven't taken the plunge and actually 
> tried Linux, give Ubuntu MATE a try. It's fast, works well and can be 
> installed independently by the blind in about an hour. It does, 
> unfortunately, still use ESpeak. Getting a commercial company to release a 
> decent synth as open source would be a great thing for a nonprofit to do, 
> even if it required buying the rights.
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