Hi Thomas, Hey, were you ever on the Blind-L list by Brian Lingard? It was for the discussion of dos and linux. Not sure if the list is still around. I haven't been on it for 10 years or so.
BFN ----- Original Message ----- Hi Hayden, To start with I actually first heard about Linux while I was a student of Wright State University around 1998 or 1999. At the time I was taking a lot of computer science courses, and I was taking a course on network administration as well as various programming courses. When it comes to network servers Unix based operating systems such as Solaris, BSD, Sco, Linux, etc out number Windows servers by a huge margin. So obviously this network admin course I was taking was aimed at instructing students to use Unix operating systems. Unfortunately, the Unix labs were not eequipped for the blind, nor were most Unix operating systems remotely accessible fora blind network admin at that time. Obviously this could have been serious trouble for me personally. Fortunately, a friend of mine, a teaching assistant in the class, told me there was a free Unixlike operating system called Linux. Besides being free he had heard there was a blind mailing list for Linux called blinux. So I checked it out and found out there were console screen readers such as Speakup being developed for the Linux operating system. So I downloaded a copy of Red Hat Linux 6.0, got the Speakup source code, patched the Linux kernel, and recompiled the Red Hat kernel with Speakup and configured it to use my Dectalk Express for speech output. Voila, I had a completely accesssible Linux operating system, and was able to do all the lab work using Linux. Fortunately, it was similar enough to the Unix operating system Wright State was running that I made it through the course without a hitch. As it turned out Linux was very helpful in my programming classes as well. For example, when I was taking a course on SQL, the Structure Quary Language, and the class was using Oricle. Oricle is a very popular, extremely expensive, database system used by large companies. Unfortunately for me besides being very expensive it was also pretty darn inaccessible using Jaws, Window-eyes, or anything else Windows had to offer. Big problem for me. Around that time an open source database system, MySQL, was starting to become popular with companies and definitely with Linux users/supporters. Unlike Oricle it was free and also quite accesssible. So instead of logging lab time with Oricle, which sucked accessibility wise, I could sit at home in my dorm room and practice creating SQL databases with my good friend MySQL for Linux and the Speakup screen reader. Once again Linux had just saved my butt in a situation that could have gone very badly. After leaving college I pretty much kept one Linux computer around for odd jobs. After all I knew how to use it, and I could use it as a file server, practice web server, setup cvs to manage source code revisions, whatever. In other words I pretty much used at as a home server operating system in the way I was trained to think of it while maintaining Windows for everything else. However, all of that began to change around 2007 after Windows Vista came out. Early in 2007 Windows Vista was released to the mainstream market and around the first week of February 2007 I ran out and purchasd Windows Vista upgrades for all of our Windows XP computers. Unfortunately, at that time Windows Vista was very unstable, crashed a lot, had several driver problems, and ran slower than a snale on all of my computers. While there were many things i personally liked such as improved security, the U.I. looked nicer, etc the early releases of Windows Vista were a host of technical problems that dramaticly detracted from the OS. I felt, as many other people did, that Vista was released far too soon and Microsoft was just milking the PC market prefering to sell an unstable product based on Microsoft's name alone rather than quality and stability. However, I think I could have put up with the quality control issues if Microsoft hadn't decided to outright screw me with their polacies and hardware product activation crap. As I have mentioned before About three or four months after I had purchased all these Vista upgrades my wife and I moved and my desktop computer's motherboard was damaged in the move. I had no choice but to order a new motherboard and replace the existing one. What happened next is quite obvious. As soon as I repaired my desktop Windows Vista told me that my product license was invalid. Since Windows Vista uses a hardware based authorization system my license was junk. I didn't especially like Windows Vista trying to tell me I was running an illegal copy of Windows, and to purchase a valid license. It was absolute bologna because I did have a valid product license for Vista, but thanks to Microsoft's anti-piracy schemes I was being treated like a criminal. All the same I called Microsoft up, explained what happened, and asked to have my authorization reset or something. No such luck. He explained to me microsoft's polacy, and that sinceI replaced my motherboard I needed a new product license which would cost me $225 in addition to the paid technical support fee. Besides the fact I needed a totally new license Microsoft would have charged me more than what I could get a new boxed retail copy of Vista from Wal-Mart for. To say I was out raged wouldn't even cover it. To make a long story short I pretty much changed operating systems then and there because of that experience. I discovered i could no longer personally accept or put up with that kind of treatment from Microsoft or any company. I felt that Microsoft had gotten too ritch and greedy through abusing their customers. They cared more about enforcing their anti-piracy polacies than doing the right thing. My situation was just an excuse or means of getting more money out of me, and they obviously expected me to just roll