This is a guide to installing the Ubuntu distribution of GNU/Linux and adding applications to make it usable as an audio-based desktop.

Installing UbuntuEdit

Installing Ubuntu Linux is a relatively easy process, please see the Ubuntu Homepage for more information. This guide uses Ubuntu 8.04 Desktop Edition, however it is very likely that other versions will also work.

Transitioning from an existing Windows installationEdit

This guide has only been tested on Windows Vista Business

As many users find it difficult to migrate immediately from Windows to Linux, it's highly recommended that you create a Virtual Machine with your existing Windows installation to assist in the process.

Please note: Many Windows Licenses, such as Vista OEM licenses, cannot be used in a virtual machine. This issue has been discussed on other websites, so please check whether you are able to move your license or legally allowed to use your license of windows this way.

Step 1: Prepare your Windows InstallationEdit

There are several steps that can be done here to ease Windows' migration into a virtual machine.

Step 2: Move your installation into a VMDKEdit

VMWare Converter can be used to turn a Windows partition into a VMDK virtual hard-drive.

Step 3: Run the VMDK in VirtualBoxEdit

VirtualBox can be installed by Synaptic Package Manager. See the VirtualBox website for more information. It is likely that you will have to run the Repair function on your Windows installation CD before windows will boot. If Windows still fails to boot, enable IO APIC in your VM's settings.

Installing EmacspeakEdit

Step 1: Download EmacspeakEdit

  1. Once you have booted Ubuntu and logged in, launch Synaptic Package manager, located in the System->Administration menu.
  2. Skip through the introduction, open the Settings -> Repositories menu, and make sure that "Community-maintained Open Source software (universe)" is checked.
  3. Close the Software Sources window and and click 'Reload'
  4. Click Search and enter "emacspeak", looking in description and name. You should see approx 4 search results.
  5. Right-click "emacspeak" and "eflite" and click "Mark for Installation"
  6. Click the Apply button and wait for it to download and install
  7. In the "Applying Changes" windows, open the "Details" panel and wait for it to stop processing, you should see a numbered list of different speech synthesizers and a "Number [7]:" prompt.
  8. If "eflite" is listed, enter its number and skip step 2, otherwise enter "a" to abort the configuration and continue until the "Changes Complete" window appears
  9. Close Synaptic Package Manager

Optional: Installing another speech serverEdit

While eflite is the easiest speech server to install for Emacspeak, it sounds very robotic and is a bit difficult to understand. Emacspeak can work with a number of other hardware and software speech synthesizers. For a while, IBM ViaVoice was the server of choice, but it is no longer available.


  1. First you must set up a build environment. Do one of the following options:
    • GUI Option: Repeat the Search/Mark for Installation process above for each of the following packages: build-essential, tcl8.3-dev, tclx8.3-dev, libtool, libespeak-dev
    • Terminal Option: After closing Synaptic Package Manager (it MUST be closed to do this) enter the following into a terminal:
      sudo apt-get install build-essential tcl8.3-dev tclx8.3-dev libtool libespeak-dev
      Enter your password if prompted and hit enter when prompted with Do you want to continue [Y/n]?.
  2. TODO: Complete


DECTalk is the speech synthesizer used by Stephen Hawking, so it must be good, right? It's not free, but a demo is apparently available somewhere on the internet

  1. TODO: Investigate

Step 2: Configure EmacspeakEdit

  1. Open a terminal (Applications->Accessories->Terminal) and type sudo emacspeakconfig, entering your password if prompted.
  2. Enter the number corresponding to eflite at the Number [7]: prompt.
  3. Press enter on all subsequent prompts to select the default values.

Step 3: Run EmacspeakEdit

  1. Open a terminal (Applications->Accessories->Terminal) and type emacspeak
  2. Once Emacs has loaded, you should hear a robotic voice introducing you to Emacs

Optional: Adding an icon for Emacspeak to your Applications menuEdit

Optional: Configuring Emacspeak to run at startupEdit