Why I can't recommend Arch or Gentoo

Steve Matzura sm at noisynotes.com
Fri Oct 2 07:23:10 EDT 2015


On Mon, 21 Sep 2015 04:56:04 -0700, you wrote:

>I've been following the Talking Arch discussion with great interest.  I'm 
>sure what I am about to say will be rather unpopular, but I can only go by 
>my own experiences and what I've read.  If these issues can be addressed, I 
>think both distributions have great potential, but as things stand now, I 
>can't recommend them.  I'll start with Arch first.
>I had no problem downloading Arch and burning it to a CD.  It fit on a CD 
>without difficulty, but apparently the current release doesn't.  That is 
>most unfortunate as not everyone wants to burn a DVD for a command line 
>based distro.  You expect it with Fedora and Ubuntu, but even Debian has 
>several small CD images for installation.  Hopefully something can be done 
>to get it back to CD sized media.
>Unlike what Kyle says, I couldn't get speech upon boot.  I pressed Enter at 
>least six times, plus other random characters.  I've also encountered the 
>problem where speech starts after a few keys, but not in this case.  I know 
>where the problem lies.  It's because of my sound card, specifically the 
>emu10k1 driver.  It has a weird problem with no volume by default.  It isn't 
>muted, but the analog switch is toggled.  This was fixed a long time ago in 
>Debian and Ubuntu, but obviously didn't make it to Arch.  I reported this to 
>the support address and didn't get a reply for about two weeks.  There was 
>no interest in fixing the problem, even when I offered to help.
>Similarly, due to how brltty is configured by default, it locked up my 
>DECtalk Express.  I had to reset it by turning it off and on before it would 
>talk again.  Again, in the same email, I reported this to support and there 
>was no interest in fixing it.  In looking at the brltty.conf installed with 
>Debian testing, it looks like literally just commenting out a line would fix 
>this.  I understand that some people still use serial Braille displays, but 
>USB autodetection is the default and serial devices aren't very common 
>nowadays, so the serial detection can probably be safely disabled.  People 
>can still start brltty by hand or edit brltty.conf directly.
>Finally, due to its unofficial nature, it is not officially supported by the 
>Arch developers, so there isn't a way to file bugs in a public forum, such 
>... It has the same problem as Vinux (which I also don't 
>recommend) in that there are only two active developers working on it.  If 
>one of them gets sick or for some reason can't keep up with the latest 
>releases, so much for Talking whatever.  I am strongly against specialized 
>distributions for the blind exactly for this reason.  Whatever happened to 
>Oralux?  Both Debian and Ubuntu do have accessibility teams and the 
>developers take accessibility issues seriously.

That being the case, I don't understand why you don't like Vinux,
which is a modified Ubuntu distro. Is there a way to use Ubuntu (or
Debian) and get Speakup or some other speech working so it can be
installed or used accessibly without having to resort to a special

>much as I don't like Vinux, it does come up with a desktop which you can 
>try.  Ubuntu is the best in this regard in my opinion as it plays a sound so 
>you know it actually works. 

Then what's the best alternative?

>if the Linux community wants the blind Windows community to take Linux 
>seriously, there needs to be a talking GUI which just works.  Unless someone 
>really likes DOS, they aren't going to like the command line enough to give 
>it a fair chance.  This applies to the sighted community as well.

Funny you should say that, because I'd prefer a command-line setup
over a GUI any day in the week. Why? Because it's what I'm used to,
way back to SCO Xenix and AT&T System V. Give me a talking CLI and I
can rule my world.

>What do I recommend?  For people who do like the command line and have a 
>strong DOS background, I recommend Debian.  It has a talking, menu-driven 
>installer.  The command line is there if you want it, but it isn't required. 

Great. How do I start it talking after boot?

>  For most people, I recommend Ubuntu MATE.  

Same question applies.

More information about the Speakup mailing list