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Old 01-19-2003, 03:31 PM   #1
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Registered: Jan 2003
Location: the netherlands
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Blind pc user needs some help

hello, hopefully someone can help me with this rather annoying problem. I have been a Windows98 user for many years now and am finally switching my allegiance to Linux. Installing Mandrake 9.0 was easy enough with the assistance of my brother but after that is where my problem begins. As a blind pc user there are certain difficulties accessing the computer. I use a program from Dolphin Computer Access called Hal 4 ( and I have tried a lot more including microsofts own JAWS ) and its older brother Hal 5 but I cannot get them to work anything like properly on my IBM ThinkPad. I have found speech software for Linux Mandrake but unfortunatly both my brother and I are phased on actually how to install software on a Linux system. We have read all the files and letters but I think we need the very basic stuff explained to us. It strikes me that all Linux users have overcome this first hurdle. If you are able to assist us then I am sure Linux would get another two to add to its ranks.

many thanks

Old 01-19-2003, 04:26 PM   #2
LQ Guru
Registered: Mar 2002
Location: Salt Lake City, UT - USA
Distribution: Gentoo ; LFS ; Kubuntu
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(Hopefully you've got some command line knowledge..)
So the question is on how to install software on linux, well that's a doozy!

This really depends on how the software is packaged. There are files which are known as "tarballs" that usually end with the extension .tar.gz (In linux file extensions are pretty much worthless, but seem to follow a pattern for the most part). These files are tarballed together (.tar) and then compressed (.gz) so you'll need to untar and uncompress them. In the gui there are several tools to do this. I prefer ark as my gui choice. However, I usually run in command line, and here's how to untar/unzip a file in the command line:
tar xvzf filename.tar.gz

This will create a directory filename You will now need to "change directories" into this new directory with:
cd directoryname
To list the files/directories in any given directory use the command 'ls'

Now you are in the directory. There is usually an included README and INSTALL file with most packages. Go ahead and read them (or have them read to you rather) and follow the directions. Many times (but not always) there is a set of commands that can be typed to get these types of packages installed (if you don't wish to read the README and INSTALL files) it's:
make install
make install has to be run as the root user, this is the system admin that should only be used when installing software or making tweaks on the system, not to be used as the daily user. To switch to the root user use the command:
Then enter roots password.

Now other types of packages you may come across:

RPM's are packages that are [usually] precompiled and just need to be installed and have their dependencies taken care of. To install an RPM you can (in the gui) usually just double click it, or open up a package manager such as kpackage and install with that. The command line tool is:
rpm -ivh filename.rpm

BIN files:
filename.bin is as close as I've seen to something resembling a win installer file. You need to make it executable with:
chmod a+x filename.bin
And then execute it with:

These are VERY vague instructions, but hopefully will give you some idea on how to get the ball rolling per se. You may also want to check out the tutorial over at and also read up on a few of the links in my sig for more help. Also the search function on this site is amazing:
And also check out:

Good Luck linuxing, and Welcome to LQ



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