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Revision as of 13:37, 6 February 2014 by Kyle (talk | contribs) (Installing from the CD: copy the asound.conf into the installed system. Also enable Espeakup and store sound card states from within the chroot.)
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This page describes a bootable CD / USB image customized for blind users. The modified version is mostly equivalent to the official "netinstall CD", but the system should start speaking as soon as you boot with it. Speech is provided via the sound card, using the eSpeak software synthesizer and the Speakup screenreader. It is also possible to use a braille display, via brltty. You can obtain the image from this page.

The image can be used with both the i686 and the x86_64 architecture. Also, it is suitable for either a recordable CD or a USB stick. Just download it and write it to the medium of your choice.

A detached GPG signature is provided on the download page. The signature for the current iso build is made with the gpg key associated with the address kyle at gmx dot ca with ID CD915EAD and fingerprint 1E14 FA26 0F57 7600 7047 9320 0DD7 721A DC85 709B, and the key associated with the address kprescott at coolip dot net with ID 75689861 and fingerprint C6A7 7B5C 1989 9997 DF34 196E BE8F DD31 7568 9861. These keys can be found on your favorite OpenPGP-compatible keyserver.


The build system, which is a respin of the Archiso releng configuration, is maintained by Kelly Prescott and by Kyle, and the images and main website are hosted by Kyle. Thanks to Chris Brannon, the past maintainer, and to the following people for submitting valuable feedback regarding this project: Chuck Hallenbeck, Julien Claassen, Alastair Irving, Tyler Spivey, Keith Hinton, and many others. Thanks also go to Tyler Littlefield, who previously hosted the files.

Installing from the CD

The following list of steps is a brief guide to installing Arch Linux using this CD. The instructions assume that your root partition will be mounted on /mnt.

  1. This is a dual-architecture .iso file. You can just press enter at the boot prompt, or wait for the bootloader to time-out. Your processor should be automatically detected, and the appropriate architecture should be loaded automatically. If you have a console speaker, you will hear a beep when the boot prompt is on screen. Otherwise, wait about 10 to 20 seconds after the CD starts spinning, or about 3 to 5 seconds after the system begins to boot from USB, and then press enter to boot the image.
  2. You are strongly encouraged to read the Arch Linux documentation, especially the Installation Guide and Beginners Guide. Do the installation procedure described in the Installation Guide, as modified by the instructions below.
  3. You'll need to install the espeakup and alsa-utils packages. The Installation Guide mentions that you can install additional packages by appending their names to the packstrap command. For example, pacstrap /mnt base espeakup alsa-utils
  4. Copy the machine-specific ALSA configuration file that was generated at boot time by executing cp /etc/asound.conf /mnt/etc
  5. While in the arch-chroot, Enable the espeakup systemd service by executing systemctl enable espeakup.service
  6. You also need to save the state of the sound card, so that it will be retrieved on reboot. Execute the command alsactl store from inside of the arch-chroot.
  7. When you boot the system from the hard disk, it should start speaking.

Braille Support

The latest image includes brltty, for those who own braille displays. The brltty package available on the CD was compiled with as few dependencies as possible. It is packaged as brltty-minimal in the Arch User Repository. If you wish to use braille, you will need to supply the brltty parameter at the boot prompt. Alternatively, you can start brltty from the shell, after the system has booted.

The brltty boot-time parameter consists of three comma-separated fields: driver, device, and table. The first is the driver for your display, the second is the name of the device file, and the third is a relative path to a translation table. You can use "auto" to specify that the driver should be automatically detected. I encourage you to read the brltty documentation for a fuller explanation of the program.

For example, suppose that you have a device connected to /dev/ttyS0, the first serial port. You wish to use the US English text table, and the driver should be automatically detected. Here is what you should type at the boot prompt:

arch32 brltty=auto,ttyS0,en_US

Once brltty is running, you may wish to disable speech. You can do so via the "print screen" key, also known as sysrq. On my qwerty keyboard, that key is located directly above the insert key, between F12 and scroll lock.

Maintaining Your Speech-enabled Arch Linux Installation

You shouldn't need to do anything extraordinary to maintain the installation. Everything should just seamlessly work.

Mastering Speech-enabled ISO Images

This process is now fairly straightforward. Just grab and install the talkingarch-git package from the AUR. It depends on archiso-git, so you need that as well. See /usr/share/doc/talkingarch/README for full instructions.

Further Resources

TalkingArch now has an IRC channel at #talkingarch on Feel free to drop in and talk to the maintainers or anyone else in the channel. You may also reach the maintainers by e-mail at support [at] talkingarch [dot] tk.


This is not an official release. It is not endorsed by anyone other than its maintainers. It is provided solely for the convenience of blind and visually impaired users, and it comes with absolutely no warranty.