FYI - Command Line Programs for the Blind, particularly Mutt, Emacs, and Emacspeak

Linux for blind general discussion blinux-list at
Thu Apr 14 20:33:39 UTC 2022


It's been a few years, I'm not sure how many, since I last tried Mutt.  
I seem to have a problem following some kinds of documentation that 
other folks have less trouble with, so maybe that was why I quit then.

I was prompted to look at Emacs again after attending a fall, 2019 Free 
Software Foundation day-long program on it.  I found a book on Bookshare 
that I think is titled HARLEY HAHN'S EMACS FIELD GUIDE.  I took quite a 
while to get focused on it, for reasons not worth mentioning.  Anyway, 
it probably was a better starting point for me than the Emacs help, 
except that its lists of commands are images I can't read (a common 
Bookshare problem, I've found). Still, there's enough actual text that 
the book has helped.

And, if I'm about to play seriously with Emacs, I might as well tackle 
Emacspeak and determine what I think of the "audio desktop."  I can only 
hope and try to work at it.


On 4/14/22 14:11, Linux for blind general discussion wrote:
> Al, to be fair I'm not sure when you last tried Mutt, ut I've run across a lot of sample configs that are just copy into a text file and plug your info in and save as .muttrc in your home directory and it workks, a quick search of mutt gmail config or mutt hotmail config usually leads to several sample ones to use. Thoughh I'm still unsure if anyone's made sensible modern keybinds or emaccs/emacspeak however, I've no clue where to even begin with that with the sheer amount of keys/keystrokes that'd need changing up
> On Thu, Apr 14, 2022 at 02:01:27PM -0400, Linux for blind general discussion wrote:
>> Kyle, I'm very glad to know that a Linux user with your level of knowledge
>> can still say that Emacs and Mutt have steeper learning curves than you find
>> worth the trouble.  (Correct me if I've oversimplified your view.) As it
>> happens, I've decided to try again with both Emacs and Emacspeak, and
>> possibly Mutt, but now I don't feel like such a dummy for having had trouble
>> with this software in my early and even later days with Linux.
>> Best!
>> Al
>> On 4/13/22 19:34, Linux for blind general discussion wrote:
>>> These debates can be both informative and useful for those new to linux
>>>> who haven't made their choices yet.
>>> Unfortunately I would say probably not. Usually in situations like this,
>>> once someone trying to make a choice to come to Linux or to stay where
>>> they are sees all this get lost in a shell and hand-edit config file
>>> kind of stuff, they usually run away before they get stuck in the
>>> quicksand. Or worse, they end up tossing the virtual machine someone
>>> told them to try into the recycle bin because it is just too hard to
>>> use. Of course this also applies when new users are trying to find out
>>> what applications are available for this or that and they are told of
>>> EMACS, Mutt, Vim and the finer points of what people affectionately call
>>> "links the chain" and "lynx the cat" vs w3m with all their quirks, or
>>> having to learn how to get startx to play nice so that they can run a
>>> more capable browser like the Firefox, Google Chrome or Brave that they
>>> are used to using, that is not only more comfortable, but is necessary
>>> on today's web, when all they had to do was to run a live iso of a
>>> ready-made distribution with a fairly modern desktop on it and they
>>> could be right at home in minutes. If someone asks me about this Linux
>>> thing they heard about, I like to tell them about what they can have up
>>> and running and feel fairly comfortable using in about 30 minutes or
>>> less, and if they like that, great. Then if they want to learn more
>>> about the power user stuff they can do, then and only then would I even
>>> mention a terminal, a shell or terminal applications. I probably still
>>> wouldn't say too much about EMACS or Mutt other than their availability
>>> though, since even though I've been using various Linux distros for
>>> almost 20 years, started of all things on Slackware, and even ran a home
>>> web and email server fairly early on, even I gave up on both of those
>>> because of the steep learning curve involved in just getting past the
>>> initial setup process. Even now, even though I still have my own mail
>>> and web servers, I still tend to use things like ISPConfig for my server
>>> administration, since although the web server is very easy to set up,
>>> deploying a mailbox on a virtual domain is still not for the faint of
>>> heart, unless it has an automated script like what comes in most
>>> web-based control panels that makes it much easier to set up. I mean if
>>> not for the craziness involved in setting up a mail server with 3 or 4
>>> mailboxes on 2 to 3 domains, I would just run caddyserver for my
>>> websites, which can do a lot really easily, and the caddyfile is very
>>> easy to understand and edit, although like most other web servers, it
>>> doesn't support .htaccess, which does lots of per site URL rewriting and
>>> custom error stuff that just isn't as easy to do on a per-site basis in
>>> other ways supported by non-htaccess servers. Still in any case, one
>>> point I really like to make is that although other operating systems
>>> tend to take features away from users, Linux tends to add features to
>>> desktop environments and applications, or just to add applications, all
>>> while taking care not to take things away from power users, and even
>>> adds things that make the power user experience better over time.
>>> Sure I know this list is a general one, aimed at users of all levels and
>>> skillsets. But being a more generalized list, it's probably better to
>>> keep things on a more general level that while not excluding power
>>> users, won't make new users turn tail and run for the window either.
>>> This is the beauty of the GNU/Linux landscape as a whole. It's not the
>>> wilderness, and it's not a barren wasteland either. It's a whole world
>>> with enough freedom and even comfort for everyone. I found long ago that
>>> it is not the geeky OS that only a server admin or someone with a
>>> masters in computer science could love, and I do enjoy letting the world
>>> know that I use it and they can too.
>>> ~Kyle
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