Fedora, trying again

About a week ago, I got a new laptop. It's an HP, with an AMD 5500 processor. With 8 gigs of RAM, 512 GB SSD storage, and a modern processor, I think it'll last a good while. I do hope I can swap out the RAM for two 8 GB sticks instead of 4 GB sticks.

After using Windows 11 for a while, I got the Linux itch again. Windows was... slower than I expected. Along with some games being more frustrating than fun, I decided to just do it.

So I installed Fedora. I chose the Fedora 35 Mate spin for this. Well, first I tried the regular Gnome version but Orca couldn't read the installer so that's great. After getting it installed, turning on Orca at the login screen, and the desktop, setting Orca to start after login always, and turning on assistive technology support, I was ready to go. Except...

Bumps in the Road

I mainly use Google Chrome for browsing. After getting that installed, I opened it, prepared to sync my stuff and get to browsing. But upon its opening, there was nothing there. Orca read absolutely nothing. Baffled, I installed VS Code. Still the same, nothing.

So, I hunted down the accessibility cheat codes I used to magically make things work:

export GTK_MODULES=gail:atk-bridge


After restarting the computer, things worked. I could use Chrome and VS Code. Then, I set up Emacs with Emacspeak. After a lot of looking around, I discovered I need lots of ALSA stuff, like alsa-utils, and mplayer, sox, and all that sound stuff. Oh and replace serve-auditory-icons with play-auditory-icons so all icons play.

It was during my setup of Emacs that I found one of the joys of Linux, dotfiles. I copied the .emacs files from my ChromeBook to the new Linux PC, and it was like I'd just simply opened the Emacs on my ChromeBook. Everything was there. My plugins, settings, even my open files were there.

Linux is really snappy. Like, I can open the run dialog, type google for google-chrome, press Enter, and there's Chrome, ready almost before I am. Pressing keys yields instant results, even faster than Windows.

Nothing's Perfect

Even with all this: fast computing, Emacs, updated system, freedom to learn about computing, there are some rough edges. If you close a Chrome-based app, like VS Code and such, you have to move to the desktop immediately, or Orca will get stuck on nothing. If that happens, you have to press Insert + h for help, then F2 to bring up any kind of dialog for Orca to get onto. Seems Mate's Window manager doesn't put focus on the next window. Also the top panel on Mate has lots of unlabeled items. And there are very few accessible games natively for Linux, but with Audiogame Manager, there are plenty of Windows games I can play.

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Devin Prater @devinprater