Sonar GNU/Linux merges with Vinux

Linux for blind general discussion blinux-list at
Wed Apr 26 10:26:56 UTC 2017

Tony Baechler here.

Kyle, first, from a different post, I have no feelings about Arch. I don't 
know if they care about accessibility or not. I would think if they do, they 
would make Talking Arch official, but there are probably technical issues. 
Why they can't do like Slackware, Debian and Ubuntu, I don't know. Even a 
total novice can press the letter "s" and Enter to start speech. As you say, 
RH, Ubuntu and probably others have Alt-Super-S. There is no reason why Arch 
can't do something similar. Better yet, adopt Talking Arch as an official 
flavor and produce monthly images automatically along with the regular Arch, 
eliminating the need for you to do it.

Second, you're right. I apologize. I was in a hurry. After rereading your 
post, no, you didn't say RH hosted Orca. I very much doubt that RH made that 
much effort to make their installer accessible, but I don't use it. They do 
say that Fedora is accessible now, but I haven't looked at it in years. At 
the time I went distro shopping last, Debian worked and Fedora didn't, so 
that was that. That was around 2007. Gentoo didn't have a special talking 
image either. It had Speakup built into the same kernel used by everyone 
else. All you did is pass the speakup.synth parameter. Gentoo wasn't for the 
novice and I wouldn't place it in the same category as Ubuntu. I have no 
idea of the state of Gentoo anymore.

Finally, no, Speakup isn't my beloved by any means. I tried yasr and I 
couldn't get it to work. Speakup with hardware speech is the only means of 
hearing every boot message. Nothing in user space can do that. Can you put 
Fenrir in the initrd? Oh, you can't? Well, no speech for you if your system 
crashes or doesn't boot. I can't tell you how many times Speakup saved my 
bacon when my system stopped at the initramfs prompt. Why can't you put 
Fenrir in the initrd? Simply because you need a boatload of drivers for your 
sound card, ESpeak, libespeak and who knows what else. That bloats the 
initrd and it won't fit into memory. Unless, of course, Fenrir supports 
serial synths. I've never heard of it, but I want to try it! I actually 
think user space generally makes good sense for everyday use and on 
desktops. For servers, you really need to know what's going on from boot to 

As I understand it, it isn't the fault of Speakup that it took so long to 
get to staging and is still there. The kernel developers were absolutely 
opposed to including it and wouldn't help at all. I've read a message from 
them saying as much. They were approached many times. Development died more 
or less because it couldn't go any further. Without support from the kernel 
upstream, it couldn't be part of the source and couldn't keep up with 
developments. It's a miracle that it finally landed in staging. As you 
rightly say, it took many years, far longer than it should have. I don't 
blame Kirk and the others. Again, this is another great example of why we 
need a nonprofit. I'm not really about the blind community getting together 
and demanding change in most cases, but nothing is going to get done 
otherwise. Speakup is a prime example. Without developer interest, it can 
never meet kernel upstream standards.

As an aside, the reason why I only focus on getting the blind to try Linux 
as opposed to everyone is for the above reasons. The more blind people we 
can get, even if they aren't power users or coders, the louder voice we 
have. As others have pointed out, stuff gets done with Windows companies. 
Apple has VoiceOver. Not much gets done with most Linux upstreams unless 
they really go out of their way to accomodate us poor blind folks. It 
shouldn't be that way! Most of them have never heard of us and have no idea 
what we need, how to help or what to do.

On 4/24/2017 5:40 AM, Linux for blind general discussion wrote:
> Tony,
> I said absolutely nothing of Red Hat hosting Orca. I said they ship it with
> the distribution, which they are not at all obligated to do, as proven by
> the fact that Linux Mint didn't come with Orca in the live environment for a
> very long time. As for Speakup, it has never been fully ready for prime time
> up to now, and there are very good reasons why it is still stuck in the
> staging tree. If you want to talk about too little too late, then I would
> talk of Speakup, which is only recently getting its act together enough to
> hopefully make it out of staging and into the stable kernel tree, maybe in
> the next couple of years if we're lucky. Meanwhile, we have a very nice
> package called Fenrir, which has taken the screen reader completely out of
> the kernel, putting it fully in userspace where it belongs. Perhaps this
> will address the issue of speech from a text only environment much better
> than Speakup ever could, as it can not only work on kernels without staging
> enabled, but it will also eventually be far more portable to things like
> FreeBSD, which has never had even a proof of concept kernel-based screen
> reader, and has up to now required ssh in order to get it to do anything for
> those of us who need speech output.
> Regarding installer accessibility, I have used quite a few installers, and
> Red Hat was one of the first major vendors to ship an installer that while
> not accessible by direct methods e.g. via speech on the machine where the OS
> was to be installed, did come with a method of gaining access to the
> installation terminal via telnet, and also had kickstart files that could be
> used in place of the on-screen system. Of course Speakup had to be used via
> Speakup Modified, and before that, the kernel had to be patched, but I
> wouldn't call that not caring by any stretch. Once the graphical environment
> started becoming usable, Red Hat, now called Fedora, was already shipping
> Orca in its repositories, and they were one of the first to include the
> quite new at the time Espeak, which was far more responsive than Festival,
> and all the other distros soon followed. I'm not sure where in the world you
> have come to the conclusion that Red Hat simply doesn't care about
> accessibility. Is it because your beloved Speakup, which is stuck in the
> staging tree for more than 3 years now still isn't enabled in the Fedora
> kernel? Sorry, but it's way past time to look elsewhere for text mode screen
> reading to something that isn't locked into a kernel. No other screen reader
> is bound to a kernel, and there are excellent reasons that go far deeper
> than accessibility for disabling staging in a vendor kernel. Rather than
> complaining that a distro vendor doesn't enable a potentially insecure
> and/or unstable part of its kernel so that we can have a screen reader in
> text mode, those who use text mode on a regular basis and need a screen
> reader for it need to either learn how to muck about in the Linux kernel
> itself so that the screen reader can get out of staging and into the kernel
> proper, or better yet, contribute to Fenrir development, where everything
> goes on in userspace and the screen reader only relies on interfaces to
> stable and well-tested parts of the kernel that are never disabled in any
> distro or vendor kernel. If Red Hat decides not to accept a Fenrir package,
> then and only then can we begin to arrive at the conclusion that maybe
> perhaps they don't give a care for accessibility.
> ~Kyle
> _______________________________________________
> Blinux-list mailing list
> Blinux-list at

James 5:16 Confess therefore your sins one to another, and pray one for 
another, that ye may be healed. The supplication of a righteous   man 
availeth much in its working. (ASV)

More information about the Blinux-list mailing list