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What is Linux

Linux is the name usually given to any Unix-like computer operating system that uses the Linux 'kernel' (see below). (Source: wikipedia).

Linux is an operating system created by Linus Torvalds, at the University of Helsinki in Finland. In 1991 he released version 0.02 and in 1994, version 1.0 of the Linux Kernel. The kernel, at the heart of all Linux systems, is developed and released under the GNU General Public License and its source is freely available to everyone. It is this kernel that forms the base around which a Linux Operating System is developed. There are now literally hundreds of companies and organizations and an equal number of individuals that have released their own versions of operating systems based on the Linux kernel. (original article:

Linux is available in several formats, called distributions. Each of these has its own set of features and functionality that makes it unique -- some distributions are available for download at no charge, others are provided on CD or floppy disk and have a (usually) nominal charge associated with them. (original article:

Versions of Linux (list is not exhaustive):

Linux Desktops

  • Linux Mint

    Linux Mint was originally launched as a variant of Ubuntu with integrated media codecs. It has developed into a user-friendly distribution - complete with a custom desktop and menus, several unique configuration tools, a web-based package installation interface, and a number of different editions. This is a project where the developers and users are in constant interaction, resulting in dramatic, user-driven improvements with every new release.

    Installing Linux Mint

    Making adjustments in Linux Mint 7

    Offers an easy to understand desktop for your GNU/Linux or UNIX computer. It provides a desktop environment, an intuitive and attractive desktop for users, and the GNOME development platform, an extensive framework for building applications that integrate into the rest of the desktop.

    Gnome 2.22:
    Orca, GNOME's screenreading technology, has many improvements in v2.22. Close collaboration with Mozilla has led to excellent accessibility in Firefox 3, including support in Orca for Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) and Live Regions. This allows for much richer accessibility with today's modern, dynamic web applications. (Source:

    Orca in GNOME 2.22 also adds support for level 2 contracted braille. A lot of work has also gone into improving its quality and stability. Orca is a free, open source scriptable screen reader.

    The screen magnifier has been improved and can now take advantage of technology like X compositing to allow smoother scrolling and fullscreen scrolling on hardware that supports it. There is also improved support for colourblind filters.

    Using Gnome Speech to Text

    Gnome Desktop 2.14:
    Configuring the mouse:
    Using the keyboard to navigate the desktop:

  • KDE
    KDE or the K Desktop Environment, is a network transparent contemporary desktop environment for UNIX workstations. KDE seeks to fulfill the need for an easy to use desktop for UNIX workstations, similar to desktop environments found on Macintosh and Microsoft Windows operating systems.
    More information . . .

    Accessibility aids for KDE:KMouth, KMagnifier, KMouseTool.
    More information . . .

    KDE User guide . . . / KDE Customisation guide . . .

    Konqueror is KDE's next-generation web browser, file manager and document viewer. Widely heralded as a technological break-through for the GNU/Linux desktop, the standards-compliant Konqueror has a component-based architecture which combines the features and functionality of Internet Explorer/Netscape Communicator and Windows Explorer. Konqueror supports the full gamut of current Internet technologies, including JavaScript, Java, HTML 4.0, CSS-1 and -2 (Cascading Style Sheets), SSL (Secure Socket Layer for secure communications) and Netscape Communicator plug-ins (for playing Flash, RealAudio, RealVideo and similar technologies).
    More information . . .

  • Ubuntu
    A community developed, Linux-based operating system for laptops, desktops and servers. It contains all the applications you need - a web browser, presentation, document and spreadsheet software, instant messaging and much more.
    More information . . .

Link to an excellent factsheet all about Linux >


  • Linux - An alternative to Windows?
    The idea behind Linux – reliable software, available cheaply to everyone – is of course highly appealing. Linux is attracting a lot of interest from all kinds of people, from small voluntary sector organisations to major multinationals. (Read more of this article written by the: LASA systems team)

  • Configuring Linux for accessibility:

  • ORCA is a free, open source scriptable screen reader. Using various combinations of speech, braille, and magnification, Orca helps provide access to applications and toolkits that support the GNOME desktop. As of GNOME 2.16, Orca is a part of the GNOME platform. As a result, Orca is already provided by default on a number of operating system distributions, including Open Solaris, Fedora, and Ubuntu. Source:

  • Emacspeak. Open source screenreader.

  • Yasr is a general-purpose console screen reader for GNU/Linux and other Unix-like operating systems

  • Voxin is an easily installable add-on which provides yet another text-to-speech to blind users of GNU/Linux

  • Linux Accessibility 'How To . .'
    This covers the use of adaptive technologies that are available for the Linux operating system, as well as the software applications and hardware devices that can be installed to make Linux accessible to users with disabilities. The information provided targets specific groups of individuals with similar disabilities. (Source:

    Technologies for the visually impaired (screenreaders, magnifiers, braille):

    Technologies for the physically impaired (keyboard navigation, on-screen keyboard, speech recognition):

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