Sonar GNU/Linux merges with Vinux

Kelly Prescott kprescott at
Fri Mar 17 03:30:04 UTC 2017

I use BSD all the time.
I use Qemu to set them up.
This gives me the text consoles and I can install them and speakup does 
the work.
I do NetBSD, OpenBSD and FreeBSD all that way.
once they are installed, I just ssh to them.

On Thu, 16 Mar 2017, Eric Oyen wrote:

> that was one of the things I tried. I never could get it to work. Of course, someone may have properly ported it since I last tried some 4 years ago.
> the only thing severely lacking in OpenBSD is braille/speech support in the installation. I mean, seriously, its a text based console environment so it should be rather easy to do, but getting Theo to see that is like pulling Teeth!
> oh well, I will get a little sighted assistance here in the next few days and get an image setup under vmware. then I can get the post config done and actually be able to log into it. at that point, it should be relatively easy to add the ports tree and compile BrlTTY.
> meanwhile, back to the actual issue at hand…. Does anyone here remember openSuse? I spent more than a year trying to get them to make their product accessible. Their version of Linux had some nice features, but it wouldn't work with any screen readers and there were no packages for such either. I kept asking on their forums and eventually a developer chimed in and stated they had no interest in making their product accessible (claiming too much work, etc. etc.). That was 7 years ago and they are still not accessible. So, it isn't just fedora that has an issue with us.
> so, my question is this: why is Vinux now merging with SONAR (a Fedora based project) when Fedora is known to have little interest in our needs? I don't know about the rest of you, but it seems to me that we are being treated like the red headed step child here.
> -eric
> from the central office of the Technomage Guild, access technology division 6.
> On Mar 16, 2017, at 2:00 PM, Anders Holmberg wrote:
>> Hi!
>> I think you can build brltty for bsd.
>> But i am not sure.
>> And that requiers a braille display.
>> /A
>>> 16 mars 2017 kl. 21:57 skrev Eric Oyen <eric.oyen at>:
>>> and now we see the crux of the issue. its called a lack of proper attention to the problem.
>>> this is the biggest holdup to a lot of us blind folks, lack of coherent information. It's most telling in the local activities and events arena, but it shows up in technology as well. SOunds like it's time to spread the news on FB, swarm, snap chat, twitter, and any other social media outlet we can find. I might even point this article at Theo De Raadt of OpenBSD and see if he will actually consider it.. It would be nice to have a little support from some of the big names behind alternative Operating systems (like the BSD ecology or the Linux ecology). In fact, I will cc this missive to them. I doubt it will get any sort of useful response, but there is no harm in trying.
>>> btw, I was involved in trying to get a screen reader working in OpenBSD. It was speakeasy and it failed rather ignominiously. Since I am not a coder, I didn't exactly have the tools required to properly port it. what I ended up with only partially worked. Getting any help from the OpenBSD development corps was a lost cause right from the outset. Here it is over 4 years later and I have one since given up on ever getting some help from them. Perhaps it's time that a bunch of us bug Theo directly. if he gets enough emails on the subject, he might reconsider his position. His developer email is Theo de Raadt <deraadt at>
>>> anyway, it also sounds like we need to get everyone else in the community of the blind on board with this. that means hitting up the various lighthouse organizations, the NFB, the ACB, and the AFB as well as the world blind union. SInce I am also on a number of technology lists dedicated to blind users and technology (including almost all of the mac lists for the blind), it shouldn't be that hard to get this information out. perhaps partnering up with a few of the bigger blindness blogs wouldn't hurt either.
>>> -eric
>>> from the central office of the Technomage Guild, access technology division 6.
>>> On Mar 16, 2017, at 8:39 AM, John G Heim wrote:
>>>> It's funny you should say it's long overdue for there to be a blindness related non-profit. I was part of a group who created exactly that several years ago. After much discussion, we called ourselves The International Association Of Visually Impaired Technologists or IAVIT. See
>>>> After creating the non-profit, the real problem has been lack of interest in using it's resources. We are incorporated as a 501c3 in the USA so we can legally accept donations. We have a lawyer, a bank account, a paypal account at the non-profit rates, donated server space, etc. The entire infrastructure is there. We're just waiting for people to say, "Hey, I could use this or that."
>>>> On 03/16/2017 07:53 AM, 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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