Build Orca on Ubuntu 12.04

Cameron Wong hgneng at
Tue May 14 15:12:08 UTC 2013


I am trying to make Linux accessible for Chinese blind users. I have
developed Ekho Chinese TTS ( which works
fine with Orca on Ubuntu 12.04. (Let me know if someone would like to help
to put it into Ubuntu's repository). Now I want to implement an ibus input
method plugin to Orca. Without the ability of reading input method, Linux
is not quite accessible to east Asian blind users.

I know few about Orca. All starts from building the source code. I get the
source code of version 3.4.1 with following command.
$ apt-get source gnome-orca
$ ./configure

To my surprise, the dependency doesn't meets. Not because some packages are
missing but the version is not high enough. Can someone explain why source
code from apt-get depends on some packages newer than current system?

To make orca be able to build, I make and install following packages:
* gnome-common, libgdk-pixbuf2.0-dev, libcairo2-dev, libpango1.0-dev,
libatk1.0-dev, libxext-dev, libxi-dev, python-dev, libgirepository1.0-dev,
python-cairo-dev, libatspi2.0-dev
* GTK 3.1.92 (
* PyObject 3.0.4 (

I choose GTK 3.1.92 and PyObject 3.0.4 because I think they are the most
closest version to Ubuntu 12.04 that can meet orca's build dependency.

The look-and-feel of desktop windows/widgets has changed now.

Now I can build and install orca. All commands I use to build from source
are `./configure && make && make install`. So they are installed in

When I run `orca` in terminal, it complains:
Contraction tables for liblouis cannot be found.
This usually means orca was built before
liblouis was installed. Contracted braille will
not be available.
Cannot start Orca because it cannot connect
to the Desktop.  Please make sure the DISPLAY
environment variable has been set.

I try to re-install gnome-orca and run `/usr/bin/orca`. It complains:
Cannot start Orca because it cannot connect
to the Desktop.  Please make sure the DISPLAY
environment variable has been set.
gnome-orca works fine before I installed packages like GTK, PyObject above.

I have search the error message in this mail list. Someone said orca cannot
be run in terminal. It should not be true because I've done it before. Run
it in ALT+F2 doesn't help.

Can anyone help to fix the DISPLAY issue?

It would be really appreciate if someone can give suggestion how to
implement a ibus input method plugin to Orca!

Thanks a lot!

Cameron Wong
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