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Why Is Adobe Flash On Linux Still Broken? 963

Posted by kdawson
from the where-there's-a-will dept.
mwilliamson writes "As I sit reading my morning paper online I still cannot view the embedded videos due to auto-detection of my Flash player not working. One in every three or four YouTube videos crashes the browser. I remember sometime back reading that Adobe has a very small development team (possibly only one) working on the Linux port of Flash. It has occurred to me that Flash on Linux is the one major entry barrier controlling acceptance of Linux as a viable desktop operating system. No matter how stably, smoothly, efficiently, and correctly Linux runs on a machine, the public will continue to view it as second-rate if Flash keeps crashing. This is the worst example of being tied down and bound by a crappy 3rd-party product over which no Linux distribution has any control. GNASH is nice, but it just isn't there 100%. I really do have to suspect Adobe's motivation for keeping Flash on Linux in such a deplorable state."
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Why Is Adobe Flash On Linux Still Broken?

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  • Flash sucks (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:37PM (#24636405)

    Adopt Silverlight!

    • Re:Flash sucks (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @03:04PM (#24636757) Journal
      See, thats marked as troll, and the poster probably was trolling. However, is there a real difference between flash and silverlight? They're both controlled by a single company. If Moonlight (the linux based open source version based on mono) takes off, shouldn't that put more pressure on Adobe to fix their crappy linux port?

      Of course, I'd take silverlight more seriously if it worked better on Windows. Several computers I've set up have had problems installing Silverlight.
      • Re:Flash sucks (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Ilgaz (86384) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @06:39PM (#24638909) Homepage

        Adobe at least tries so hard to support multiple platforms, even planning to ship Flash Lite 3 for free to Symbian/WinMo whatever while Microsoft would sit and cry if somehow all operating systems have Silverlight support.

        They (MS) dropped PowerPC support as early as release 2 while Adobe enabled (finally!) multi core/SMP support on Flash 10 plugin OS X.

        Moonlight? Yes, we see how Mono helps windows developers to ship for Linux. ;)

        • Re:Flash sucks (Score:5, Insightful)

          by aliquis (678370) <dospam@gmail.com> on Monday August 18, 2008 @02:44AM (#24641865) Homepage

          But Flash suck on OS X aswell, a couple of pages with flash ads can easily take all my processor power, no matter how much there is, which is just unacceptable.

          What we need is to get rid of flash since it sucks balls, who needs it?

          1) Flash are mostly used for ads, who wants ads? Especially if they move, makes sound, sits on top of other things, take lots of CPU power, memory and heats up your machine.

          2) Flash are sometimes used to design complete webpages, which suck because they have to be navigated in a non-standard way, design goes over function, they take forever to load and I can't open lots of screenshots in multiple tabs...

          3) Finally flash are used for videos, which I guess some people who don't have a clue like because that way they don't have to install any more codecs. But personally that's (youtube, gametrailers, and such) the only thing stopping me from removing flash completely, so I so much want this to change. Safari can handle video directly in the browser and I hope we see more of that, won't happen until the suckers with IE get the functionallity + couple of years extra I guess though :/
          Even old embedded quicktime days was better.

    • by Peet42 (904274) <Peet42@NetscapFO ... t minus language> on Sunday August 17, 2008 @04:15PM (#24637511)

      Adopt Silverlight!

      Indeed. Anything to get it away from its abusive parents.

    • Re:Flash sucks (Score:4, Interesting)

      by The Original Yama (454111) <lists@sridhar.dhanapalan@com> on Sunday August 17, 2008 @09:49PM (#24640179) Homepage

      Adopt Silverlight!

      If by that you mean that we should be investigating alternatives, then absolutely.

      Before Adobe swallowed Macromedia, they were assisting the development of SVG as an alternative to Flash. Perhaps we need to return to this idea and place renewed emphasis on SVG. I'm sure that SVG combined with other open technologies (JavaScript, Ogg Speex/Vorbis/Theora, etc.) could prove to be a viable alternative if the right effort was put in.

      The biggest stumbling blocks I see to this are the dearth of easy authoring tools and the lack of a strong install base on the client side.

  • Flash (Score:5, Insightful)

    by XanC (644172) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:38PM (#24636407)

    Flash (and Silverlight, et al) are a threat to the Internet generally. I wouldn't run Flash even if they bothered to create a version that runs on my OS (64-bit Linux).

    The more of use that don't use Flash, the better.

