Festival Info (Text-To-Speech Linux program)

Festival is free software framework for Unix-like systems that can take plain text and convert it into audible speech output. I'm sure we've all seen the Microsoft Merlin character (also known as a Microsoft Agent) that is part of MS Office and other Microsoft products. I'm not sure if that's where Merlin originally made his debut, but I'm pretty sure he can be chosen as an Office Assistant. MS Agents use speech synthesis to provide better interaction in their native application. I personally find it annoying but there are people that like it (Clippy is more to my liking. He doesn't say a word). One way Linux text-to-speech can be accomplished is by using Festival. The Linux flavor of choice for this tutorial is CentOS 4.2, but any Unix-like operating system will work if you can get Festival compiled or loaded via RPM (or some other means). In this tutorial I'll show you how to install Festival using yum, create a HTML form to accept user input, convert the text to speech with Festival's text2wave program while using some PHP processing, and optionally convert the default WAV-RIFF audio file into an MP3 using LAME to compress the file size. There are many more possibilities of using text-to-speech than I will be showing here, but this will get your feet wet so you can venture on to create more interesting Linux text-to-speech applications (a reminder script invoked via cron perhaps?).

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