Wed, 10 Nov 2010

I've been messing about with emacspeak on an old laptop, originally as part of a plot to do without screens for a week, but now just to be kind of geeky. Here's a breakdown of what I ended up doing:

  1. Remove the graphical login
    The OS installed is Ubuntu Desktop 10.04. To disable the graphical login, I simply renamed /etc/init/gdm.conf to /etc/init/gdm.disabled.
    sudo mv /etc/init/gdm.conf /etc/init/gdm.disabled
    Then I proceeded with a fairly standard install of emacspeak, which needed a little bit of low-level tweaking (that I've now tragically forgotten about) to make it work.
  2. Remap the CapsLk key to be a Ctrl key
    On this system, the magical incantations appear to be in /etc/default/console-setup. I changed the settings here to include:
    file /etc/default/console-setup:
    and then redid the setup with:
    sudo dpkg-reconfigure -phigh console-setup
  3. Auto-start emacspeak on boot-up
    This one was a little tricky, but after some reading about autologins on the console, I came up with a solution with minimal impact. Firstly, I wrote a little shim to patch into getty:
    New file emacspeakzoe.c:
    #include <unistd.h>
    int main() {
      execlp("su", "zoe", "-c", "'emacspeak'", NULL);
    Compiled up with:
    cc -o emacspeakzoe emacspeakzoe.c
    and finally installed with:
    sudo cp emacspeakzoe /usr/local/sbin
    Then I modified upstart's /etc/init/tty1.conf to read:
    file /etc/init/tty1.conf:
    exec /sbin/getty -n -l /usr/local/sbin/emacspeakzoe 38400 tty1
    Took the machine down, brought it up again, and up it pops.

Now, all I need to do is make the time to really get stuck into using emacspeak for real...