Sunday, 13 March 2011

Vinux 3.0.1 Released!

The Vinux 3.0.1 release based on Ubuntu 10.04.2 LTS is now available for download. This combines all of the accessibility of Vinux 3.1 with the stability of Vinux 3.0 as well as a few completely new features. In addition to the existing three screen-readers (Orca, Speakup and YASR) this release also includes Emacspeak 'The Complete Audio Desktop' pre-configured and ready to go out of the box. You can now create audio books from text-based files using our exclusive Audiobook Converter package, browse our new HTML based Vinux Manual to help get you started, install the latest version of Libre Office using an EasyInstall script, and customise your desktop experience with Ubuntu Tweak. It is initially available as a 32bit CD, a 64bit CD, a 32bit DVD version and a 64bit DVD version (which both comes with Libre Office and non-free multimedia codecs pre-installed). The VMWare virtual edition, and a 32bit USB version will be available shortly. An upgrade script has also been released that allows people to upgrade from Vinux 3.0 to 3.0.1:

In order to update run the following commands in a terminal:

git clone git://

cd vinuxscripts

sudo make install

sudo buildvinux

This will start the interactive Vinux buildscript which runs in a terminal, it will beep when it expects input from the user. I have tested this script on Vinux 3.0 and it upgraded without any issues, but if you have installed software which I haven't I cannot guarantee that it won't mess that up, so make a backup of everything before you upgrade. I know that the script works, but I am not sure how usable it is at the moment because of the amount of data which will be read out. Most of the questions are straight-forward - when emacspeak is installed you will have to select 'espeak' and then 'none' for hardware synths. When the script has finished running you should restart the computer and try out your shiny new Vinux 3.0.1 - I would like feedback on the usability of the script - I have also uploaded a simplified non-interactive version of the script to the mailing list which just asks for your username and doesn't install emacspeak.

One or two people have found that after the installation of 3.0.1 Orca and Speakup start talking gibberish. In fact it is trying to read English text in Mandarin. We do not know why this has happened, but we suspect that it is to do with a corrupted ISO, CD or a unreliable CD drive. If this happens you can fix Orca by opening the Orca Preferences Manager and selecting another voice. We recommend selecting the English(en) voice if you want the default voice. However, to fix Speakup you will have to run:

sudo rm -f /usr/share/espeak-data/voices/zh

This will delete the Mandarin voice, or try replacing and renaming the 'zh' voice file with your preferred voice from the /usr/share/espeak-data/voices/en/ directory.

As always we do not recommend that users update any packages after installing Vinux unless they have a very good reason to do so. Installing unnecessary updates can break your system and it may be very difficult or impossible to repair if you lose speech without performing a complete re-installation. Although not invulnerable to viruses and hacking, Linux is significantly more secure than Windows and unless you are running a server with open ports and/or installing packages from untrusted third party sources, you are unlikely to have any major security issues (although we obviously can't guarantee this). If you are running a server with open ports then you should install security patches when they are available, and if you really want to try a new version of a specific package then only update that individual package, don't just install all of the available updates. If you do decide to install updates despite this warning then please make a backup of your files and/or installation before doing so.

I will now be having a break from Vinux Development for a few weeks, which will give me time to reflect on how the project is going and in what direction it should take next. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this release...