    • by wimmi (263136) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:46PM (#24636499)

      Flash is a great channel to provide commercial products (video, ads, DRM'ed shit).
      It's no threat at all when Flash isn't abused as website critical table of contents.

      To comment on the OP: have you already tried the version 10 release candidate? It's supposed to support new audio API's and hardware acceleration.

      • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) * on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:50PM (#24636561) Homepage Journal

        So it's true - if the OP and the subsequent comments are representative of a real problem: Pr0n is what drives the success of a net platform!

        Elephant, meet room.

      • by Bashae (1250564) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @03:50PM (#24637273)

        Not just that - Flash is also great for minigames, original animation, small applications... The only thing flash should NOT be used for is making websites, wholly or in part. Unfortunately, lots of bad webmasters just don't get it.

        Of course, maybe if Javascript behavior was more consistent across different browsers, versions of the same browser and operating systems, people would stop making crappy flash websites.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I wouldn't run Flash even if they bothered to create a version that runs on my OS (64-bit Linux).

      I'm using Flash on 64-bit Linux right now. No problems with YouTube, although some sites appear to be using crap detection scripts that give me a "You must upgrade to Flash 9 to view this" when in fact I am running Flash 9.

      That being said, I'd be much happier if Flash were displaced by SVG or some other form of markup. Binary blobs suck.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vk2 (753291)
        Lucky you. I have a very different experience with flash on Ubuntu-8.0.4.1-amd64 ; After about 6 to 8 flash videos (Youtube.com, news websites etc) flash doesn't work anymore (gives me a blank white window) until I restart Firefox. The same cycle continues ad-infinitum. Since I fiddle with Oracle databases all the time on this machine - I got the brilliant idea to upgrade my machine to use 4G of RAM and now I cannot happily browse without restarting Firefox every now and then. Finally switched over to my ba
        • Re:Flash (Score:4, Informative)

          by Zontar The Mindless (9002) <plasticfish@info.gmail@com> on Sunday August 17, 2008 @03:13PM (#24636853)

          My bad - sort of.

          I'm using 32-bit Firefox 2.0.0.16 on 64-bit openSUSE 10.2. (I get tired of waiting for them to upgrade, and I can't get it to compile, so I just grab the 32-bit binary from mozilla.com and plop it in my ~/bin.)

          BTW, the Flash 10 installer wouldn't run ("OS not supported"), but copying libflashplayer.so to ~/.mozilla/plugins and restarting the browser did the trick.

      • Re:Flash (Score:5, Insightful)

        by xSauronx (608805) <xsauronxdamnitNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday August 17, 2008 @03:40PM (#24637165)

        More posts that should be put in a distro-specific forum, instead of the slashdot front page. Im all for helping people, but some need to help themselves.

        I never had any serious, regular problem, in the last year and a half, with Debian Etch or Any Ubuntu release since 6.10 (when i first used it) with flash. The oddball crash happens, but its nothing normal or that I can re-create (in epiphany browser or firefox)

        With that, I link to "How to ask questions the smart way" or "christ, can you search first, then ask in the apporopriate place?" :

        Clickity [linuxmafia.com]

        Please understand I have nothing again helping anyone....but people should help themselves first. The flashplayer performance is horrible, but the OP lists no specifics to help him with his problem. Theres no distro name, no kernel or browser type or version given, no way anyone can help him.

        The post is just a bitch and moan. This is slashdot, news for nerds, etc. There have been useful, interesting "Ask Slashdot" posts, but this is not one of them.

    • Re:Flash (Score:5, Insightful)

      by j1m+5n0w (749199) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:57PM (#24636677) Homepage Journal

      I don't disagree that flash is bad for the web, but in order to convince developers not to use it, there needs to be a valid alternative. If youtube didn't use flash for video, what would they use instead? Animated gifs? Expecting a site like youtube to just not serve video because there isn't a free software way to do what they want to do is unreasonable.

      We really need at least some form of video integrated into the browser, and it looks like we might have it in firefox soon [slashdot.org], (better many years too late than never). Then, we can at least give sites the option of serving video to browsers that support theora but not flash.

      • Re:Flash (Score:5, Informative)

        by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Sunday August 17, 2008 @03:46PM (#24637219) Journal

        If youtube didn't use flash for video, what would they use instead? Animated gifs?

        Or maybe embedded video, which browsers have supported for decades? Like, oh, Quicktime, or mpeg?

