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Welcome to our reviews page. Here, you can read what users have to say, the good, the bad and the ugly. We’ve not edited anything out, the only thing we have done is made grammatical corrections. If you’d like to submit a review for inclusion on this page, please feel free to do so via the contact us form. Thanks to all of you that have submitted reviews so far, keep them coming!
When I first started using computers, I think it was back in 1999 or so, I started with windows 98 and jaws for windows 3.1. For the next five or ten years jaws and whatever Microsoft programs happened to be on the computers I worked with, was all I knew. I knew nothing about open source, or any alternative operating systems. I had vaguely heard of Linux, but only that it was some insanely difficult and hacker only operating system and I didn't know that it was accessible to the blind at all.
I got my first laptop in 2007. Naturally, it came with windows vista and the frustration began. Before this, I had some system admin or automated program maintain my computer for me. I had no experience with system maintenance, defragmenting, antivirus, etc. Over the next year or so I managed to with a lot of difficulty, install a semi accessible antivirus program, find a likewise partly accessible defragmenter, and everything went, if not well, at least tolerably. Then I broke my windows install. How exactly I’m not completely sure, but I booted up my laptop one day and it refused to boot. So I broke out the recovery disk, and found to my horror a completely inaccessible, and worse, mouse driven interface which required sighted assistance to recover my system to factory default, where I then had to re-install and re-configure everything from the ground up. This happened at least four if not five times.
Fast-forward to mid 2011. I have a different laptop, an hp this time, and am struggling to maintain a windows 7 install with NVDA, and not having much luck. My system is out of date, no antivirus because I can't find any accessible ones, pay or free, and slow because it won't stay defragmented. I'm fed up with windows, all the payware, the fragmentation issues, the Microsoft updates that don't update the system completely. Fed up with having to search all over the net just to keep my system up to date. One day in mid august I typed in Linux distributions for the blind. I knew nothing about Linux except how to start orca I had picked that up somewhere, and my Linux journey started. I found vinux 3.2.1 on the first page of search results, and I downloaded it.
Looking over the vinux home page I was encouraged. It comes with screen readers already enabled and is accessible out of the box? Interesting. I put the DVD into my DVD drive and rebooted. Welcome to orca. Hey, it works! I fiddled around with the orca preferences for a little bit, adjusting the rate. I hated the ESpeak voice I was used to eloquence in JFW, but as I couldn't find it anywhere decided to play around. The vinux manual was absolutely essential. I was surprised when a web page opened up in Firefox when the system started, and I took the time to read through the manual. I had never seen concise, well written, helpful documentation that was honestly trying to help me. I then read through the key bindings file, on the advice of the documentation and was hooked. I selected the install vinux 3.2.1 icon on the desktop and ran through the installer. I couldn't get it through my head. I could actually install the system completely independently, and have it talk the whole way? The installer was friendly and not technically scary and asked me simple questions that even I could understand? Amazing.
While it was installing I browsed through the menu of software applications. An office suite, media player, internet browser, email program, and an easy, accessible means of configuring the system was what I found. All on the DVD and all free. Add to that I knew how to install new applications thanks to the documentation and I had everything I needed as far as I was concerned. Without a look back, I blew away my windows install, see ya, Microsoft. The installation finished and I rebooted. From then until now it has been mostly smooth sailing.
I won't say that I never had trouble I never went far from it. But this was mostly due to my inexperience with vinux; I kept trying to apply my windows skills to Linux and failing badly. I broke my system I don't know how many times, but thanks to the accessible installer I could install and be back up in as little as an hour or so, with all my configurations and customizations. I was and still am a constant presence on Vinux's IRC channel, where I ask lots of newbie questions and get lots of friendly help. There are lots of friendly folks on there willing to help if you're patient. The vinux community is spread out all over the world and consequently in different time zones so if people don't respond right away, just wait, they will.
I got better, very gradually, but still have a long way to go. I've tried other distros, just about all of them and always found something missing. If it wasn't the lack of accessibility out of the box, it was the friendly, non threatening supportive community. Believe me, being told to read long, complicated and sometimes cryptic man pages on an installation routine just to get the distro installed, and to just recompile from source code and add and remove various options gets old extremely quickly. The only exception to this was fedora, but I won't go into that here.
The point I was trying to make is that I’m a permanent vinux user. I may try other distributions but I’ll always come back to vinux. The community and mailing lists are helpful and friendly. And they're all focused on accessibility and the best ways to achieve it. That's something no other Linux distribution can claim. I'm happy to be a Vinux user and look forward to vinux becoming the best and most accessible operating system we can make it.
Barnaby has written an excellent review on his blog, as well as an install guide for Vinux.
Vinux is a specialist distribution remastered from a Ubuntu base and optimized specifically with visually impaired users in mind. Some others also come with a screen reader and other accessibility options by default, for example in the login screen, but these are never turned on from the start and voice recognition software is rarely if ever present.
