• Tip Jar

Commanding the Command Line (Part 2)

This is part two of a discussion of accomplishing your hearts desire with out the use of a GUI. It’s back to the console for us as we dive in to such fun things as web browsing, instant messaging, and text editing.

Instant Messaging with Finch

Pidgin and Finch are closely connected. finch is the command line version of Pidgin. So, the way I handle setting up accounts is with Pidgin. Then, in the console launch by typing finch. The first time you run it you will be presented with the accounts list. Use highlight tracking in Speakup because it works better with Finch. Press space on each account you want activated. Move through them with the up and down arrow keys. When you activate an account it will say X to show that it is checked. When you have activated all of your accounts, press alt+a to be taken in to a menu with items like buddy list, plugins, sounds, etc. Select the sound option and tab until you find the first sound option, probably "Someone says your name in chat". Press space to check each item for which you would like to have sound. Use the up and down arrows to navigate the list. After selecting the sounds you want, press alt+a to get back to the menu. I must say that I have never successfully gotten sounds to work in Finch but I know people who have, so it’s just my problem apparently. Select Plugins and check the plugins you would like to activate. Most of the plugins that work in Pidgin also work in Finch. This is a good time to mention my favorite sets of plugins. Some of these only work with Pidgin, but I will include them anyway. Pidgin-musictracker displays your currently playing track in Pidgin. Pidgin-plugin-pack, lots and lots of useful plugins. Pidgin-mbpurple, adds Twitter and a couple of other things to Pidgin. To get them all:
sudo apt-get install pidgin-plugin-pack pidgin-musictracker pidgin-mbpurple
When you have the plugins configured the way you want them, press alt+a to get back to the menu. If you are not on your list of groups that contain your contacts, press tab until you get to it. Only buddies who are on-line will show up. To expand a group press space and to close it press space again on the group title. If you press f10 you will get another menu with things like add buddy in it. If you would like to turn off time stamps, while chatting with someone press f10 and press enter on show time stamps. To exit Finch press alt+q.

Web Browsing with Elinks

To get elinks, in Ubuntu, type:
sudo apt-get install elinks
When you first install Elinks, it takes some configuring to get it working optimally with Speakup or any other console screen reader. To launch it type:
If it is the first time you will get a welcome message. Press enter to go to the next screen. Here it will ask for a URL. Press escape to get into its menus. In Speakup, it is a good idea to turn on highlight tracking if you haven’t already. Press right arrow to get to the Setup menu, then down to Options Manager and press space to activate it

Numbered Links

Move down to Document and press space to activate it then down to browsing and press space again. Go down to links and press space. Move down through the menu until you find Numbered Links and press tab until you get to Edit then press enter. For some reason these selections do not read exactly right. when I was on the Edit option, for example, it said "Info Edit". Press backspace to remove the 0 and type the number 1 in its place and press enter. Now links on pages will be numbered. To activate a numbered link type its number and press enter then enter again to activate it.

Turn Off Frames

Press down arrow until you get to Html Rendering and press space. Go down to Show Frames and tab to the Edit option and press enter. Change the 1 to 0 and press enter.

Remember to Save

When you have finished setting options, be sure to save. Tab until you get to the save option and press enter. In this case, Speakup read it as "Search Save". You will know you did it right if you get a message about the configuration being written successfully.

Tips and Tricks

You can launch elinks with an address so when it opens you will go directly to a web page instead of having to type in the address. for example:
elinks http://www.stormdragon.tk/
elinks stormdragon.tk
To enter a new URL press g. If you would like to be able to copy the current URL, press shift G. You can use screen’s excellent copy feature to get the current address.

Email with Alpine

To get Alpine, in Ubuntu, type:
sudo apt-get install alpine
To launch Alpine type:
the first time it runs it will create a mail folder and show you a welcome message. Press enter to get to the main menu, then s for setup and c for configure. If you want to use Alpine with your gmail account, there is an excellent guide that shows you how. If you get imap errors when trying to retrieve your email, open the .pinerc file and search for the line that reads:
Remove any extra characters after the right brace } and save the file. It should now work correctly. Alpine works very well with Speakup and the menus are clear and not difficult to follow.

