Blind vs. mainstream distros

Linux for blind general discussion blinux-list at
Sun Apr 23 17:38:37 UTC 2017

I'm not sure who I'm replying to, but I just have a few points. Vinux 4 
and Vinux 5 were based on Ubuntu 12.04 and Ubuntu 14.04 respectively, 
which I think were the high points in Ubuntu accessibility, but maybe 
that's just with Unity.

I've never had a problem with the Vinux installer crashing in a stable 
version of vinux, and I've installed all vinuxes going back to Vinux 3 
and maybe even Vinux 2. I also don't find the Vinux installer to be 
particularly unfriendly. It gets a bit complicated if you have to go 
into GPartEd, but I'm not sure how much simpler you can make 
repartitioning your hard drive.

I'll go ahead and move my signature above the quoted text.

Christopher (CJ)
chaltain at Gmail

On 23/04/17 06:00, Linux for blind general discussion wrote:
> Le 23/04/2017 à 11:25, Linux for blind general discussion a écrit :
>> Your name isn't showing up for some reason. You make some good
>> arguments. Comments below.
> Because the Mailing admin made it disappear to avoid massive spams users
> received indi(idually after posting here.
>> On 4/21/2017 6:05 PM, Linux for blind general discussion wrote:
>>> My only concern with this argument is that it seems like it takes
>>> longer to
>>> get fixes pushed up stream then it does to spin up a custom
>>> distribution. It
>>> also seems to me that a lot of what's needed in a custom distribution is
>>> packaging and customization as opposed to programming.
>> From my experience, mostly what's needed is custom scripts and config
>> files. A lot of this could be done with custom packages. A thought I had
>> was asking for community submissions of scripts which make programs more
>> accessible. They could be put into either a tar archive or .deb package
>> which anyone could install on any system as config files aren't arch or
>> platform specific. I decided it would be too hard for one person to keep
>> up with and make sure new versions didn't break the old config files.
> I really agree with this. To handle upgrades, we need non-regression
> tests. And informing upst!eam of the existence of such "addons". But
> yes, it's the good way of doing I think.
>> Initially, yes, it would take longer to get fixes pushed upstream.
>> That's why I suggest working with the upstream software developers and
>> not the distro developers. That way, a fix to ALSA or Firefox is picked
>> up by all major distros instead of one at a time. However, in some
>> cases, that isn't possible. I'm referring to installers. If a few
>> unknown people submit patches, the review process takes a long time and
>> the patches might not be accepted. If a nonprofit organization is formed
>> specifically for that purpose and not only submits patches but posts
>> them either on github or similar, not only do they get more review but
>> they are more likely to be taken seriously since there is an actual
>> organization behind them. I know there are exceptions, but I think most
>> people take Apache, Mozilla and Gnome much more seriously than a single,
>> random developer. When they know your reputation and you have submitted
>> enough patches, you can commit directly upstream, but as you say, that
>> takes a long time. Case in point, it can take years to be an official
>> Debian developer who can maintain packages without review.
> Right. However as Debian has an accessibility team and is
> accessibility-sensitive, patches will be reviewed quickly and applied.
> The main instal;er maintainer knows fine accessibility.
>>> I look at Vinux and Ubuntu as an example. It seems like Luke and the
>>> Vinux
>>> developers were able to get a lot more accomplished in a lot less time
>>> working with Vinux then they were able to do by trying to push things
>>> upstream in Ubuntu. Focusing on getting changes upstream, when there
>>> could
>>> have been a Vinux available, would have meant fewer blind Linux users and
>>> some of those blind Linux users would have spent more of their own time
>>> setting up and customizing Ubuntu and finding and installing accessible
>>> applications. If you think vinux users are going to just quit and give up
>>> when they run into a Linux issue, I'd think that problem would be even
>>> more
>>> prevalent if they didn't have a Vinux where a lot of the work was already
>>> done for them.
>> Yes and no. First, don't forget that Vinux was itself based on Ubuntu.
>> It wasn't built from scratch. Ubuntu had serious accessibility problems
>> in the past. I wouldn't say it's perfect now, but it's a lot better.
>> Arch might be more current for the desktop, but it's a lot harder to
>> install. For a mainstream, graphical distro, Ubuntu MATE is very good.
>> When I tried Vinux, it had a broken installer and the system crashed. I
>> got a few comments that people gave up for those reasons. I understand
>> the major bugs are fixed now, but it still doesn't use what I would
>> consider a friendly, customizable installer. While I'm opposed to
>> blind-centric distros, I realize they have their place and some people
>> want them. I think what you say below makes very good sense. Create a
>> custom distro based on Fedora or whatever. When it's stable, work with
>> upstream to get those customizations included. What I would like to see
>> is a custom flavor of Ubuntu MATE. It would boot up talking and have the
>> features of Vinux but would be supported by the Ubuntu developers and
>> use the Ubuntu installer. Remember that just as 95% of Ubuntu is based
>> on Debian, at least 95% of Vinux is based on Ubuntu. Really, in terms of
>> code and custom packages, we're talking about a small number of bytes
>> compared to the overall distro. To me, it makes little sense to waste a
>> lot of time recycling 95% or more of what another distro has already
>> done just for a few little fixes.
> Just to say that the Debian installer is accessible in braille, speech,
> magnification, the graphical interface would be easily if work was done,
> and when installing with speech or braille, the most accessible desktop
> is automatically suggested for installing.
>>> IMHO, I think a hybrid approach is the way to go. Build a custom
>>> distribution, prove that it can work, build up your blind user base
>>> and work
>>> to get those changes upstream. I know it seems like this is spreading an
>>> already thin resource even thinner, but I think it's the most likely
>>> road to
>>> success.
>> I hadn't thought of this in that way, but I think you have something.
>> The big problem with any niche distro, blind or not, is the small user
>> base and lack of support. If you can get even, say, a dozen developers
>> and dedicated support people and build up a solid user base, that speaks
>> louder to mainstream distros than a few blind guys playing around with a
>> distro one or two others put together. I remember in the early days of
>> Speakup that this was the case. No one took it seriously. There was no
>> official kernel support. When 2.4 came out, the patches for 2.2 kernels
>> broke. When 2.6 came out, the cycle repeated. I used custom boot
>> floppies to install Debian Potato because I wouldn't have Speakup
>> otherwise. Eventually, Gentoo, Debian and Slackware included it.
>> Finally, it made its way into staging and, unfortunately, still doesn't
>> have official kernel support. If a nonprofit could raise money even for
>> one paid developer, that would help immensely. Even FreeBSD includes
>> Orca because it's part of Gnome and officially supported.
>>> I also think that custom distributions is just part of the Linux
>>> ecosystem.
>>> How many custom distributions are there out there to satisfy every
>>> niche? I
>>> don't think this should be any different for the blind Linux user.
>> There are about 300 as I recall. I doubt if you've heard of 250 of them.
>> Again, in principle, I agree. If I want to make a talking rescue CD or
>> someone else wants their pet distro, sure, go for it! If I implied that
>> I'm opposed to the freedom to do what you want, I apologize. I'm opposed
>> to blind-centric distros mostly due to the lack of resources and
>> community support. I wrote to a Sonar developer about having very low
>> volume. He said he didn't know how to fix it and that's as far as it
>> went. However, for those who want Linux From Scratch or whatever pet
>> distro they like, have fun! Just remember you're mostly on your own. I
>> find it interesting that more devices for the blind are built on Linux
>> or Android.
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Christopher (CJ)
chaltain at Gmail

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