This page contains information and pointers to information concerning the use of Speakup under various distributions of GNU/Linux. It is a work in progress, as distributions are regularly adding support for Speakup.

List of Known Distributions with Speakup Support


William F. Acker and Janina Sajka maintain the Speakup Modified Fedora Distribution. See the website at for further information, including links to the latest release of the software. The maintainers provide an in-depth HOWTO document which describes the installation process. You can read the most recent version by following this link.


The official CDs of Debian Stable support hardware synthesizers via Speakup. The following information is heavily based on the Accessibility section of The Debian GNU/Linux Installation Guide. Please see that resource for the most up-to-date instructions.

When you boot the installation CD, the system will beep to indicate the presence of the boot menu. You won't hear the beep if you don't have a console speaker. Once the boot menu is present, select the "graphical installer" entry. You need to specify the hardware synthesizer that you are using. Press the tab key, and type a parameter of the form speakup.synth=X, where X is the name of the driver for your synthesizer. For instance, if you are using a DecTalk type speakup.synth=dectlk. Note that software speech is not currently supported by the Debian CDs. Press enter to boot. Since you indicated the use of Speakup, Debian will use the text-mode version of the installer, rather than the graphical version. The installer saves the choice of driver that you made at the boot menu. When you boot your fresh installation of Debian, Speakup will automatically provide spoken feedback using the synthesizer that you chose.


Slackware has included Speakup as part of its official releases for many years. If you have a hardware synthesizer, you can install this distribution without sighted assistance. The following description is courtesy of Steve Holmes.

Boot your machine using CD 1 from the set of Slackware CDs or CD images. Wait untill the drive stops spinning, and type the following:
speakup.s speakup.synth=??????
where ?????? is the keyword for your synthesizer driver. See the Speakup User's Guide for a list of these keywords. For instance, if you use the Speakout device, type
speakup.s speakup.synth=spkout
You should hear spoken output as the boot process finishes. Follow the official installation procedure, as described in Slackware's documentation.

Note: software speech is not currently available when booting from the CD, so it cannot be used during installation.


Grml is a live CD that is based on Debian. It will provide spoken output when various parameters are given at the boot prompt. One can also install Grml to the hard drive by means of the grml2hd script, so it can function as either a live CD or a full-fledged distribution. See the Grml home page for more information. Michael Whapples created a podcast for Blind Cool Tech which demonstrates Grml. Click here to listen to it.


If you use the ArchLinux distribution, a recent package of Speakup is available from the ArchLinux mirrors. Speakup and related packages are part of the "community" repository, meaning that they are maintained by a trusted member of the ArchLinux community. As such, they are not officially part of the distribution. One may install ArchLinux using Speakup. Please read the talking ArchLinux information page if interested. Michael Whapples recorded a couple of Archlinux installation guides for the blind Archlinux and Archlinux installation from GRML if you are interested check them out.


Vinux is a remastered version of the popular Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx distribution, optimised for the needs of blind and partially sighted users. By default it provides three screen-readers, two full-screen magnifiers, global font-size and colour changing facilities as well as support for USB Braille displays. Speakup is one of those three screen-readers. For more information about Vinux, visit the Vinux homepage.
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This file last modified on: Thursday, 18-Nov-2010 17:21:01 EST