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Two Totally Inaccessible Business Accounts Packages

Today I tried installing two different accounts packages. I have a need for an easy to use yet powerful accounting system to administer some business accounts.

I tried:

  • gnucash
  • openbooks


Totally silent. Totally inaccessible under Linux, running on Debian 8.0 and using the latest stable version of Orca.

Purged it right away. USELESS.


Totally inaccessible and repeatedly crashed Orca.

Purged immediately. USELESS.

Back to the drawing board.

I am NOT going to put my accounts in the cloud where nosey people can look at them. And I am not going to pay for accounting software for Windows which may or may not do what I want to do and be 100% accessible.

Linux STILL lacks a fast, RAD database solution to match something like MS Access.

Nikola plugins

I have installed a couple of plugins to help with Nikola page and post authoring.

These plugins are:

  • orgmode
  • txt2tags

The orgmode Plugin

The orgmode plugin uses Emacs in batch mode to provide a means of authoring Nikola posts and stories in .org files for conversion into HTML.

To install it:

nikola plugin -i orgmode

You will get a directory under your Nikola site:


In this directory there are a number of files.

Providing you have version 8.0 or above of Emacs orgmode installed you will not need to do anything with the init.el file.

Pay careful attention to the file and add the code-fragments to the COMPILERS =, POSTS = and PAGES = entries in your

Once that is working correctly then:

nikola new_post -f orgmode -t "post title"

Should create a file in your ./posts directory which you can edit using Emacs or Emacspeak and get all the benefits of orgmode power.

The txt2tags Plugin

For this, first you will have to install txt2tags. On Debian or Ubuntu you can do this like this:

sudo apt-get install txt2tags

Now install the Nikola plugin:

nikola plugin -i txt2tags

Again you will need to edit your file and change the POSTS =, PAGES = andCOMPILERS =` entries.

You can see how to by looking at values for other file types.

Now doing this:

nikola new_post -f txt2tags -t "post title"

Will give you a post-title.t2t file in your posts directory.

Why did I install txt2tags?

Because one of the great things txt2tags does that markdown does not is tables. And another great thing, and what made me install it, is the ability to give include directives in txt2tags files.

If you put this string in your .t2t file:

%!include: filename.t2t

When the page is rendered, the file willbe included. It does not have to be a .t2t file that is included. But the parent file will be rendered with the txt2tags compiler.

It was using the txt2tags plugin and syntax that I created the pages that show tables of reference data such as markdown-mode commands for Emacs. By including files in txt2tags syntax that are converted to HTML tables on the fly.

Why not just embed the files? Well this way I can use all kinds of jiggery-pokery including sed and grep commands to generate the .t2t table files from Emacs key-bindings harvested automatically.

Very neat.

Emacs markdown-mode

Emacs (and hence Emacspeak) has an extension for writing and manipulating markdown files. I use markdown for writing the posts and pages for this site and others.

Nikola can be used with a number of different document compilers, that is, programs or plugins that can take documents authored in one kind of plain-text mark-up and convert it to another.

One of the best of these is markdown. Using markdown it is possible to write realy quite complex content, without the need to add the HTML or other complex mark-up tags that can make it difficult to see the wood for the trees.

Emacs has a major-mode for handling these files. I have published a page that contains tables of all the Emacs key-bindings for markdown-mode.

New Version of Raspberry VI

I've used the same theme as this site to create a new version of my other Linux and VI related Web site, Raspberry VI.

I supose you could these two sites sister sites.

Raspberry VI contains lots of info about the Raspberry Pi, for visually impaired users, including textual tours of the board, tables of the GPIO pin-outs and lots of other stuff.

I hope to get some new Linux images up on the site for download very soon.

Emacspeak on Debian Jessie

I've installed Emacspeak on my Dell Latitude D630 laptop running Debian 8.0 Jessie.

It's version 3.9 Big Dog, which I don't think is the latest version.

I had to edit the Makefile for the speech server to increase the tcl version from 8.4 to 8.6.

It works very nicely in a Mate terminal window, after pressing caps lock+s to stop Orca talking over the top of Emacspeak.

In fact I am writing this post with Emacspeak instead of my usual nano and I have to say that in a lot of ways I prefer it. There is still some tweaking to be done to my .emacs file.

LibreOffice Calc and Orca

The accessibility of LibreOffice is patchy on Windows. One difficult thing with LibreOffice Calc under Windows using the NVDA screen-reader is that on opening a spreadsheet, nothing is spoken until something is entered.

So, if you land on A1 and it contains some data, wiping it out by entering something to get it talking is annoying.

On Linux, I initially found that when pressing either the up or down arrors, the whole row is spoken, for example "A1 blank B1 blank C1 blank" etc.

But then Rill pointed out to me that Orca now has profiles for each separate application, and pressing control+caps lock+spacebar will bring up Orca preferences for just the focused application.

So I did that in LibreOffice Calc and I could then go to the 'Speech tab and check-off the check-box for speaking the entire row of a table.

Bingo! I would say that now LibreOffice Calc accessibility is better under Linux using Orca than under Windows using NVDA.

Cinnamon and KDE Inaccessible on Debian Jessie

Now that Debian Jessie is out and the net install CD gives the option of a number of desktops, I've been trying some for accessibility.

Without much hope I tried Cinnamon and KDE. Both are totally silent.

For KDE I don't know if there is something else that needs to be installed, like qt-at-spi or something. But I assume, and that is not always very wise, that the Debian team would have included that.

Next I'll try XFCE. I know LXDE is at least partly accessible but Mate feels so snappy I'll stick with that as my working desktop.

Debian 8.0 'Jessie' Released

A few days after I installed Debian 'Jessie' Release Candidate 3 on one of my laptops, the full release happened.

On 25th April 2015 Debian announced the release of Debian 8.0 'Jessie'.

Long-awaited by fans of Debian, like me.

This release gives the choice of several different desktops, not just Gnome.

These desktops probably have differing levels of accessibility, but as noted before, the Mate desktop seems to be very accessible and is a joy to use.

I will be posting a full installation guide in the next few days.

Debian Jessie Release candidate 3 With Mate

In the last couple of days I have been trying out Release Candidate 3 of Debian Jessie.

I used the x86_64 net install CD image.

There are some minor differences from the Wheezy net install, most notable of which is the ability to choose between several different desktops:

  • Gnome
  • LXDE
  • XFCE
  • Mate
  • Cinnamon

There may be another one or two.

I chose Mate.

So far it's going OK. I have noticed a couple of things, one of which is annoying, the quiet volume of the installation voice, some of which are just observations.

These are:

  • The aforementioned very low volume of the SpeakUp speech during the install.
  • The mix of SysVInit and systemd.
  • The flakiness of the lightdm greeter in sometimes not speaking. Nothing new there.

On the Dell Latitude D630 I installed it on Mate feels nice and snappy, although the speech is a bit clipped.

There is some problem with the internal wifi which causes many messages to be spat out during boot, but the Latitude has a switch so I am able to switch off the wifi until I have logged into the desktop.

The specs of the Latitude are:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo.
  • 2GHz Clock.
  • 2GB RAM (with 2GB swap configured on Jessie).

Not exactly a screaming monster but nice and usable for programming and office stuff.

Orca has come a long way since Debian Wheezy, and I am looking forward to Jessie being released proper.

I'll totally document the accessible install process in a couple of days.

I have another Dell Latitude D630 with Trisquel Linux on it but I think this installation feels nicer.