Re: New Linux Questions

Jeremy <icu8it2@...>

First of all, it's worth keeping in mind that there aren't a whole lot of differences between Ubuntu and Vinux, outside of a few changes in configurations and some slight differences in package installations for Vinux, but it's still pretty much Ubuntu. I've always gotten the idea that those people who get used to using Linux tend to move from Using Vinux back to Ubuntu, simply because it has a lot more support from a much larger community, which is pretty important especially with security. Ubuntu has always been pretty good about making sure that software such as Orca can be started inside their live environments and their installs stay pretty accessible, but the same can be said for Debian also. What makes these systems easier for us blind folks to use is the fact that most of the applications that either come as a default on the live environment or are installed as part of larger package selections, so mate, have mostly everything they need to work well with Orca included. These extra packages might include applications that are responsible for managing files, an application that lets you create and manage the panels that are on the top and bottom of your desktop, an application that lets you control connections to wireless networks that you can access from one of the panels, etc. Other parts of the system though that are also pretty important might be the log-on manager, so you'd hopefully want to find one that works well with Orca, else you'll have no speech or crappy accessibility in those areas such as entering your username and password to log on to your desktop. The console or terminal is also a pretty big deal in Linux, so you'd want to make sure that Orca works with the application that provides a terminal inside mate/gnome, it's gnome-terminal in an install of gnome. If you decide that you wish to use the system outside a desktop, which is basically the same type of interface that you get in the terminal interface in gnome, that's where you'd want speakup to be properly configured to work along side Orca, which means getting things to play nice with alsa/Pulse, some of the sound systems used in Linux.

Outside of these basic ideas that you'd want to keep in mind for any distribution are differences in how package updates are handled and how often they are released. This is probably what's most important for those of us relying on Orca and its accessibility framework, is having our accessibility packages updated more often means that we have better accessibility. It also means though that there might be things that aren't tested as much, so you can run into some pretty strange errors that can really suck if you don't know how to recover from them. This is one of the pretty big differences between arch-based systems, so an environment that uses a rolling-release type cycle compared to Debian based ones like Ubuntu, which only make huge changes to major packages perhaps every 6 months, every year, I forget what it is now. Basically what this comes down to for those using a Debian-based environment especially is that packages can sometimes be pretty far behind, so you want to figure out how to only update the accessibility stuff, which isn't necessarily an easy thing. The version of Orca that is most up to date and has all the really neat changes that Jony fixes are in the master version, and you normally don't get that through your package manager. Even in Arch, I don't think there's a package to install Orca master from within the package manager, pacman, I think you have to download it from gitt and do it that way. I think there's an add on type thing for pacman though that lets you install packages from the AUR, a different list of packages that are kinda outside the arch community that might have an install for it, but I can't remember now.

Anyways, sonar, which is an arch-based system is basically the same type of idea as vinux is for Ubuntu, it's a few blind people who've tinkered around with packages enough to know which ones work pretty well with Orca and have pre-installed and configured them. While it used to actually be pretty decent, when the main dev left the project and they started talking about moving the Sonar project from an arch-based system to a Fedora one, it became an absolute pile. I never quite understood everything that went on between the Sonar and Vinux projects, I just know that before Luke left, Luke was the main dev that worked on Vinux and who also worked for Ubuntu, I seem to recall, Luke was doing a lot of research into what was going to work the best for accessibility when Sonar and Vinux were merged. I don't know what happened to the other main dev that had been working on Sonar before, but I know that since he's been gone, the project has basically been dead and that people are constantly having issues in either getting it to boot, install, update, basically not usable as a daily OS.