        You could argue that Flash had a wider install base. And you'd be right -- but what about up-to-date Flash? YouTube has been requiring higher and higher versions, like just about all Flash content. At this point, I would guess that everyone who can watch YouTube also has some sort of player that supports mpeg.

        We really need at least some form of video integrated into the browser, and it looks like we might have it in firefox soon

        You're talking about the HTML5 video tag. Erm... Safari beat us to it. With h.264 support.

        So, Safari and Firefox will support native video. It should be trivial to write a script which detects a browser not supporting the video tag, and replaces it with some embedded Flash, for backwards compatibility -- and because we know it will take a decade or so for IE to support this.

        • Re:Flash (Score:4, Informative)

          by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @05:48PM (#24638433)

          MPEG has the patent problem: Getting a commercially supported player, for Linux, remains impossible becuase the patent owners _will not sell_ reasonable licenses for Linux. While sites like 'Penguin Liberation Front' remain very useful for those of us who need casual tool access to play an occasional MPEG, making commercially supportable MPEG players for Linux remains awkward.

          Mind you, the 'Penguin Liberation Front' remains a wonderful source of software for anyone outside of the DMCA encumbered and software patent encumbered USA who wnats to play MPEG's, DVD's, or even have access to wired old tools that had odd licenses.

        • Re:Flash (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Ilgaz (86384) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @06:55PM (#24639037) Homepage

          I tell you the issue with Quicktime and my personal favourite (really!) Real Player.

          Flash player plugin is a single click install with a joke like 1.2 MB size, it lives inside browser, nothing added to startup.

          Quicktime and Real missed the opportunity because of their size and old policies (Real, especially).

          There is no way you can explain to Apple fans that adding a taskbar icon on Windows, bundling additional software with UI tricks (iTunes) are reasons of "death sentence" on Windows scene. I am sure there are similar thinking people at Apple themselves. Would you want rc.flash.startup in your /etc everytime you install Flash? It is same for them.

          I see Real doing lots of things to get the download smaller with less user irritation but they still can't understand a basic trick: bare minimum framework+plugin. That is what Adobe does, even on recent Adobe Air.

          HTML5 guys pushing ogg format really, really doesn't make sense. Media have gave up VP3 ages ago and you know as people having lawyers dedicated to copyright, they aren't that bugged about patents. Big media is arguing whether they should keep on MPEG4 or convert to H264. It seems new fashion tiny laptops saved MPEG4 fate ;)

        • by arete (170676) <areteslashdot2 AT xig DOT net> on Sunday August 17, 2008 @08:51PM (#24639833) Homepage

          I'm not trying to hide my bias - most of the work we do is in Actionscript.

          But I agree as much as the next guy that making a typical website in Flash is stupid. So is unnecessary required video, low-contrast color schemes, gratuitous music, required Javascript for basic navigation, poor text-only / accessibility support, and many other things that are common on all together too many sites.

          There's a bunch of reasons to use Flash, but the biggest one is that it lets you do something no other platform does - create rich, full featured, object oriented applications that just work with a wide installed user base, on a variety of platforms, with a minimum* of security risk to the user.

          If you're only thinking Flash Video, you're thinking too small. Think "any application in the world that does not need direct hardware access or to maximize its access to computing resources" It runs over the web, it runs locally, and it runs the same.

          Really, Flash shouldn't have this crown. Java applets should. But they don't, because of how that played out in the 90s. The behavior isn't consistent, and developing rich applications for it was tedious at best.

          For the programmers reading, you don't want to develop apps in Flash, which is a super-glorified animation tool. But you want to develop in Adobe Flex, which is a wonderful tool with a for-pay IDE, but a free CLI compiler. The OUTPUT is a Flash swf, but the INPUT no longer has a binary animation file, and all of the layout supports inheritance. And the crossover is tremendous and seamless, so you can use whatever your animators/designers make in Flash in a blink.

          To address some other points:

          Even requiring a recent version of Flash, Flash does generally have a higher installed user base than any other single system. Obviously "HTML" per se has a higher base, but if you're doing anything modestly complex you have to break apart the major-different IE versions from everything else, and last I checked I believe Flash 9 has a higher installed base than any family of HTML rendering. I believe these stats were based on computers "active on the web" - so it doesn't count things that aren't hooked up to the internet currently, many of which presumably have old versions of IE.