Speakup Revisited

Linux distros using kernel 2.6.35 and higher have speakup already built in, so there is no need to install it. You still will need to configure a synthesizer for it and other information in this article may be useful too.
In Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic and later, the way speakup is installed has changed. You can still build it from source if you want, but now it is included in the repository. Here are the instructions for installing it. In terminal type:
sudo apt-get install speakup-source espeakup
After the packages have finished installing type the following:
sudo m-a a-i speakup-source
You may also want to install the speakup-tools package. To get it type:
sudo apt-get install speakup-tools
The method used to get speakup to start automatically has not changed. Just type:
sudo gedit /etc/modules
Move down to the end of the file and on a blank line add the following:
speakup_soft start=1
From then on, when you start your computer speakup will be running. The espeakup program also starts so you will have speech. You may want to change the voice to your language. To do so, in terminal type:
sudo gedit /etc/default/espeakup
Add your chosen voice to the end of the line that reads VOICE= like so:
Now, it will speak your language.
Finally, the way you adjust speakup’s settings has changed slightly. From speaking with users of other distributions than Ubuntu, I have learned this is the way most if not all the rest of them were doing it. Here is an example of turning off key echo:
sudo echo 0 > /sys/accessibility/speakup/key_echo
To turn it back on change the 0 to a 1. For a list of things that can be changed type:
ls /sys/accessibility/speakup/
You can add the command to /etc/init.d/rc.local to have it automatically happen at start-up. To save all of your speakup settings, if you have the speakup-tools package installed, type:
speakupconf save
when you have everything set the way you want it. To get it to load at startup add the line:
speakupconf load
to the end of your ~/.bashrc file.
As said in the beginning of this article, this applies to Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic and possibly new versions of Ubuntu. If you are using an older version the following link will be more helpful:

Installing Speakup in Ubuntu

I was told that speakup isn’t as difficult to install any more because you don’t have to recompile the kernel any more, So, I thought I would give it a go. It took a few minutes, but over all, it was very easy to get it up and running. If you too would like to install speakup, here are the instructions. Thanks goes to Paul Hunt for helping with the instructions. This was done an a Dell Studio 1536 running Ubuntu Intrepid.
First, we need to install the git-core package. In a terminal, type:
sudo apt-get install git-core
After that package is installed, get the speakup packages with this command:
git clone http://www.linux-speakup.org/speakup.git
This one takes a while, so play a game or something, but keep checking back on it. It will finish eventually. After that happens, it is time to compile and install. To do this, type:
cd speakup/src
sudo make modules_install
After the above three commands have completed, you need to move some files around because they aren’t installed in the right place. Enter the following commands:
cd /lib/modules/`uname -r`/extra/speakup
sudo cp * ..
Once that has been done, activate by typing:
sudo depmod -a
Now everything should be ready. So to start the module, type:
sudo modprobe speakup_soft start=1
So that you don’t have to type the above line every time your computer is restarted, do the following:
sudo vi /etc/modules
This will open the vim text editor. Press the escape key to make sure you are in command mode. Use down arrow to move to the bottom of the file. Once there, press shift A to get in to append mode. Type the following line exactly as it is here:
speakup_soft start=1
Press the escape key to get back in to command mode. Then type the following to save and exit vim:
Once you press enter the file will be saved. To get espeak working with speakup, do the following:
cd ~/speakup/contrib
unzip espeakup with the following:
bunzip2 espeakup-0.60.tar.bz2
tar xvf espeakup-0.60.tar
then install:
sudo make install
Launch it with:
sudo espeakup –default-voice voice name
So, for US English, the command would be:
sudo espeakup –default-voice en-us
You can add espeakup to /etc/init.d/rc.local, so you won’t need to launch espeakup every time your system is restarted. Place the line at the very end of the file.
You can not use speakup with plain old gnome-terminal. You need to open a text console. You can do this with control+alt+f1 through f6. You can get back to your normal desktop with control+alt+f7. when you bring up the text console you will need to log in with your user name and password. You can read the speakup manual in the ~/speakup/doc directory. For those of us who don’t like using key echo, you can disable it. You need to be root to make this change, so type:
sudo su – root
then, to disable it, type:
echo 0 > /sys/module/speakup/parameters/key_echo
after that is done, type exit to logout from the root account. To do this automatically, add it to /etc/init.d/rc.local. There are other parameters you can change as well such as volume and rate. In the above command change the number 0 to 9 and key_echo to rate to set the voice rate.
echo 9 > /sys/module/speakup/parameters/rate
That’s about it, have fun. Remember, when you find a setting you like, just add it in to the end of /etc/init.d/rc.local to make it happen at startup.

  • Tip Jar