FYI: PinePhone community edition for Manjaro

Linux for blind general discussion blinux-list at
Tue Sep 1 01:21:47 UTC 2020

> Someone asked:
> What does the OS look like?

Erm, it's complicated?

# Background 

Most Linux systems are going to run the X Window System (aka X11) or some descendant
such as Wayland.  However, this mostly defines "mechanism, not policy".  So, each app
(including the window system) gets to decide how to lay out its portions of the screen.

This begs the question "What portion(s) of the screen does an app own?"  It varies,
but AFAIK each app normally pretends that it owns zero or more rectangular areas, on
some screen or screens.  In reality, most window systems use overlapping windows, so
portions of the underlying windows may be obscured from the sighted user.  However,
the app typically ignores such considerations; it's up to the user to make sure that
they don't hide critical information.  Window systems are a bit special; they own a
set of rectangles corresponding to the physical screens, minus the portions taken up
by the subsidiary apps.

The appearance of each app's area, in any event, is up to the app and the libraries
it uses.  More to the point to a blind user, however, is the fact that most apps use
the libraries to define the behavior of common widgets.  I presume that typical screen
readers interact with these widgets; does anyone here know some details about this?

Finally, some apps (such as web browsers) use internal forms of interpretation that
a screen reader can access.  So, for example, it might get information from CSS,
HTML, and perhaps JavaScript.

# Options

Any major Linux variant (e.g., Alpine, Arch, Debian) will support a variety of window
systems.  Descendant variants may also add their own; for example's Phosh (for
"phone shell") is quite popular among mobile Linux operating systems.  That said, most
variants will have some default standards; other window systems may receive less care. 

So, for example, Official Editions of Manjaro include Architect, Gnome, KDE, and XFCE.
Community Editions include Awesome, bspwm, Budgie, Cinnamon, Deepin, i3, LXDE, LXQt,
MATE, and Openbox.

All told, however, Manjaro supports 13 (!) "Desktop Environments and Window Managers (
Awesome, Budgie, Cinnamon, Deepin, Enlightenment, Gnome, i3, KDE, LXDE, LXQt, MATE,
Openbox, XFCE.  I've heard good things about MATE's accessibility, but I'm not any
sort of expert.

> Does it have swiping gestures or how is the setup?

Given the number of options cataloged above, the best answer may be "it depends".  In
any case, this isn't a question I can answer.

Rich Morin (rdm at

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