          Flash Player isn't as open and crossplatform as I'd like, but in general it's been getting better on both counts. Reading the comments of people who actually described there system, it seems like there's problems running Flash Player with 64bit browsers in Linux, and not with 32bit browsers...

          *I didn't say NO security risk. But as platforms for running totally arbitrary third party code go, I don't know of anything that does a BETTER job.

          Starting as early as 2002 Actionscript is an OOP language.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by corbettw (214229)

      Flash (and Silverlight, et al) are a threat to the Internet generally.

      BS. Flash is a great way to deliver rich content on a website. It's only a threat if you think the Internet should stay in the same configuration it was in in 1983, when a 1200 baud connection was considered fast and if you wanted porn you had to print it out and hold it two feet in front of you.

      Considering the level of citizen journalism that sites like YouTube and LiveLeak have enabled, all thanks to Flash, I think you need to seriously rethink your stance against that platform.

      • Re:Flash (Score:5, Insightful)

        by XanC (644172) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @03:23PM (#24636981)

        You've proven the case for multimedia on the Web. Not Flash.

        Think of the level of citizen journalism, all the articles and ideas, that Microsoft Word has enabled. Therefore, we should all store and distribute .doc files instead of an open standard.

      • Re:Flash (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hedwards (940851) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @03:30PM (#24637061)

        It's a threat to anybody that isn't able to use flash. And the fact that there aren't any good alternatives to their implementation is a pretty good reason to fear it as well.

        As a FreeBSD user the only way I get to see flash is if I use wine to run a Windows version of Firefox. Which means that a great number of sites like youtube don't run in any meaningful manner without a lot of extra effort.

        Just because I have a DSL line doesn't mean that I'm OK with sites that choose to waste a lot of it unnecessarily on overly complicated interfaces which ultimately just slow things down.

        Same goes for processing power, I don't care if it's lost revenue, if the only ads available are flash, I'm not going to be clicking. There's absolutely no reason why flash ads need to be used. We've got gifs and pngs which can do pretty much all of that without risk of crashing the browser.

      • Re:Flash (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Sunday August 17, 2008 @03:39PM (#24637149) Journal

        It's only a threat if you think the Internet should stay in the same configuration it was in in 1983, when a 1200 baud connection was considered fast

        This isn't about the technology, not directly. There are two points to keep in mind here:

        First, Flash is proprietary. Making the Internet depend on proprietary technology is destroying the one thing that makes the Internet great -- anyone can connect, from anything.

        That is: The Internet thrives on open standards. Flash isn't open, and Silverlight is neither. (Yeah, I know about Moonlight -- how long till that gets hit with patents from Microsoft, though, if it starts to matter?)

        Second: Flash is its own little ecosystem. HTML really is very powerful -- done right, it's possible to both style it up very richly with CSS, and yet keep the HTML itself so clean that it's machine readable -- so much so that people start to build microformats [microformats.org] on top of it. Makes the job much easier for screenreaders, also, or for people who want to reskin the page (just load up a Greasemonkey script and add a stylesheet).

        Flash supports none of these things. There is some mention of accessibility, yes, but it's nowhere near where HTML is.

        HTML separates things into pages and sub-page anchors. It's possible to do this with Flash, but only by piggybacking on top of what HTML is already doing, and with a fair amount of Javascript.

        That is: I can bookmark this comment, if I need to. I can link to it from another page, directly. If Slashdot was written in Flash, would I be able to?

        I could go on. And on.

        The only legitimate use of Flash is to add functionality which isn't yet in a browser, and to select chunks of the page -- that is, YouTube isn't entirely Flash, just the player. But that should only be a holdover until the necessary things are implemented in the browser.

        Considering the level of citizen journalism that sites like YouTube and LiveLeak have enabled, all thanks to Flash...

        No, thanks to embedded video, which existed long before Flash, and is finally being done in a standard way with the HTML5 video tag. YouTube never needed Flash, and still doesn't.

  • Open Source Flash? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Z00L00K (682162) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:40PM (#24636423) Homepage

    So there is no version of Flash that is open source then?

    The disadvantage of not being able to play Flash is mostly on sites like YouTube. But some other sites are also using Flash for the interesting content.

    So the big question is - is it possible to implement a Flash player for Linux that's open source?

    • by JohnFluxx (413620) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:45PM (#24636481)

      There is Gnash (http://www.gnu.org/software/gnash/) but it still has a way to go

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tom9729 (1134127)

      So there is no version of Flash that is open source then?