Anyways, I've sorta forgotten what I first wanted to really say in my message, but if you are really serious about Linux questions and learning more, what systems people like, all that good stuff, I'd probably ask them on the Orca list. Some decent questions to probably start out with are:
Which version might I find works well for me being a beginner with Linux. I'd probably suggest Debian honestly, as it's close enough to Ubuntu that you can take some of the useful commands for stuff like apt and use them there and there's a really helpful guy there who works on accessibility development for Debian. They might also suggest you try out one of the versions of Ubuntu mate, so ask them what it will take for you to install Orca master or if you don't feel like going that far, what issues are there with Orca's reading of stuff on the desktop, does it read all the panels, are there workarounds that you need to use to read things like your wireless networks thing in the panel, whatever. Fedoras also not a bad suggestion, but I've recently seen posts there that suggest that there's changes in a part of the system that might cause us some headaches with Orca, it's called wayland, forgive me probably misspelling it. lol
Ask about using the latest Fedora with Orca and see what all they say about what changes you might need to make to go back to the software that works better for now. There's also the talking arch project which can be pretty neat, but it takes a lot of knowledge on how to set up software, configurations, a lot of the underlying stuff in Linux to get it up and going. You'd also need to know enough about how to keep your software up to date in its rolling-type release cycle, something that's probably not the easiest thing to do, which is why I've never really used arch long-term.
Hope this is at least a good start. :)
Take care.

On 1/25/2018 8:00 PM, Eleni Vamvakari wrote:
I realise that I have previously asked questions regarding Linux. I
am reviewing them, so that I don't repeat anything, but if I do, I
apologise. For the record, the most experience I have had with it is
using Vinux for a short time under Mate and Gnome. Basically, I
logged in and explored the system, but I didn't do anything serious
with it. The same is true of an older version of Sonar (I couldn't
get the newer ones to work). I am not sure if I was able to use
regular Ubuntu or not. So I am really new to all of this.

I once wrote a list of programs that I use with Windows, and I was
given Linux equivalents for almost everything, so that doesn't concern
me. But I have difficulty with some basic issues and concepts
relating to the operating system itself. I use that term loosely,
since I heard that it's not one system, but many. This brings me to
my first question. Aside from specialised systems, such as those
designed to run on very slow machines, or those with special software
for the disabled, what distinguishes one version of Linux from
another, particularly if they use the same desktop? For example, how
would Debbian Mate differ from Ubuntu Mate? How do the most
accessible versions of Linux and desktops differ from each other, I am
especially interested in 32-bit ones. from the perspective of a
screen reader user? I noticed that Red Hat was mentioned several
times. What is this version like?

Are all Linux distributions the same with regard to the commandline?
Can this be accessed with Orca, or does it require Speakup? How easy
would it be for an MS-DOS user to switch to Linux? I found several
comparisons of DOS and Linux commands, but I am not sure if they all
apply. ? My biggest challenge right now is understanding how to work
in a system that doesn't have drive letters. It makes slightly more
sense under a gui.

What about switching from the perspective of a user of Windows XP or
7? I was told that, due to my issues with Windows 7, I wouldn't like
Linux. As briefly as possible, these are UAC, permissions (not only
for running programs, but for
accessing certain folders), ribbons, libraries, save dialogue boxes,
copy/paste, search (last three all compared to XP), and the constant
"program is not responding" error. Does Linux contain most or all of
these? I heard that downloading files and updates is very different
between Windows and Linux. From the tiny bit that I know, it seems
that, under Linux, you don't just go to a site, find a program and
download it. You have to find specific packages or parts of programs.
Apparently, there is also no general update feature for the system
itself. Is any of this correct? In a recent thread, I mentioned
Debbian, and someone said that I would need to know about servers,
clients, and ssh. The only time I have ever used a server is when
connecting (automatically) to the NVDA server using NVDA Remote, and
when accessing a site with various files on it that a regular browser
couldn't read, or for which I needed a password. I forget the
specifics, because it was a very long time ago. But I remembr there
was a letter combination to describe that kind of site, and it wasn't

If anyone can think of anything else that he would like to add,
please do so. I really want to try using Linux. If it's best for me
to just play with Vinux for now, I will do that, but I would still
appreciate whatever tips people can give me, so that I can make the
best of my experience.


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