Firefox Speech Synthesis Not Working in Kubuntu By Default

Bug #1866880 reported by Lonnie Lee Best
This bug affects 1 person
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
firefox (Ubuntu)
kubuntu-meta (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

Modern web browsers, by spec, are supposed to support Speech Synthesis. Although Firefox does indeed support it, it doesn't work in Kubuntu 20.04.

On this very page, you should be able to have Firefox read it aloud by typing shift-ctrl-I and then entering this code-line into the console (and pressing enter):

speechSynthesis.speak(new SpeechSynthesisUtterance(document.getElementsByTagName("body")[0].innerText));

Something shorter, that you could type into the console (for testing) is:

speechSynthesis.speak(new SpeechSynthesisUtterance("testing 1, 2, 3");

You should be able to hear the browser say "testing 1, 2, 3" after doing this, but it doesn't working Kubuntu 20.04.

This works in Ubuntu 20.04 and Windows 10, but doesn't work in Kubuntu 20.04. I'm reporting this in hopes that it gets fixed in a manner where all Kubuntu user can enjoy Speech Synthesis by default.

Currently, to enable Speech Synthesis in Firefox, on Kubuntu 20.04, you have to manually install speech-dispatcher and restart Firefox:

sudo apt install speech-dispatcher

The main purpose of this bug is to request that speech-dispatcher be installed by default because Firefox needs it to be complaint with modern web standards.

Additionally, the Kubuntu team should put this task into their release-checklist, for all future builds of Kubuntu, so that the desktop's speech-dispatcher is always there for the applications that expect its availability.

ProblemType: Bug
DistroRelease: Ubuntu 20.04
Package: firefox 78.0.2+build2-0ubuntu0.20.04.1
ProcVersionSignature: Ubuntu 5.4.0-42.46-generic 5.4.44
Uname: Linux 5.4.0-42-generic x86_64
NonfreeKernelModules: nvidia_modeset nvidia
AddonCompatCheckDisabled: False
ApportVersion: 2.20.11-0ubuntu27.4
Architecture: amd64
BuildID: 20200708170202
CasperMD5CheckResult: skip
Channel: Unavailable
CurrentDesktop: KDE
Date: Sun Jul 26 03:51:21 2020
DefaultProfileExtensions: extensions.sqlite corrupt or missing
DefaultProfileIncompatibleExtensions: Unavailable (corrupt or non-existant compatibility.ini or extensions.sqlite)
DefaultProfileLocales: extensions.sqlite corrupt or missing
DefaultProfilePrefErrors: Unexpected character ',' before close parenthesis @ /usr/lib/firefox/omni.ja:greprefs.js:730
DefaultProfileThemes: extensions.sqlite corrupt or missing
ForcedLayersAccel: False
InstallationDate: Installed on 2020-04-26 (91 days ago)
InstallationMedia: Kubuntu 20.04 LTS "Focal Fossa" - Release amd64 (20200423)
 PATH=(custom, no user)
Profile0Extensions: extensions.sqlite corrupt or missing
Profile0IncompatibleExtensions: Unavailable (corrupt or non-existant compatibility.ini or extensions.sqlite)
Profile0Locales: extensions.sqlite corrupt or missing
Profile0PrefErrors: Unexpected character ',' before close parenthesis @ /usr/lib/firefox/omni.ja:greprefs.js:730
Profile0PrefSources: prefs.js
Profile0Themes: extensions.sqlite corrupt or missing
 Profile1 (Default) - LastVersion=None/None (Out of date)
 Profile0 - LastVersion=78.0.2/20200708170202 (In use)
RunningIncompatibleAddons: False
SourcePackage: firefox
UpgradeStatus: No upgrade log present (probably fresh install) 12/12/2017
dmi.bios.vendor: American Megatrends Inc.
dmi.bios.version: 1.05.04RSA5
dmi.board.asset.tag: Tag 12345 Bonobo WS
dmi.board.vendor: System76
dmi.board.version: bonw13
dmi.chassis.asset.tag: No Asset Tag
dmi.chassis.type: 10
dmi.chassis.vendor: System76
dmi.chassis.version: N/A
dmi.modalias: dmi:bvnAmericanMegatrendsInc.:bvr1.05.04RSA5:bd12/12/2017:svnSystem76:pnBonoboWS:pvrbonw13:rvnSystem76:rnBonoboWS:rvrbonw13:cvnSystem76:ct10:cvrN/A: Not Applicable Bonobo WS
dmi.product.sku: Not Applicable
dmi.product.version: bonw13
dmi.sys.vendor: System76

Revision history for this message
Lonnie Lee Best (launchpad-startport) wrote :
Revision history for this message
Lonnie Lee Best (launchpad-startport) wrote :

Another example:

Here's a card trick I made, where the browser should speak during the trick:

This speaking can be heard in both Firefox and Chrome on Windows 10. It also works in Ubuntu Firefox. However, it does NOT work in Kubuntu 19.10 Firefox (you don't hear anything). Hopefully this will be fixed by Kubuntu 20.04 LTS.

tags: added: focal
description: updated
Revision history for this message
Lonnie Lee Best (launchpad-startport) wrote :

Here's another example that doesn't work in Kubuntu, but should:

Revision history for this message
Lonnie Lee Best (launchpad-startport) wrote :

Can someone please confirm this bug. It's been 3 months and no one yet has taken the 30 seconds that's required reproduce it and confirm it.

Revision history for this message
Olivier Tilloy (osomon) wrote :

I can confirm, this works in Ubuntu 20.04, but it doesn't in Kubuntu 20.04.

Changed in firefox (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
importance: Undecided → Medium
Revision history for this message
Lonnie Lee Best (launchpad-startport) wrote :

Kubuntu team,

Can you please address this issue and add it to a checklist of testing for all future releases?

Is there any way you'll be fixing this in Kubuntu 20.04 LTS?

Revision history for this message
Kai Kasurinen (kai-kasurinen) wrote :

speech-dispatcher is not installed by default

affects: kde-baseapps → kubuntu-meta (Ubuntu)
Revision history for this message
Lonnie Lee Best (launchpad-startport) wrote :

@kia-kasurinen Thank you so much!

sudo apt-get install speech-dispatcher

After the command above, and restarting Firefox, Speech Synthesis is working in Firefox.

Please advocate getting this package into the default install of Kubuntu 20.04. The browser will use it if it is there, and other OS desktops make sure a speech-dispatcher is provided. Kubuntu should also. This will help all web developers who use speech synthesis and keep Kubuntu users from scratching their heads on web pages that are supposed to be speaking to them, but are not.

description: updated
summary: - Firefox Speech Synthesis Not Working in Kubuntu
+ Firefox Speech Synthesis Not Working in Kubuntu By Default
tags: added: groovy
Changed in kubuntu-meta (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
Olivier Tilloy (osomon)
Changed in firefox (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → Invalid
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