      The disadvantage of not being able to play Flash is mostly on sites like YouTube. But some other sites are also using Flash for the interesting content.

      So the big question is - is it possible to implement a Flash player for Linux that's open source?

      I was going to mod you down for not RTFS [especially the part about GNASH], but instead I'll answer your question.

      Yes, it's called Gnash.The Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] should tell you all you need to know.

    • by LinuxInDallas (73952) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:49PM (#24636535)

      It's not just the "interesting" content unfortunately.

      There's a BBQ restaurant nearby that I occasionally order to-go from. If I was out of the house and wanted to get something on the way home I would pull their webpage up on my iPhone and order after looking at the online menu. Well guess what happened a couple months ago? They had their website redesigned with flash and provided no alternate webpage for those of us without flash players.

      The use of flash in this case provided nothing for the site other than some fancy animation when the page first opens. I emailed the admin but have had no luck getting access to the old site provided via the new main page :(

      • by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Sunday August 17, 2008 @03:04PM (#24636751) Homepage
        Forget the admin -- he/she probably got paid for doing the Flash work and is glad to have the bucks. What you need to do, is walk in and ask to talk to the owner. Tell him/her his website design is causing him to lose business because you can no longer order dinner on your way home. This causes you to patronize other shops. As a small business owner myself, I can tell you that that sort of feedback has a 99.99% chance of getting serious attention. There's always an outlier here or there of course.
        • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @03:20PM (#24636927)
          Yep to everything anagama said. It's likely that the restaurant owner has no idea how the web developer created or implemented the site (nor does he particularly care). All he knows is that it worked when the guy showed it to him before handing over the check and that it works on his own computer when he tries it. He has no idea that there are whole groups of people that are completely blocked off from accessing his site. He needs to be made aware of this. Whether he does anything or not is another matter entirely (he probably paid more than he wanted to for the Flash site and is wary of having it redesigned so soon).
        • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @03:24PM (#24636985)

          I agree with this - but it's important not to go off on some zealotry-driven rant (this being Slashdot) that's full of generalizations. Keep it simple, and explain the exact situation: There is no way to use the restaurant's new website on an iPhone, at all; while it used to work perfectly fine (make sure they realize this second part - something is broken that used to work well).

          I've seen and heard plenty of zealotry-driven rants about the web, usually regarding Flash or Javascript. In the real world people don't care about your opinions regarding "good" or "evil" technologies. What they DO care about is something that isn't working in a practical manner.

          A burger place may listen politely to a vegetarian, but they're not going to change much to accommodate that person. When a repeat customer is taking their business elsewhere, they're a bit more willing to make changes.

      • iphone, no flash? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Sunday August 17, 2008 @03:12PM (#24636845) Homepage Journal
        I may be the only one here who finds this news. Although this is of course at least partially a symptom of my not caring about he iphone in general.

        However, as my wife wants the iphone, I have to ask how this problem works. I thought most systems used flash for youtube - which leads me to the question of how does the iphone use youtube if it doesn't use flash?
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Nyeerrmm (940927)
          THere is no Flash implementation in the webbrowser. However, there is a built-in app that reads the videos directly from YouTube, which is very nice. Unfortunately, it also means other flash-based video sites (e.g. Hulu) are unavailable.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Evan Meakyl (762695)
      It seems that you don't know what GNASH is!

      If I am right, GNASH [gnu.org] is a GNU Flash player under GPL, whose base is gameswf [tulrich.com], which was originally created for the interface of a game on XBOX.

      I mainly know gameswf for having worked with it, it is nice and very promising, but lacked some important functions and need (in my opinion) a code redesign.
    • by Pecisk (688001) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:53PM (#24636615)

      There is two versions of Flash decoding libraries, one called Gnash and another called Swfdec. I still wonder why they don't work together, but hey, they are open source and both has kinda different visions how to deal with Flash proprietary stuff. I have tested Swfdec for a while and I can say that Ads surerly works, so do YouTube videos - but not perfectly. I personally think one of them will achieve 90% of all Flash stuff playable in next year or two, so it is kinda very ok. To be honest, Adobe also opened up Flash spec a bit more and as far as I heard both teams are busy implementing stuff from it.

      So, in short, it is possible, but it takes time. As it is not pressing problem - there is Adobe Flash player for Linux officialy - so everything progress slowly. But it goes forward.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Russ Nelson (33911)

        Swfdec is written in C, and Gnash in C++.

      • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @03:30PM (#24637063)

        There is two versions of Flash decoding libraries, one called Gnash and another called Swfdec. I still wonder why they don't work together, but hey, they are open source and both has kinda different visions how to deal with Flash proprietary stuff.

        While the Slashdot story opined that "Flash on Linux is the one major entry barrier controlling acceptance of Linux as a viable desktop operating system", I think you've unintentionally hit on the real reason Linux isn't taken seriously in the desktop arena by the masses. How many times have we seen this exact scenario played out on Linux (e.g. in window managers, browsers, digital music, video, etc.)?

      • by pizzach (1011925) <pizzach@nOSPAM.gmail.com> on Sunday August 17, 2008 @03:49PM (#24637267) Homepage

        There is two versions of Flash decoding libraries, one called Gnash and another called Swfdec. I still wonder why they don't work together, but hey, they are open source and both has kinda different visions how to deal with Flash proprietary stuff.

        From http://www.gnashdev.org/?q=node/30 [gnashdev.org] is a sorta answer:

        LWN: Some LWN readers have complained that having two projects aimed at implementing Flash is divisive and wasteful. How would you respond to those readers?

        Benjamin: The optimal number of projects for a given project space sounds like a good PhD thesis topic. Having multiple projects in a space, or multiple solutions to a problem is simply how things work in the community. Any non-trivial bug or project space has multiple solutions, and often one cannot determine which is the best solution until all have been tried. Also, people working on these projects are real people with real interests and complex motivations for working on particular projects. Simplifying it into "you currently work on A, so you'd instead like working on B in the same project space" is unrealistic. And IMO, divisiveness between similar projects often has more to do with fanboys than it has to do with developers, who obviously share interests and experiences.

    • by theshowmecanuck (703852) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:53PM (#24636627) Journal

      This is not so trivial as not being able to play YouTube videos. There are many commercial sites that use flash for almost their entire content.

      Along with that, I can tell you about a buddy of mine who works in the advertising industry: we were talking about Firefox and web sites and I mentioned to him about how much I hate flash and all the flashy crap (no pun intended) that distracts and pisses me off when I surf the web... so much so that I use Flashblock. His reply was, "yeah me and everyone I know in this industry try to get the programmers to put as much flashy flash stuff up on our different marketing web sites and advertising banners as possible... and loving it! We won't stop." (Paraphrased, but pretty damn close.)

      So you see, just like photo shop, the graphic arts and marketing industry are major players driving this piece of crap scourge (sorry for not letting my real feeling for flash content show... it wouldn't be appropriate here).

      • by legirons (809082) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @03:49PM (#24637259)

        Now that usable websites can be created by anybody (mostly because the simplest HTML works best), people who have a career programming websites are a bit stuck.

        They can't really advertise being able to create the best types of website (basic HTML) because anyone can do that and most clients are getting along perfectly well with their grandson running the website. Why would anyone pay professionals for that?

        So the only reason you'd hire a webdesign professional, is if for some reason you wanted Flash content. Hence the lack of webdesigners using normal, sane techniques. Hence their lack of work. Hence the decrease in their workload as every site they design fails on the iphone or eee or freerunner or ubuntu desktop or flashblocked firefox.

        (all browsers should have FlashBlock, it's invaluable at saving your sanity)

        So yes, web designers will all use flash. That's because web designers aren't needed anymore to make websites.

    • Of course it's possible to implement Flash with free software, but that won't solve the problem. Free software is a powerful enough development method to overcome CSS, the Windows API, SMB, and DX. What task do you think is out of reach? The problem then is one of a legal framework that makes it impossible to distribute free software that works with broken media like DVDs and websites that use Flash. There are technical solutions but legal solutions are better. Software patents and the DMCA must go.

      The

  • by calc (1463) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:44PM (#24636463)

    Flash 9.0.124.0 crashes all the time on my wife's Windows XP system running Firefox as well. Most of the time it exhibits as not being able to play sound. So it definitely isn't limited to Linux. Flash is just crap.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:45PM (#24636485)

    I used to have this happen to be on Ubuntu 8.04. I fixed it by downloading the official version of Flash from the Adobe website and replacing all of the versions of the .so on my computer. Wouldn't you know it, it worked again. I think the problem is that the version in Ubuntu 8.04 was hacked up to support PulseAudio. When I removed PulseAudio, suddenly audio didn't work anymore (in addition to, you know, the crashing all the time), but when I replaced the .so, it did again. So I recommend going to the Adobe website and getting the official version, because it does work.

