Linux 6.9 Improves Speakup - Its In-Kernel Speech Synthesizer

Written by Michael Larabel in Multimedia on 24 March 2024 at 10:10 AM EDT. 7 Comments
The speakup driver that's long existed within the Linux kernel is a speech synthesizer that can interface with various synthesizer hardware and from user-space software can interface with /dev/synth for submitting data to the synthesizer. With Linux 6.9 the speakup driver is seeing two useful improvements.

First, the speakup driver has a fix for 8-bit characters submitted to /dev/synth. Support for unsigned characters is added to avoid a situation where garbled text could occur when writing 8-bit characters to the device.

The other notable addition for Linux 6.9 is adding the /dev/synthu device for the speakup driver. Due to most applications now using UTF-8 encoding, /dev/synthu is a new interface over /dev/synth for allowing synthesizing non-latin1 characters. The new /dev/synthu device is limited to 16-bit Unicode like the rest of speakup with any odd input or beyond 16-bit to be auto-discarded.

Linux Speakup logo

Those unfamiliar with this speech synthesis Linux kernel accessibility feature can learn more about it and usage via

These speakup improvements were sent in as part of the char/misc changes for the Linux 6.9 merge window. The rest of the char/misc pull is the usual assortment of small and fairly random driver updates/fixes.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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