Knoppix 'ADRIANE' edition is a version of the popular live distribution that has all these services turned on by default, but is booting into a text interface. While it works very well it seems to be aimed at users who lost all vision, not at users who are partially sighted to varying degrees. Using a custom environment, Vinux provides a graphical, high-contrast desktop with screenreaders (ORCA is turned on by default), full-screen magnifiers, a configuration that supports global font-size and color changing, and out of the box support for Braille displays.
Originally I set out to write this in March, but other releases happened and as I was waiting for feedback from users that never came it slowly slipped away. An ex-colleague of mine is a visual impairment worker in the Sensory Team of another borough, and she was going to offer it to some of her clients. Unfortunately inertia in this area affects people with disabilities just as much as the rest of us, and everybody in that community seems settled in with their main OS already, loathe to try anything new. Understandable, when they have invested a significant amount of time to train up their proprietary software and are happy with it. In particular, users who feel vulnerable probably do not wish to experiment and stay with what they feel has proven to work for them.
My name is Doug Smith. I have been a loyal Vinux user for the past two or three versions. I find Vinux really the best OS to use on both my ladyfriend's and my machines.
First of all, Vinux just works. I do not mind working with config files and trying to set things up the "right" way for me. That has always been fun for me.
Second of all, the choice between text and graphical mode is just great. I am writing this message with mutt in text mode and this is the way I like to use computers. It is what I was raised on. However, if I need to watch or present a video to a group, watch tv, have sighted help with pictures for some reason, or need current web technologies such as flash and others, I can just flip on over to graphical mode and do whatever I need to do. If some person or group, such as my National Federation of the Blind chapter, the director of this home I live in or someone else needs a document in a special format, I just do that in graphical mode although I wouldn't mind trying latex.
The number of tools already on the Vinux dvd + edition is absolutely outstanding among systems I have seen in the past. The fact that even more fun stuff and potent magic are just an install away makes it even better.
The National Federation of the Blind has recently started a project which allows the Blind to start up home-based businesses using ebay. In the near future, I plan to start up one of these businesses. What will it be? Glad you asked. I am going to start a consulting/custom software development service for Vinux. I hope to demonstrate it all around the country and let other people know about the best little treasure nobody over here has heard of.
At the state convention of the NFB this year, several people who had never heard of Vinux took down the web site address and said they wanted to try it. The phrase 0-cost access technology got them interested. I was reeling them in like catching fish at the VIP fishing tournament. I have not heard back from any of the people who wanted to try Vinux, but I told them I would soon be on the net with a service to assist them with Vinux in any way possible.
My ladyfriend loves Vinux as well. She took a few lessons from the state division of Services for the Blind. What did they use? Windows. I had no rescue disk for that system one day when her install tore up and I told her that I could fix her computer in a couple hours if she would let me put this new system on it. She has been a loyal Vinux user ever since.
The idea that one can have all that expensive proprietary functionality at the cost of the hardware only, is a new concept here in the
I have been using Vinux for a year and a half now. At first I was sort of opposed to using a distro specifically geared for blind users because I thought all distros should be completely accessible, but then I realized that this is the goal of the Vinux project.
From the first time I installed Vinux I was hooked. Everything just works, it comes up talking and continues to do so until you shutdown, administration tasks work, and it is, in the case of 3.0, very stable. This is not to say that the other versions aren't stable, but I have found that I prefer 3.0 over the others. One of Vinux's greatest features is the ability to get new apps and accessibility fixes in without all the hassle and red tape of most distros. Some accessibility fixes have been made for Vinux that are still not in other distros.
My name is Nimer Jaber, from Austin, TX and I am a full-time Vinux 3.2 user and have been for two years now. I got interested in Vinux because I was frustrated with the state of Linux accessibility, especially for users. Ubuntu was accessible enough, but admin apps needed work to be accessible, some of the apps found on the CD were not accessible, and the distro wasn't set up to work with speech.
Also, it was hard to convince others to check out Linux when I, a user of Ubuntu since 2005 was having problems getting some things to work.
So, when I found Vinux 1.2, I was excited to see that there was a project that aimed to make a version of Linux accessible to VI and blind users. I downloaded and tried out this distro, and found that it was extremely accessible. I joined the mailing list and began following blog posts by Mr. Anthony Sales, the project lead and main developer of Vinux at the time. As new users joined, I was able to help them out, and as new versions kept getting released, more and more was becoming accessible and easy to use, and more features were being added. I am currently one of the documentation team coordinators and lead of the testing team and as I get time, I continue to help out others with Vinux and introduce new users to Linux land and Vinux. What started out as a small project has grown in scope to be an international effort to keep Vinux, apps and documentation rolling.