the direction of speakup

Martin G. McCormick martin at
Wed May 8 12:45:14 EDT 2013

	This is a tough issue as I spend much of my day in the
command-line world and I do not disagree with your basic
statement about needing a GUI, these days even though it is more
of a ball and chain than a helpful tool. It's like a sore knee
or a backache. Nature usually fixes those in time, but the GUI
devours resources and there is always that one last problem that
keeps it from working right.

	I have both a Macintosh for the GUI and I use speakup
under Debian wheezy with lynx and nmh under FreeBSD for mail.
This last bit has nothing to do with screen readers but mh or
the package now known as nmh breaks the email process in to
small modules that allow one to automate different parts of the
mail process. Part of my job is building automation that sends
messages to others when various things happen so the use of nmh
is a choice. 

	I have yet to get orca working on any system I use or
have access to. One such system is a Pentium4 running at 2.7 GHZ
and there is a gigabyte of RAM sitting there but there is
something in the BIOS that seems to know when I want to install
the latest ubuntu or Debian that might open up the world of
gnome and orca and the system figures out some clever way to

	By the way, speakup works beautifully on this system in
a command line console but The only time I ever heard orca talk
was on an obsolete version of ubuntu 9.0 which played for
sometimes an hour or so and sometimes a few seconds and then
would crash.

	You are correct in that basically, the speech process
needs to be separate from just about everything except the power
supply in order to hear the system start up from black.

	A Unix kernel is the master process and everything else
that happens on your system is spawned as a subprocess of the
master. Would it be possible to have a kernel equipped with
speakup spawn the rest of one's system as if it was a virtual
system? That could take care of the I/O.

	I used a hardware speech synthesizor for about 20 years
along with Kermit and DOS and a screen reader I wrote to
terminate and stay resident in MS-DOS so all my Unix boxes were
originally configured for a RS-232 console. That was back when
mother boards had RS-232 ports.

	You've really got to separate the speech or Braille
output from the rest or it will always bite you.

	Speakup should go in a sort of pre-kernel and that would
let you operate the real system in single-user mode, listen to
kernel messages and do all those things we should do if we are
to call ourselves Unix administrators.


"John G. Heim" writes:
> I totally disagree. Speakup has little purpose except for the fact that it
> runs in kernel space. First of all, there are other screen readers for 
> user
> space. And you really need a GUI these days. I suppose there are people
> using speakup all day every day. Mutt for email, lynx or edbrowse for the
> web.
> But I'm sure the vast majority of linux users use orca for every day
> tasks.
> The most important feature for speakup is to bail you out when you are
> really in trouble because your server is down. I don't know what you do 
> for
> a living but I do systems admin and I cannot live without speakup in 
> kernel
> space. About the only thing that I can think of that is equivalent to
> simply plugging in a hardware synth and getting boot messages would be
> setting up something like a Raspberry Pie to boot into kermit and display
> serial console messages. But it wouldn't be the same because you'd need a
> keyboard for the RPI. I don't know -- when a server is down, the last 
> thing
> I want to do is mess with all that stuff. I just want to plug in the
> hardware speech synth and press the print screen key.

More information about the Speakup mailing list