Blind vs. mainstream distros

Linux for blind general discussion blinux-list at
Mon May 1 17:58:33 UTC 2017

Samuel writes:

> Chris, on lun. 24 avril 2017 07:48:29 -0700, answered:
>> Yeah, brltty-minimal cuts out a lot of dependencies you don't want or
>> need on a console-only CD.
> Ok, but couldn't Arch include a brltty-minimal package?  For the people
> who want a minimally-installed system, that makes sense.  In Debian we
> have separated pieces of brltty into a few binary packages, to avoid the
> dependencies.  Doesn't Arch have a way to do something similar?  Doesn't
> it make sense generally?

Arch does do some package splitting, but not nearly as much as Debian
does.  And as far as the dependencies go, the big offender here is the
X-Window braille driver, which as far as I can tell, allows someone to
view braille dots on an X screen or somesuch.  It pulls in a boatload of
X dependencies.  Not so useful on a console-only boot medium intended
for a blind person.
If that were split out, I think there probably wouldn't be much use for a
brltty-minimal.  And maybe split out the at-spi driver, Python bindings, etc.
But I'm probably the wrong guy to be having this discussion.  I haven't
really been involved with Arch for a number of years.
Maybe it's something Kyle and Kelly could discuss with the Arch developers.

> Chris continued:
>> I had a long discussion about adding accessibility to boot media
>> on the Arch Releng mailing list, way back in 2008.  Basically, the
>> conclusion was that it was better for TalkingArch to be a separate
>> project, rather than adding some accessibility boot option to the
>> official media.
> But then users have to find that this separate TalkingArch project
> exists, distribution developers are less aware of the need for
> accessiblity, and all distributions based on Arch do not benefit from
> the talking option.

All true, I'll grant you that.
As for point 1, you're always going to have to do some research as a
blind person if you want to install any Linux distro.  That's just the
nature of being blind and adapting to the world.
And if you put "Arch Linux Blind" into a search engine, Talking Arch is
the first thing you'll get.

Let me give you an anecdotal counterargument.
My girlfriend wanted to install a certain Linux distro.  It had
accessibility in the install medium.  She downloaded it and typed the
correct stuff at the boot prompt.  No speech.  All of the software was
there.  At one time, it worked.  I know because I used it.
But due to bit-rot, it no longer worked for her.  Nobody had tested it.
It was just there taking up space on the disk.
When I maintained Talking Arch, I tested every release with at least one
boot to make sure that it came up talking.  I'm sure Kyle and Kelly do
the same.  But in this built-in accessibility case, nobody actually
tested their release to make sure that it came up talking.

I'm not arguing that specialized distros are necessarily better or even
needed.  What I am saying is that if a distro is going to make releases
with builtin accessibility, they better have someone on their release
team who knows how it works and tests it on each release to make sure
that it doesn't bitrot.

-- Chris

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