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2. Stage 1. DOS with speech

Most blind computer users have DOS or Windows, a speech synthesizer, and a screen reader program like JAWS [ JAWS]. (References in this format refer to entries in the "Footnotes and References" section below.) Using this setup, install and become familiar with some terminal emulator like Telix [ TELIX] or Commo [ COMMO], which are available from the SimTel archive [ SimTel] among others.

2.1 Getting Linux on CDROM

If you have or can borrow a CDROM drive, I recommend you get one of the many good distributions of Linux on that medium. The instructions below are for the Slackware distribution. I am most familiar with disks from Linux Central [ Linux Central]. Other sources are InfoMagic [ InfoMagic] and Walnut Creek [ Walnut Creek] (where the whole idea of inexpensive CDROMs full of programs from Internet archives got its start). Linux distributions are also available from Red Hat [ Red Hat], Craftwork [ Craftwork], and Yggdrasil [ Yggdrasil]. As a rule, these CDROMs use the "ISO 9660" format, which can be read under DOS. (They also use the "Rock Ridge extensions" which add extra files in each directory. Linux uses the extra information to give you long filenames, both upper and lower case characters in filenames, and file permissions.)

2.2 Getting Linux by FTP

Another way to get Linux and its documentation is by FTP over the Internet. The home site for the Slackware distribution is Walnut Creek [ Walnut Creek]. It is also carried by metalab (formerly known as sunsite) and many of it mirror sites. Here is a partial list:

More sites are listed in the INFO-SHEET:

http://metalab.unc.edu/pub/Linux/welcome.html ftp://metalab.unc.edu/pub/Linux/docs/HOWTO/INFO-SHEET ftp://uiarchive.cso.uiuc.edu/pub/systems/linux/sunsite/docs/HOWTO/INFO-SHEET

2.3 Linux Documentation

Read the Linux documentation. I will quote here the file names and locations on the first disk of InfoMagic's December 1996 "Developer's Resource" set of six CDROMs, as seen under DOS. Other CDROM sets should have similar information, though perhaps differently arranged. The Slackware distribution is on disk 2 of the set. Matt Welsh's step by step guide to installing Slackware is in \doc\install-\install-.002. (This is a 245 page book!)

More general information is in the Linux "Frequently Asked Questions" list in \docs\linux.faq\linux-fa.asc. Longer descriptions are in "HOWTO" documents (of which this is one). They are found in \docs. Note particularly \docs\hardware, which lists which kinds of hardware are supported by Linux, \docs\meta-faq, which points to sources of information (that is, a more extensive version of this paragraph), and \help\index, which is a list of the HOWTO documents with short descriptions. The Linux installation HOWTO, \docs\installation, is another (much shorter, somewhat older) version of Matt Welsh's installation instructions.

One note on reading the documentation. You may run into files with ASCII highlighting, where character-backspace-character stands for "bold", and underscore-backspace-character stands for "italics". One way to handle this is to use the less program, which displays these sequences in alternate colors. A DOS screenreader can, for example, search for such highlighted text. A DOS version of less can be obtained by FTP from the SimTel archive [ SimTel]. Within the SimTel collection, look for directory msdos/textutil. For example, try ftp://ftp.coast.net/pub/SimTel/msdos/textutil.

I will suggest four alternatives for learning Emacs commands (see section [ Learning Emacs]). The first option is to install Emacs under DOS and learn it while using the DOS screen reader. Where to get Emacs for DOS is a "frequently asked question" [ Emacs for DOS].

The source code for Emacs (about 10 MB) can be gotten from ftp://prep.ai.mit.edu/pub/gnu/ (look for emacs-19.34b.tar.gz or similar), or from one of many mirrors of the GNU collection [ Gnu Mirrors].

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