Thursday, 9 December 2010

Better Late Than Never!

I am pleased to announce that Vinux 3.1 (Based on Ubuntu 10.10) is finally ready for download from the Vinux mirrors! It is currently available as a CD or DVD in both 32 and 64bit versions (USB and Virtual versions will follow shortly). It has been a long time coming, but hopefully it will be worth the wait. On top of all the usual accessibility software, new features include a Quick Start Guide for beginners (Ctrl+Alt+Q), Autokey-GTK which can insert text automatically as you type based on pre-defined abbreviations, the Parcellite Clipboard Manager which allows you paste text from the clipboard history, X-Tile which allows you to tile windows automatically, Gnome Media Player as an accessible front-end to VLC, Conkeror a keyboard controlled Web Browser, Pidgin the Internet Messenger (with all the plugins) and Gufw a simple but effective Firewall Manager.

Other additions include: Alarm Clock, a simple GUI for setting timed notifications, GtkHash an md5sum calculator, SearchMonkey an advanced search tool, Terminator which allows you to open multiple tiled terminals in one window, Tux Commander a dual-paned file manager with keyboard shortcuts, World Clock which allows you to monitor times in different locations around the world, Gcolor2 a simple GUI for selecting colours from anywhere on the screen, the Specimen Font Previewer, Dlume a simple address book manager, the ToDo List package, mhWaveEdit a simple sound recorder/editor GUI, Sound Juicer an audio CD ripper, FSlint a file system cleaner, Gtk-ChTheme a GTK theme previewer/changer, Scheduled Tasks a simple GUI front-end for cron and HardInfo a system profiler and system benchmarker.

There are also three new packages unique to Vinux available from the Vinux repository and/or the EasyInstall-Office and OCR scripts. These are: Markup-Binder written by Isaac Porat, which makes the creation of complex navigable documents a simple process (the new QuickStart Guide was created using this), another application is Speedy-OCR written by Don Marang, which is a simple GUI front end which allows you to scan in documents and convert then to text and/or speech. And last but not least is Monitor-Toggle written by Luke Yelavich which allows you to turn off your monitor to save battery power and maintain your privacy.

There are also some changes under the hood. We unfortunately had to remove YASR from this release as it was no longer working under Maverick, and in order to make room on the CD we also had to remove Samba (Windows File-sharing) and the Festival Speech Synthesiser, although these can easily be reinstalled after installation. The dynamic font-size/colour-theme changing scripts have been revamped so that the desktop background and desktop icons change colour as well, and we have gone with a dark theme by default, with the window controls in the traditional top-right corner position. In addition there are now both desktop icons and menu launchers to take users straight to the Vinux website and the support/development groups.

Now for the bad news. I have already found a small bug in the latest release - however it is unlikely to affect the majority of users and there is a very simple workaround for those who are affected. Because of a minor typing error in one of the build scripts (I used a lowercase 'u' instead of an uppercase 'U' - I was tired!) the keybinding (Shift+Windows+Alt+Up) which was supposed to modify the multimedia keybindings in the event of the sound card being muted wasn't enabled. The workaround is simply to press Alt+F2, type 'volume_keys' (without the speech marks) then press Enter, then press Alt+Y and Enter again. Now you can use Windows+Alt+Right to unmute and raise the system volume. Of course, I also managed to provide completely the wrong keybindings for the new multimedia volume controls in the keybindings.txt file as well, just to confuse matters (I did mention I was tired didn't I?). So to clarify, once you have activated the new multimedia keybindings (should you need to) you should use Windows+Alt+Right/Left to raise/lower the volume and Windows+Alt+Down to mute/unmute the volume. My OCD Demon is now muttering away about the fact that I should remaster Vinux 3.1 to eliminate this stupid error, otherwise the world will probably end. On the other shoulder my Sanity Angel is reminding me that I really need a good rest and if this is the only bug it has I should count my blessings and rejoice!

To be continued...