Free Software for MA

Susan Cragin susancragin at
Thu Jul 3 12:20:08 BST 2008

One reason I am trying to make Dragon NaturallySpeaking run on Windows through Wine. 

Although DNS is a complex program, we have had success at making the speech engine dictate text into Notepad and other simple programs running in Wine. (That helps most of the disabled population, because most can hit a few keys, they just can't enter text for long periods of time.)

The program also dictates into an application called DictationBox, which allows text to be dictated into a visible buffer and then transferred, via a couple of keystrokes, into any Linux program. The problem with this is that the buffer is temporary. You have to transfer within about 5 seconds, or the buffer vanishes and you lose your work. 

DNS 9.0 Preferred now enters text at the speed of sound (which on Hardy / Intrepid can be frustrating with an intel-hda soundcard).

I test and use it all the time. To promote its use on Linux, I have arranged to take a speed/accuracy test using it. The test is run by the licensing agency for court reporters, and will take place the last couple of days in July. Wish me luck.

In case you're wondering, Sphinx 2 is the fastest Linux engine developed so far, but it's not very good or very accurate, and there's no user interface. Sphinx 3 had a lot of work put into it but got slower and not much more accurate. Sphinx 4 (led by Sun) was supposed to run on Java. I haven't heard anything about it for years, but I know its not useable, and last I heard development had been abandoned.  

DNS is head-and-shoulders above ViaVoice. And the two programs are 
ten years ahead of anything else out there, even the speech rec programs for the iMac. All are based on development work done with DARPA grants in the 1980s and 90s. There were a few engines developed. One by Carnegie (Sphinx) a couple at a couple of other universities that didn't get that far (MIT, Mississippi and Oregon state universities) and a couple by others that do only discreet text -- one word at a time-- and have since morphed into those annoying engines that give you directory information. 
I was part of an effort to get the MIT code out on SourceForge a while ago. The code is open but as far as I know only its developer knows where it is. 

In any event, we're talking years away and millions of dollars, and programming that takes specialized training that's only available at a few universities. But the prospects for making DNS run better on Linux through Wine are there, and I think we should support them, even though DNS costs about $100. 

When Nuance thinks there is money to be made, they will probably contact Wine / Codeweavers about making a transition. I have asked them if there is any chance of a native Linux version, and they told me there was not. (Not for years anyway. Never say never.)


-----Original Message-----
>From: Yuriy Kozlov <yuriy.kozlov at>
>Sent: Jul 3, 2008 12:48 AM
>To: Danny Piccirillo <danny.piccirillo at>
>Cc: Susan Cragin <susancragin at>, ubuntu-us-ma at
>Subject: Re: Free Software for MA
>On Wed, Jul 2, 2008 at 6:45 PM, Danny Piccirillo
><danny.piccirillo at> wrote:
>> Really? Who did this discussion take place between? I didn't know it had
>> been considered at all.
>Danny, see
> for a good summary, at least with regards to ODF.
>~ Yuriy

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