Archive: CDROM Oralux (2003 - 2006)

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Genesis of the project

The Oralux project is born in Spring 2003 from a thread in the Carrefour BLinux list.

Anita Richaume wished to learn and use the GNU/Linux system. As some late blind users, she prefers the voice synthesizer to braille. But in her near neighbourhood, there are no Linux users to help her to install the operating system, the audio environment, the text-to-speech software, etc...


Oralux wants to offer a set of varied, modern and accessible softwares to a visually impaired person.

The CDROM is freely downloadable from

Each feature of the CD as the various softwares, their regular updates, and its cheapness comes from the work of a number of maintainers, developers, testers, translators,...

Why GNU/Linux ?

Mostly because of the Free Softwares.

The licence of e.g. Emacspeak authorizes us to read the source, eventually modify it and finally redistribute it. Without this kind of licence, Emacspeak could not speak French.


The user turns on his PC, which boots up the CD, the cock Oralux sings...

Then, the user selects his preferences using a vocal menu available in 5 languages.

Oralux 0.7 offers three desktops, based on Emacspeak, Yasr or Speakup, several multilanguages voice synthesizers, and is able to select a braille display or drive an external synthesizer.

We will detail this, below.

Live CD

Oralux is a Knoppix customization, based on Debian.

Knoppix already removes the installation barrier using its self-hardware detection and binary compression on a single CD.

On another hand, the regular releases and the important Knoppix and Debian users community brings us an excellent quality for our software basis.

The user sets up using the vocal menu the type of the keyboard, eventually the braille display and the voice synthesizer to drive. The menu is composed of pre-recorded messages built by the DECtalk software or by Multispeech.

The user can save his preferences on a floppy, the hard disk or a USB key.

User Interface

Today, the graphical user interface with windows, icons, menus, and mouse pointer is replaced by an "audio desktop".

Oralux 0.7 proposes three environments: Emacspeak, Yasr or Speakup.

In the future, the users will take benefit from the Gnome Accessibility Project.

Emacspeak is a powerful environment based on GNU/Emacs; however, its learning requires time and skill; moreover the documentation, mostly in English, is a little bit technical.

Yasr is a lightweight screen reader. We hope that it will help the newbie to start more easily. It runs a simple menu, which proposes a very few number of applications: the ne text editor (ne means Nice Editor), the links 2 web browser, etc...

Voice synthesizer

The voice synthesizer converts the text to speech.

A software voice synthesizer is a program which runs on the PC. The CD includes four of them:

Oralux can automatically install the DECtalk software from Fonix. Using this low-cost synthesizer, Oralux can speak English, French, German or Spanish.

Since release 0.6, Oralux can also drive an external synthesizer. They are generally plugged into the PC serial port.

The available drivers have been written for Emacspeak and concern for example, DECtalk Express, Dolphin Apollo, DoubleTalk LT,...


Oralux includes the braille drivers from the BRLTTY project.

These drivers are also in Knoppix thanks to a proposal from Nath.

Oralux team

Special thanks to Igor B. Poretsky.

The Oralux team is composed of:


The Oralux name and the logo have been created by Michel Schauving.

The project takes benefit from the contributions and suggestions received via the website or the mailing list.

Special thanks to the persons who contributed to the documents translation.

In particular:

Wished support

When Oralux will reach some level of usability (version 1.0 or 2.0), then the team hopes to rely on the concerned persons or organizations to help in demoing, and broadcasting the CD.