Getting the Orca Screen-Reader to work under Plasma 5

In case some readers might not know, even though computing is heavily visual, certain advanced desktop-managers can be set up for impaired people to use – which also falls under the category of “Accessibility”. This includes the ability of the computer to speak a robotic description of what’s happening on the screen, in case a user can hear, but not see properly.

There are some users who feel they should stick with Windows, because Accessibility can be so hard to set up under Linux.

There are other users who are sorry they every clicked on “Accessibility”, because now they cannot turn it off.

If a visually-impaired user wants Accessibility set up on a Linux computer, I’d definitely suggest letting a trusted other person set it up, because until it’s set up, complicated things may need to be done, and accessibility will not be set up, so that the end-user will not benefit from Accessibility, while trying to set it up.

Some regular users find screen-readers trying for their patience, because of the fast, robotic voice, until they manage to shut it down again. Personally, I only find screen-readers trying, If I happen to have set one up late at night, because the voice could cause some sort of noise-complaint from my neighbors, droning on until I manage to disable it again. In the middle of the day, I don’t find these experiments trying.

I guess that a good question which some people might ask me, would be why I even do such an experiment, given that I’m not visually impaired and don’t need it. And what I do is set everything up until it works, and then disable it again.

On my recently-installed Debian / Stretch computer named ‘Plato’, which is also running Plasma 5 as its desktop-manager, I just did manage to get this feature to work, and then to disable it again.

(Updated 15h50, 1/17/2018 : )

The first thing I had to do, was install a long list of packages. The list below includes what was installed, but it should not really be necessary to give the command to the package-manager manually, to install everything here, because some of these packages will follow as dependencies from other packages. But here is a roundabout list:

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Simultaneous Update on Debian / Stretch Seems To Fix Wayland Bug, But An Effect Breaks.

This morning was one, on which most of my computers are receiving major system updates.

On the computer that acts as my Web-server, which I name ‘Phoenix’, this updated my Debian / Jessie version from 8.9 to 8.10.

On the computer which I most-recently installed, which I name ‘Plato’, this updated my Debian / Stretch version from 9.2 to 9.3 .

On both computers, this included a kernel-update. Additionally, it included an update, to the client-side X-server libraries. This posting has to do with the computer named ‘Plato’, which has kernel version ‘4.9.0-4-amd64′ now.

Previously I had blogged, that the computer named ‘Plato’ was suffering from a mysterious bug in its ‘Wayland’ compositor. If the compositing became suspended for any reason, after resuming, black rectangles would appear on the screen, as newly-opened windows faded in and out. This used to happen regardless of whether OpenGL 2 or OpenGL 3 compositing was being used.

Well since the update today, I tested the key-combination <Shift>+<Alt>+F12 again, which does the equivalent of sending the command to the compositor, to suspend. Apparently, the behavior of this key-combination has been changed since Debian / Jessie, so that instead of toggling, the compositing suspends for several seconds, and then automatically resumes. This would be useless as a user-feature, but can help with testing, because presumably, what an OpenGL application is supposed to do, is resend the signal every second or so, to make sure that compositing stays off.

To my pleasant surprise, I found that after compositing resumes, I no longer get black rectangles on the screen! :-)

Continue reading Simultaneous Update on Debian / Stretch Seems To Fix Wayland Bug, But An Effect Breaks.

There is a bug in the Wayland Compositor, under Debian Stretch.

One of the facts which I have written about before, is that modern desktop managers will use compositing – i.e. will use hardware-acceleration – to render desktop effects, specifically, when we are only running regular, 2D applications with a GUI. This feature exists with the old KDE 4, under Debian / Jessie, as well as with the new Plasma 5, under Debian / Stretch.

Under Debian / Jessie, this feature is extremely stable. Under Debian / Stretch, it is not yet so.

What will happen under Debian / Stretch, as far as I can make out, is that if an attempt has been made to disable compositing, instead of this succeeding, the desktop-session becomes corrupted, in that black rectangles will display, when we simply open multiple windows / dialogs. AFAICT, This can only be fixed, by rebooting / starting a new user-session.

I became aware of this, when running Steam-based games on the computer I name ‘Plato’. When games run that are heavy on OpenGL / Hardware-Rendering, it’s normal for the game-platform to try to switch compositing off, because often, the hardware-rendering of the game is not compatible with the desktop-compositing. After I have finished my session with Steam, the rendering errors in my desktop manager become noticeable, and Steam does not gain the permissions, to install any system software.

I do not blame this on Steam per se, because I can reproduce this problem by just clicking <Shift>+<Alt>+F12, which used to be the key-combination under KDE 4, that toggled desktop compositing on and off at will. Within seconds, under Plasma 5, this key-combination will also cause the malfunction.

(Updated 12/03/2017 : )

Now, there is a simplistic workaround for me:

 

Continue reading There is a bug in the Wayland Compositor, under Debian Stretch.