  • by jdb2 (800046) * on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:45PM (#24636491) Journal
    I've noticed, at least since I switched from Firefox 2 to Firefox 3, that when Adobe Flash Player 9 ( or 10 ) is installed the browser exhibits sporadic lockups and crashes when navigating the Web -- not just when viewing Flash video or a site that makes heavy use of Flash, although that does seem to increase the odds of the browser eating itself.

    After the release of Firefox 3.0 I opted to install Adobe Flash Player 10 Beta. The performance was much better as was the video quality and I didn't experience as many crashes. This all changed when Adobe updated the Beta and the details can be found in the bug report that I filed here [mozilla.org]. To summarize, after the update, Flash Player 10 would cause the browser to segfault and lockup so frequently, sometimes even upon startup, that the browser became unusable -- I had to downgrade to Flash Player 9. Currently there is someone from Adobe assigned to work on the "problem" whatever it is, but I haven't heard anything in weeks.

    jdb2
    • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Sunday August 17, 2008 @03:20PM (#24636921) Journal

      Thank you for hitting the nail on the head. While everyone that uses Linux exclusively is saying "We need a well running flash player",we Windows users (only use Linux on the laptop for security reasons) will be happy to tell you that there ain't no such thing,certainly not from Adobe. If I build a machine and don't install flash on it,the browsers,be it Firefox,Kmeleon,Opera,IE,etc will be nice and stable. The second I install flash,well that is when the headaches begin. Random lockups,freezes,poor memory and CPU usage,etc. And as the above poster mentioned and I can attest to it isn't just when you are using flash either. It is just a buggy POS software.

      Unfortunately it looks like we are stuck with it for now, just like we were stuck with Real files being all over the net in the 90's. I just hope silverlight doesn't take off,because after feeling threatened by Vista hatred and the netbooks showing up out of left field with Linux running on them I'm betting they really feel the need to lock-in everyone to Windows with a new format. Lets face it,MSFT has never really gotten the web,but getting folks locked into Windows,that they understand. I'm betting if silverlight stomps flash and takes over web video that a year or so down the line they'll come out with a new version that "requires a subset of features only available on Windows Presentation Foundation,which is currently available only on Windows Vista and Windows 7. Please use a compatible Operating System to view this site." And that will be that.

      What we need is someone in the OSS community to come up with a completely free and open standard net video format to compete with flash/silverlight. It should run on all the major platforms(Windows,Linux,MacOSX,BSD) and have free editors,converters,etc,and finally have a better picture to size ratio than flash or silverlight. Then everyone could enjoy the Internet multimedia content,regardless of browser or OS. But asking for a non buggy flash,when the Windows version which is their bread and butter is buggy,is just pointless. But as always this is my 02c,YMMV

  • Half-broken (Score:3, Informative)

    by alexgieg (948359) <alexgieg@gmail.com> on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:46PM (#24636497) Homepage

    I experienced frequent Firefox crashes due to Flash in my Ubuntu box, which went being upgraded from 6.06 to 7.04 to 7.10 to 8.04. But then my hard disk crashed and I had to reinstall Ubuntu 8.04 from scratch. It's been now three months of this fresh installation, and in this period Flash has never, ever, crashed my Firefox. It's been rock solid.

    My wild guess then would be that your setup is half-broken much like mine was. Try that old Windows trick of wiping your hard disk and reinstalling your Linux distribution, whatever it is. It might be the solution.

    Now, this doesn't mean Flash in Linux isn't still full of bugs. It not respecting transparencies and correct depth levels in pages is a major annoyance. But at least crashing isn't part of the list anymore, at least for me.

  • by Zombie Ryushu (803103) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:46PM (#24636511)

    They just don't care because there are no real competitors to Flash. For most mainstream sites today, Flash is mandatory. (And no amount of boycott will change that.)

    I think the best way to fix this is by subversion and infiltration. Boycotts don't work. They haven't worked with Vista and won't work with Flash.

    The Linux community needs to stop thinking it can "boycott" things like protocols, and file formats and instead, work to make alternate applications that can work with those file formats and protocols to eat the other guy's lunch.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by calc (1463)

      There are already at least two applications that do this: swfdec and gnash.

      http://swfdec.freedesktop.org/wiki/ [freedesktop.org]

      http://www.gnashdev.org/ [gnashdev.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      No, I'd say my own personal boycott of Vista is working quite nicely as its resulted in me not running Vista. I guess it works in the same way that I'm 'boycotting' Ferrari and a dumpster full of sour cream.
    • by johndierks (784521) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @03:58PM (#24637361)
      I'm a flash developer and I'll be the first to admit that the format has some major drawbacks.

