Gnopernicus, Festival, VMware and getting it all working


After having it on my todo list for literally years I've been trying to get Gnopernicus up and working. I've been using a Windows screen reader for the GUI side of the world and either a console terminal or more recently Speakup for my access to Linux. Considering Linux is where I spend the majority of my time it seems silly not to try and maximize my uses of its tools.

So the great Gnome accessibility experiments started this week and my results have been less than stellar. So I'd like to ask some questions to try and put me on the right path. Some are pretty specific, others are more in the arena of general guidelines.

My biggest problem is that I can't get Festival to work. Any time I throw a text string at it I get nothing but a rather stuttered rasp from the speakers. Nothing even vaguely intelligible. Sound in general is working - tested that with .wav and .mp3 files.

I suspect my problem is that I've been trying this within VMware virtual machines. I could believe that the issues around guest/host timing could mess up a speech engine with an internal feedback loop but the fact that normal audio -- and indeed freeTTS -- do speak confuses me. However, both Festival and a demo version of Cepstral just throw noise at me. Has anyone ever got either speech engine working in a VM? After years of multi-boot machines I swore that I'd never return there and have been relying heavily on VMware for some time. If I have to natively install so be it but it'd be seriously non-optimal for me.

I mentioned I did get freetts to speak. That's only using it directly, I never managed to rebuild all the bits I need to actually try Gnopernicus with it. A Fedora core 5 install couldn't build the Java Access Bridge as it seems some of the AB Java implementations are now out of date with the internal Gnome IDL - a few new methods have appeared in places from what I can tell. I built the AB on a Fedora Core 4 install but then the gnome-speech build failed, not being able to find some required Java classes.

So, what external dependencies do these packages have? Are there specific -devel packages, libraries or jar files that need be available at buildtime? Or are they relatively self-contained?

Last question is on what distributions people have had most success with re getting all the pieces working. I see the Gnopernicus site only explicitly calls out Sun's JDS and Ubuntu for its tested distros. I'm currently using Fedora (4 and 5), CentOS (4.3), Red Hat Enterprise WS (4) - I'll happily install Ubuntu or JDS but referencing above this would be much easier if I can do it under VMware. If I have to install natively then I'll become more risk averse.

Any comments or advice gratefully received. I've done a lot of googling but I seem to be trapped by the VMware question (I assume) and what I suspect is a version clash with building for freetts under Fedora and I've not seen these issues directly addressed.

Many thanks,

Garry Turkington
garry turkington gmail com

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