How's Karmic these days?

Anthony Sales tony.sales at
Thu Oct 22 20:12:41 BST 2009

Hi everyone, I think everyone appreciates what Willie and Luke are doing, without them LInux would be a whole lot less accessible and they are doing a great job in the circumstances. However they are up against the same problem as every other VI user, in that although companies acknowledge the need for accessibility it isn't very high on their priorities list and this is reflected on the fact that Luke and Willie seem to be the only people who are allowed to work on these projects by their employers. If they were serious their would be a team of people working on accessibility, and it wouldn't be an afterthought but a fundamental element of all applications. The reality is that the VI are but one minority group amongst many, they aren't a big enough user group to generate billions of dollars, and thus they are catered for by smaller companies who can charge an arm and a leg for software many people can't survive without. I think mainstream Linux accessibility will gradually get better, but just like with Windows, it will always be an afterthought or add on, it is unlikely that any major distributer will produce a fully accessible OS optimised for the VI. This is why I started making Vinux, and I don't want to start any new arguments about mainstream v specialist accesibility software, but just imagine if Willie and Luke where actually working on an Orca distro rather than on the software itself, instead of trying to get it to work with Ubuntu's latest cutting edge technology. Then they would be able to make whatever changes were necessary to get the system fully accessible and include all the best accessible software. That is what I am trying to do with Vinux, but I simply don't have the technical skills and knowledge that Luke and Willie have, and like me they have to earn a living and it isn't likely to come from producing open-source accessibility software unless a government or large charity get involved. I still think it would be great if all of the developers interested in VI issues could pool their resources into one distro to rule them all, and this is not an attempt to devalue their work, what they are doing is great, but I sometimes feel that we are all swimming against the tide of the needs of the sighted majority and we are always going to be little fish. Keep up the good work, I am following in your wake, and without the work you do the Vinux project would not have been possible at all!


From: ubuntu-accessibility-bounces at [ubuntu-accessibility-bounces at] On Behalf Of Willie Walker [William.Walker at Sun.COM]
Sent: 22 October 2009 19:26
To: Bill Cox
Cc: ubuntu-accessibility at
Subject: Re: How's Karmic these days?

Hi All:

 From a stability standpoint, I can share what I'm planning for GNOME
2.30, which I suspect is likely to be what Lucid Lynx will be based upon.

The main goal for GNOME 2.30 (which you'll see developed via the GNOME
2.29.x development releases) is that we're retooling the entire
accessibility infrastructure to shed the Bonobo/CORBA dependency.  This
includes the AT-SPI infrastructure, speech, and magnification:

At the same time, we have some big technologies coming down the pipe
that will need accessibility support: WebKit and GNOME Shell.  GDM 2.28
also has some accessibility issues that need addressing.  It's a lot of
work and we're going to do our best to make sure the changes are
positive changes for GNOME 2.30.  But, there will be instability for a
period of time during the GNOME 2.29 development cycle.

So...what this means is that I am going to keep Orca development down to
a minimum during the 2.29.x/2.30 cycle.  I plan only to fix high
priority bugs in Orca and will work to make sure these bug fixes are
backported to GNOME 2.28.

For the near future, people needing stability should stick with GNOME
2.28 and Karmic.  While Karmic may have some issues now, I think the
users on this list need to get behind it, test it, and get constructive
feedback and patches back to the Ubuntu team.

BTW, I fully sympathize with Luke -- I've been doing a11y work for
nearly 20 years and you are constantly between a rock and a hard place.
  Some of the users constantly spit and yell at you and your bosses keep
stripping you down to barely enough to survive.  The one thing that
keeps you going are the successes of users where the difference between
having the solution and not having the solution can mean having a job or
not having a job, being able to communicate with others or not being
able to communicate with others, etc.

(GNOME Accessibility Lead)

Bill Cox wrote:
> Hi, Luke.
> Thanks for working on accessibility.  I feel really rotten about
> complaining about the bugs without putting in effort into debugging.
> However, my boss is all over me at the moment to get another project
> back on schedule.  I'm sure you know what that's like.
> However, over the next year, I promise to find some time to nail a bug
> or two, like the crash in speech dispatcher.  In the meantime, we
> should probably set expectations for users, and let them know it will
> be a while before Orca is working in a stable manner in the latest
> Ubuntu.  It's an unfortunate situation, but blind users are simply not
> able to chip in and fix things when accessibility is broken, so it
> will be up to the very few of us interested in accessibility who still
> have decent vision to pull it off.
> Best regards,
> Bill
> On Wed, Oct 21, 2009 at 5:59 PM, Luke Yelavich <themuso at> wrote:
>> On Thu, Oct 22, 2009 at 08:46:26AM EST, Bill Cox wrote:
>>> Sorry guys, I know there's some of you out there who actually work on
>>> Ubuntu accessibility, but the current state sucks.  I certainly hope
>>> Ubuntu decides at some point to make accessibility a priority.
>> I can understand why, as a user, you feel that way. Unfortunately I am the only one so far as I know of, actively working on improving Ubuntu's accessibility, and while I do as much as I can to make things work as well as they can, I have other matters that I need to attend to, due to working for Canonical and being responsible for other parts of the desktop as well, so I can only do so much in the time I allocate for accessibility work.
>> Unfortunately the speech-dispatcher crasher is at the moment, somewhat beyond my current skills to debug, although learning valgrind will likely help me get better with sed debugging, and hopefully get rid of the speech-dispatcher crash.
>> So if you really want Ubuntu's accessibility to get better, I urge you to consider helping out in whatever way you can, even if its only filing and triaging bugs, thats something. The more bugs that are in a triaged state, the less work I have to do, and the more bugs I can attempt to fix.
>> I hope you all understand, and will do what you can to help.
>> Regards
>> Luke
>> --
>> Ubuntu-accessibility mailing list
>> Ubuntu-accessibility at

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