Accessible Distros for a beginner?

Linux for blind general discussion blinux-list at
Thu Aug 20 18:06:09 UTC 2020

I'd say vanilla Knoppix running in Adriane mode would be a good choice
for a blind Linux beginner... though there's a few caveats:

1. There hasn't been an official Knoppix ISO with Adriane as the
default boot option for several years... It's just a one line change
to a single plain-text config file to make Adriane the default, but
I'm aware of no simple means of making this change. I usually end up
mounting the iso, copying it's contents to a folder, making the
change, and building a new ISO everytime I need to make a new
LiveDVD... things might be simpler if you're comfortable writing an
iso to flash media.

2. Knoppix can be installed to harddrive, and my running system is a
highly customized harddrive install of Knoppix, but Knoppix is
designed as a Live environment first and foremost and lacks a few
things you generally want in a harddrive-installed OS. For one, the
default knoppix user doesn't have to sign-in when booting into Adriane
mode and doesn't have to enter a password when running sudo to perform
administrative tasks.

3. New public releases are infrequent and with no clear schedule.
Knoppix uses the software repositories of Debian, so if you're
familiar with apt and are running from a Flash drive or hard drive,
you can keep things up to date, but if you're running a Live DVD, you
might have to wait a year or more for a new version of the whole
system to be made available.

That said, when booted in Adriane mode, Knoppix presents a text-based
menu that's very accessible and serves as a front-end for performing
several common tasks using various console applications, the menus
being navigatible with arrow keys or by typing the first digit of a
menu item's entry number to jump to it and with the 0th entry being a
guide on how to operate SBL, the text-mode screen reader Knoppix uses
for console speech. The menu also includes an option for dropping down
to the command line where typing exit will take you back to the menu
and the option of launching graphical applictions with the option to
launch Firefox or LibreOffice as stand-alone with Orca or to launch a
full desktop environment(Knoppix defaults to LXDE, though the disc
also contains Gnome and KDE if I remember correctly).

Admittedly, I don't use most of Adriane's features myself due to
familiarity with the command line, but I continue using Knoppix
because I have no idea how to get SBL running on vanilla Debian or how
to replicate Adriane launching Firefox+Orca without needing to bother
with the rest of the Desktop environment.


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