the direction of speakup

acollins at acollins at
Thu May 9 09:26:33 EDT 2013

I always subscribe to "The right tool for the job" philosophy.  In other
words, use whatever tool works for the task at hand.  What this boils
down to for me is that most of the time, I use text consoles.  For web
browsing, I use gnome, orca, and firefox.  Sometimes, when I know I will
want to cut and paste between a text application, and firefox, I use
gnome-terminal, but not very often.  Since I'm a dedicated user of nmh,
all my email is done in a text console using speakup.  If it works, use
it!  If it don't, find something that does!


>I have found that Orca is insufficient without Speakup, as there are times 
>that Orca will not speak well enough, and I have to go to the terminal.
>----- Original Message ----- 
>From: "John G. Heim" <jheim at>
>To: "Speakup is a screen review system for Linux." 
><speakup at>
>Sent: Wednesday, May 08, 2013 10:03 AM
>Subject: Re: the direction of speakup
>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.
>On 05/08/13 08:37, Robert Spangler wrote:
>> I throw my vote in for putting Speakup in userspace.  As others have
>> said, if we use software speech, we aren't hearing the earliest boot
>> messages anyways.  While there are still many folks using hardware
>> speech, it seems as though the software speech trend is expanding.  In
>> addition, there are other ways of checking boot messages.  It is a
>> little disheartening, however, because being able to hear messages from
>> the start of boot time has been a major advantage to Linux users but I
>> think that getting Speakup out of the kernel will benefit us all in the
>> long run.
>> Thanks,
>> Robert Spangler, B.A. in Urban Studies and Spanish
>> spangler.robert at
>> On 5/2/2013 3:22 AM, covici at wrote:
>>> If we gave up the kernel, which I would really prefer not to do, then we
>>> could use speech dispatcher and write drivers for the serial synths or
>>> usb ones.  But this is to be decided.
>>> acollins at wrote:
>>>> Hello all.  If Speakup were a user space app, you could start it from
>>>> inittab, like you can brltty.  It would also be able to access the video
>>>> scrollback buffer.
>>>> I don't think the support for isa synths needs to go away just yet.
>>>> Believe it or not, there are still a few folks running older machines
>>>> with
>>>> isa slots with isa synths in them.  Besides this, for those who really
>>>> want them, it is still possible to buy machines with isa slots, so if
>>>> you have an isa synth, you can use it in a new machine.  So I don't
>>>> think it's time to drop isa support yet.
>>>> Having said that, adding usable usb serial, and support for usb synths
>>>> should be a priority.  At this point, I find myself ambivalent about
>>>> whether speakup stays in the kernel or not.  You don't get any better
>>>> access to boot messages with software speech than you could from user
>>>> space.  If the user space Speakup could be started from inittab, then
>>>> you could still get info about file system checks and such.  The only
>>>> thing you couldn't get, which you can't get with software speech either,
>>>> is kernle panic errors.  With Speakup in the kernel, and using a
>>>> hardware synth, you can sometimes still get that info, depending on how
>>>> the kernel panics.  There have been a couple of times when this has been
>>>> a life saver for me, but it happens so rarely, that I could probably
>>>> live with the inconvenience.  Thus I'm finding myself ambivalent about
>>>> Speakup staying in the kernel.  But then I'm getting older, and
>>>> ambivalent about a lot of things.  (grin)
>>>> Gene Collins
>>>>> hmmm, I wonder if we could just add a kernel driver as though we were
>>>>> writing one for a new serial card that way we would conform to what the
>>>>> kernel devs want?  From within that, maybe you could specify the way to
>>>>> get the device to use, or maybe have some simple user space program to
>>>>> tell it the device -- this is way off the top of my head, but is
>>>>> interesting to me.  You could write drivers for speech dispatcher for
>>>>> serial synths, but getting that into an initramfs would be difficult,
>>>>> you would have to change the generation scripts for each distribution,
>>>>> etc.
>>>>> my $.02 (or .2 trillion with hyperinflation).
>>>>> William Hubbs <w.d.hubbs at> wrote:
>>>>>> All,
>>>>>> let's start a new thread here to figure out what needs to be done with
>>>>>> speakup.
>>>>>> Here are my ideas and the issues I see with them:
>>>>>> 1. What should we do with support for the internal ISA synthesizers?
>>>>>> My thought is that these can be dropped.
>>>>>> 2. We basically have two choices for the serial synthesizer issues.
>>>>>> a. If we keep this code inside the kernel, the bottom line is it needs
>>>>>> to be completely rewritten and there need to be changes made on the
>>>>>> kernel side to make it work correctly.
>>>>>> This will take time, and someone here will need to
>>>>>> work closely with the kernel  developers, and we'll need to find
>>>>>> someone
>>>>>> in the kernel community to guide us -- maybe not by writing the
>>>>>> code for
>>>>>> us, but at least consulting with us.
>>>>>> b. If we move this code into user space, we can code it however we
>>>>>> want,
>>>>>> and that frees us from involving the kernel team.
>>>>>> question:
>>>>>> If we move the serial code to user space, I realize there is a concern
>>>>>> about missing early boot messages. Would putting the user space daemon
>>>>>> into an initramfs solve this?  would you be able to start it early
>>>>>> enough to get all of the boot messages if it was in an initramfs?
>>>>>> William
>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>> Speakup mailing list
>>>>>> Speakup at
>>>>> --
>>>>> Your life is like a penny.  You're going to lose it.  The question is:
>>>>> How do
>>>>> you spend it?
>>>>>          John Covici
>>>>>          covici at
>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>> Speakup mailing list
>>>>> Speakup at
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>John G. Heim, 608-263-4189, jheim at
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