Pick a Free OS

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.

1) festival-1.4.1-1s.i386.rpm