Why I can't recommend Arch or Gentoo

Jude DaShiell jdashiel at panix.com
Fri Oct 2 09:36:04 EDT 2015

Slackware also offers either small cd's or a dvd.

On Fri, 2 Oct 2015, Steve Matzura wrote:

> Date: Fri, 2 Oct 2015 07:23:10
> From: Steve Matzura <sm at noisynotes.com>
> Reply-To: Speakup is a screen review system for Linux.
>     <speakup at linux-speakup.org>
> To: Speakup is a screen review system for Linux. <speakup at linux-speakup.org>
> Subject: Re: Why I can't recommend Arch or Gentoo
> Tony:
> On Mon, 21 Sep 2015 04:56:04 -0700, you wrote:
>> All,
>> 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
> distro?
>> 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.
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