Vinux is a distribution of Linux based upon Ubuntu to address accessibility and needs of the blind and visually impaired community. I call it a platform because the purpose is not to reduce pressure on the mainstream distributions, such as Debian, Ubuntu, and all others from addressing accessibility concerns. It is a practical maneuver to make using Linux as easy as possible for users with a vision handicap. The friendly, responsive support lists and gathering of users and developers with common goals makes this software and group a platform for progressing the state of accessibility in Linux. Luke Yelavich, an accessibility Engineer for Ubuntu, considers Vinux a testbed for accessibility. Our goal is to not only provide a better, more accessible Vinux environment, we want this to ripple back through the mainstream distributions and upstream packages.
We have been busy creating our own applications for our community. They are available in our repositories for all versions of Vinux. Originally created to meet my own needs, I have developed speedy-ocr. It is an easy to use program to scan, perform OCR on paper, a screen snapshot or any type of image file within the gnome graphical desktop. We also have developed an orca-teacher, talking-clock, audiobook-converter, markup-binder, cfh (Call For Help), monitor-toggle, and sonic. Several more are in progress.
The latest long term stable version of Vinux, which is supported for three years, Vinux 3.0.1, is based on Ubuntu 10.0.4 Lucid.
Vinux attempts to provide a stable working platform for Linux Accessibility Technology. It comes preconfigured for several screen readers. Orca is the default for the graphic gnome desktop and SpeakUp is the default for the consoles. Both work through Speech Dispatcher and pulseaudio. All versions of Vinux use pulseaudio in system mode so that speech is always available. Most users love the experience of having speech in all areas, even when logging into a console. However, some hardware does not allow pulseaudio to start properly, due to timing issues. Therefore, the Vinux 3.2.1 Natty release ISO has pulseaudio set to user mode by default. Once installed to your computer, it can be switched back and forth with scripts; 'sudo pulsesystem' and 'sudo pulseuser'. After typing these commands in a terminal or console, it will ask for your password. It will then ask if you want to reboot the computer now when it finishes. There are also two magnifiers configured for instant use. Vinux is available at vinuxproject.org.
I am the Software Development Coordinator for Vinux. If you have any interest in contributing your expertise in improving Linux accessibility, I urge you to give Vinux a test drive. Even for experienced Linux users, it is nice not to spend all your time getting speech and magnification configured. Accessibility is just there! Even during the live boot and installation.
Once you are hooked on Vinux, there are many ways to contribute. We have developers creating applications which meet the needs of our community, developers who spend time contributing to specific projects, such as orca or the qt-at-spi bridge, testing, documentation, or just helping others on the support mailing list. I urge those with programming skills to get involved either directly creating Vinux packages or aid other critical projects. As a testbed for these critical projects, gnome, and Ubuntu as a whole, Vinux can utilize it's testing repositories that are easily available to a large group of testers.
We are transitioning the method we use to build our Vinux distributions from a manual process guided by a vuild bash script to a more automated process which depends on packages and metapackages (used to group packages). We need more individuals capable of building such packages. We currently rely on our own package repositories for our applications and other applications that we have patched. Now we need to create packages that implement the Vinux customizations. One resource on this process is my Vinux Packageing Tutorial.To contact me about your background and willingness to utilize your programming skills, contact me at: Development@vinuxproject.org