over and cough up the money to replace my copy of Vista. They were wrong. Unlike there millions of other customers I had used Linux off and on for years as a secondary operating system. Up until that day I hadn't really considered using Linux as my primary operating system. However, around that time Orca was just coming out and accessibility for the Gnome desktop was rapidly getting better. So I started looking at replacing Windows with Linux, and began moving away from Windows products completely. Well, earlier this year my wife's laptop got hit by a major virus attack, and Windows got screwed up. We were going to reinstall it when we discovered that the sticker that had her product key on it was unreadable. Which caused a big problem. Since we couldn't reinstall Windows without a product key and Microsoft would just charge us for a new one we had two choices. We could run out and buy a copy of Windows 7 to reinstall her system, or we could put Linux on their and let her try it out. After having her system screwed up with a virus and she lost some pictures she naturally was against reinstalling Windows on their. So we put Ubuntu Linux on their. Now, as it turns out, she really likes Linux like i do and neither of us are really big Windows fans any more. Too many things have happened to put faith in the operating system or Microsoft. So there you have it. There is my history with Linux, and the main reason I switched is because of Microsoft's polacy of charging customers more money to issue a new product license for doing nothing more criminal than fixing their computer or rreplacing hardware components which is their right. However, that is not only why I firmly stand behind Linux and to a lesser degree Mac OS. For one thing we have software security issues. From the beginning Linux is a whole lot safer from viruses, worms, trojans, and other nasty forms of malware. I'm not saying that there isn't some nasty malware out there for Linux, but it is pretty rare. A person running Linux today is hundreds of times less likely to be infected by a worm, virus, or whatever than a Windows user with antivirus software etc. Then, we have the issue of cost. Why is it that people are willing to spend $199 for Windows 7 Home Premium, $1,000 for Jaws, another $500 for Microsoft Office, etc when you can get Ubuntu Linux 10, the Orca screen reader, and Open Office 3.2 for free? To my way of thinking Linux offers huge financial savings for anyone, and more importantly to the blind. It is no secret that here in the USA over 80% of the blind are unemployed, on fixed incomes, and Linux is a much better alternative from a financial perspective. The fact of the matter is if it weren't for government agencies pitching in to help pay for software like Jaws the average blind American couldn't afford it. Many are lucky enough to just keep up with their SMAs, and ocationally purchase the next Windows upgrade. Finally, we have the issue of accessibility. Welll, there is no doubt that Windows still has superior web access, and in some ways something like Jaws provides better accessibility for Windows than Orca does for Linux. However, it is also true Linux has some accessibility improvements that kicks Windows butt. Installing Linux for example. If you grab the Vinux 3.0 cd and let it boot Orca comes up talking without having to do a single thing. You can install the entire Vinux operating system from scratch, start to finish, with speech running. Since when can you stick the Windows XP cd or Windows 7 cd in the drive and have it boot up talking and allow you to do a talking install. Well, since never, because apparently Microsoft isn't interested in having a self-voicing setup. Some Linux developers are. So in conclusion my personal feelings about Microsoft aside there are some other compelling reasons to use Linux these days. It is stable, reliable, more secure, and is inexpensive too. given some time I do believe that linux may even rival Windows in accessibility because the people who are helping create Orca and other access technologies are themselves blind. The Vinux operating system, a modified Ubuntu Linux distribution, is a case in point of how blind Linux users are dedicated to take control of accessibility issues and make it what it can and should be. No longer are they sitting around waiting on somebody like Microsoft or Freedom Scientific to improve accessibility issues for them. The power is now in the hands of the average user and not some wealthy fortune 500 company. As a developer myself I do do admire and understand the advantages to having an open source operating system and applications. Especially, when it comes to accessibility. How many times have you downloaded or tried a program that doesn't work very well with Jaws or Window-Eyes? The true power with open source software here is that a programmer such as myself can go to the developers website, find the original source code, modify it with accessibility improvements, and offer the changes to the developer for inclusion in the next release. That way I have contributed my skills to the project, and everyone else would directly benefit from it. It is a cummunity effort that gets things done rather than waiting and hoping that the company like Microsoft gets around to maybe adding accessibility to product x. Cheers! Jim Now if I can run Win3 under DV under Unix... j...@kitchensinc.net http://www.kitchensinc.net (440) 286-6920 Chardon Ohio USA --- Gamers mailing list __ Gamers@audyssey.org If you want to leave the list, send E-mail to gamers-unsubscr...@audyssey.org. You can make changes or update your subscription via the web, at http://audyssey.org/mailman/listinfo/gamers_audyssey.org. All messages are archived and can be searched and read at http://www.mail-archive.com/gam...@audyssey.org. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the management of the list, please send E-mail to gamers-ow...@audyssey.org.