Speech synthesis under Linux
The story begins some time back when a close friend of mine decided to
show me this new method of reading through documentation without actually
reading it. The whole idea was to feed your documentation into the
text-to-speech software and listen to what your machine blabbers out to
Text-to-speech software comes under the banner of speech synthesis. On
Windows this worked very well with a piece of software available called
ReadmePlus 2000, which is freeware. This is a nifty piece of software but
is available only for the Windows platform, which I would never
install on my machine.
My search for a good open source alternative for Linux directed me towards
www.freshmeat.net. There were quite a few search results to my query but
the most mature project that I could see was Festival. Festival has been
in development for some time now and at the time of download it was at
version 1.4.1, a December 99 release.
Festival is a speech synthesis software being developed at CSTR,
University of Edinburgh . It is meant to offer developers a basic
framework for building Speech Synthesis systems and it includes various
modules for the purpose of demos. On the whole, Festival offers Text To
Speech through a number of API's, right from the shell level to a Command
Line Interpreter, a C++ Library and even an EMACS interface. Though
Festival is multi-lingual, support for English is the most advanced.
Festival is coded completely in C++ with a scheme-based command
interpreter for general control.
The Festival home page is located at www.cstr.ed.ac.uk/projects/festival.html.
Though the site proclaims that the project is still in BETA stage, I
found it to be both stable and effective. I certainly haven't found
a reason to curse myself for having downloaded Festival.
Let's get down to downloading Festival and all the tools that it requires.
The setup was done on a machine running SuSE 6.4. Just point your browser
to Festival's home page and look out for the download section. From the
download section you will need to download the following packages. I would
suggest that you download the binary RPM's, because they are the easiest
to install and will get you up and running quickly. The source code is also
available if you prefer more hard-core stuff.