Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Wednesday, December 19, 2018 at 23:59

Text to Speech (TTS) is a technology to assist disabled people in reading-by-hearing for those who cannot see and in speaking-by-typing for those who cannot speak. eSpeak Speech Synthesizer is an amazing program on GNU/Linux to help anybody helping themselves (or, helping others who have disabilities and impairments). This article is one part of my new series in GNU/Linux accessibility and I want this to be easy for everybody. I will explain to you in this first part the basics by using espeak as a perfect example for first timers. You will learn how to type the text and let computer speaks it loud. This way, you can help anyone who is mute to speak using their computer.

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  • Know the requirements
  • Install required programs
  • Try the basic speech
  • Try to control the speed of speech
  • Try to change the language of speech
  • End words & what's next


You should install this software on your GNU/Linux. On Ubuntu, the package name is espeak. Other distros may have different package names. Install it:
$ sudo apt-get install espeak 


Run espeak command:
$ espeak

Type hello! and press Enter. What voice do you hear?

Type my name is bonnie and press Enter. What voice do you hear?

Type what is your name? and press Enter. What voice do you hear?

Press Ctrl+C to close the program.

See? It works. But, you will find that all those speaking out voices are too fast. You can slow them down.

Second Exercise:

Run espeak -s 100 -g 10 command:
$ espeak -s 100 -g 10

Type hello there, I am coming again! and press Enter. How is it now?

Type now you can speak using computer! and press Enter. How does it sound?

Type just type to say what you want to say! and press Enter. Is it perfect now?

Press Ctrl+C to close the program.

You see, the parameter -s is speed, and -g is gap. Speed is reading speed in word per minute, by default it's 160. Gap is pause gap between words, by default it's 1. Play with the numbers to find out your suitable composition.

Now, you can change the language of speaker to your native one. I give you example here Indonesian (espeak code: "asia/id").

Third Exercise:

Run espeak in Indonesian:

$ espeak -s 100 -g 10 -v asia/id

Type halo and press Enter.

Type nama saya bonnie and press Enter.

Type siapa namamu? and press Enter.

Type halo, saya datang lagi! and press Enter.

Type sekarang kamu bisa berbicara dengan komputer! and press Enter.

Type ketik saja untuk mengatakan apa yang mau kamu katakan! and press Enter.

Press Ctrl+C to close the program.

If you wonder what those sentences mean, they are just translations of English sentences we used above.

Further Readings

If you want to know more about accessibility technology especially TTS on GNU/Linux, here several good starting points:

Next Part...

That's all. Thanks Jonathan Duddington for creating espeak. I really hope this article helps you and other people a lot, especially those with impairments. For the next part, I will explain about Text To Speech from PDF reader. I will use KDE Okular for that. Okay, enjoy, and let's help people with accessibility technology!

to be continued...

This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.