Looking for a Digital Home

This is going to be a more emotional post, which mirrors my mental state as of now. I just have to write this down somewhere, and my blog should be a good place to put it. It may also be helpful for others who struggle with this.

I've used just about every operating system out there, from Windows to Mac to Linux, ChromeOS, and Android and iOS. I've still not found one I can be completely happy with. I know, I may never find an OS that fits me perfectly, but so many others have found Linux to be all they ever need. I wish I could find that. Feel that feeling of not needing to switch to another laptop just to use a good Terminal with a screen reader that will always read output, or the ability to use Linux GUI apps, like GPodder or Emacs with Emacspeak.

There are times when Windows is great. Reading on the web, games, and programs that were made by blind people to help with Twitter, telegram, Braille embossing, and countless screen reader scripts. Other times, I want a power-user setting. I want GPodder for podcasts, or to explore Linux command-line apps. I asked the Microsoft accessibility folks about Linux GUI accessibility, and they just said to use Orca. I've never gotten Orca to run reliably on WSL2. It's always been reliable on ChromeOS with Crostini.

Whenever I get enough money, I'll get 16 GB RAM, so maybe I can run a Linux VM. But still, that's not bare metal. And if I switch to Linux, I would have to run a Windows VM, for the few things that run better on Windows, like some games, and probably the Telegram and Twitter support. It's all just kind of hard to have both. Dual booting may work, but I've also heard that Windows gets greedy and messes with the bootloader.

But, with there being a blind person working on Linux accessibility at Red hat, I hope that, soon, I won't need Windows anymore. I can hope, at least. But with there still being a few who have the mindset that I must fix everything myself, I must still remain cautious, and unexcited about this development among the hardcore Linux community, lest the little amount of joy a full-time Linux accessibility person being hired gives me, is taken away by their inflexibility and cold, overly-logical mindset.

But, I'm not done yet. With the little energy taking vitamins has given me, I've made a community for FOSS accessibility people on Matrix, bridged to IRC. I continue to study books on Linux, although I've not gotten up the energy to continue learning to program and practice. Maybe I'll try that today.

Mostly, I don't want newcomers to Linux to feel as alone in their wrestling with all this as I do. All other blind people are already so far ahead. Running Arch Linux, able to code, or at least happy with what they have and use. I don't want future technically inclined blind people to feel so alone. Kids who are just learning to code, who are just getting into GitHub, who are just now learning about open source. And they're like “so what about a whole open source operating system?”

And then they look, find Linux, and find so few resources for it for them. Nothing that they can identify with. Well shoot, there it is. Documentation I guess. I do want to wait until Linux, and Gnome or whatever we ultimately land on, is better. Marco (in Mate), shouldn't be confused whenever a QT or Elektron-based app closes and focus is left out in space somewhere. An update shouldn't break Elektron apps' ability to show a web view to Orca. And we definitely shouldn't be teaching kids a programming language, Quorum, made pretty much specifically for blind people. But I'm glad we're progressing. Slowly, yes, but it's happening at least.


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Devin Prater @devinprater