      The parent is correct though, there are no viable alternatives to the format. Nothing I know of provides the kinds of experience that flash is capable is. (see this site [gettheglass.com]) Advertising drives the consumer side of the web and advertisers aren't going to move to less interactive or more static mediums. It also doesn't hurt that flash has a 99% penetration.

      If there was a better platform with good penetration, while maintaining the ability to build rich interactivity, I'd be the first to jump.
  • by Rosyna (80334) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:49PM (#24636539) Homepage
    I suggest the read of penguin.swf blogosplat [adobe.com] which is Adobe's blog for posting new version of flash for linux (such as the recent Flash 10 beta or the new alpha)
  • by HomerJ (11142) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:49PM (#24636549)

    You'll have Pulseaudio tell you different, but if you use a pure Alsa for your sound, you'll find Flash--and everything else that uses sound--runs MUCH better.

    I have no idea why Pulseaudio has been thrust into various distributions, it's cumbersome at best, outright broken at worst. There's nothing Pulseaudio brings to the table that's needed. Application volume sliders? Anything that outputs volume already has a volume slider, why do I need another one? Sound over the network? Is this REALLY a feature people want at the expense of a huge majority of programs not working? And what's wrong with ESD for this?

    So do yourself a favor, and remove all the Pulseaudio stuff from your distro.

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:50PM (#24636553)
    Since switching to a 64-bit version of Ubuntu, I've been getting flashbacks to Win 3.1 and the trials and tribulations of installing printers and other drivers.

    far from the now mature process of download/click/wait/enjoy, the process involved getting just the right software version, installing it manually in the correct location, maybe hacking around with .INI files and then crossing your fingers that the mean-time-between-crashes was longer than the time it took to print your document.

    So it is with installing flash on FF3/U_x64. The process basically sucks and as said, provides a sufficiently bad user experience to turn normal people off Linux for years.

  • Probably... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quadelirus (694946) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:50PM (#24636557)
    "I really do have to suspect Adobe's motivation for keeping Flash on Linux in such a deplorable state."

    This is an irksome statement. I doubt Adobe has an interest in making Linux look bad. Isn't there a saying, "never ascribe to malice what can be explained by incompetence."

    Probably what would work better here is, "never ascribe to malice what can be explained by business sense." Linux is 4%ish of the desktop market so it would make sense that 4% (or less, but certainly not more) of Adobe flash development go to linux porting. 4% of their development just isn't going to make Flash as good as it is on other platforms, and I doubt they are receiving a lot of money from linux distros to change this.

    Yeah it sucks if you use linux but no need to point a finger at Adobe. Its simple dollars and cents (or sense).
  • by speedtux (1307149) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:50PM (#24636563)

    Flash doesn't work completely reliably on any platform I have tried. I find that Adobe Flash on 32bit Linux works about as well as the OS X version (meaning: it's usable but it does have occasional problems).

    The main problem people are having is that there is no 64bit Linux version of Flash, so all you can do is run it in some emulated environment.

  • by Max_Abernethy (750192) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:50PM (#24636567) Homepage
    Adobe cares about the folks buying expensive site and server licenses. Those guys don't really care about you because there aren't enough of ya to have much impact on their website's success, so why should adobe invest in your platform, besides the bare minimum quality implementation as a hedge in case desktop linux becomes more important some day. There's no economic incentive.
  • what does it say (Score:3, Insightful)

    by larry bagina (561269) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:51PM (#24636583) Journal

    What does it say if Adobe only has 1 employee (if that) working on the linux Flash port and he's doing a better job than GNASH and open source development?

    If you really feel so strongly about Flash's importance, maybe you should help turn GNASH into a viable solution.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bogtha (906264)

      What does it say if Adobe only has 1 employee (if that) working on the linux Flash port and he's doing a better job than GNASH and open source development?

      Do you think that employee started from scratch? The reason why that "1 employee" is outperforming GNASH is because all he had to do was add Linux support to an existing codebase, while GNASH has to write everything from scratch.

  • by HomerJ (11142) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:58PM (#24636691)

    There's various bug reports about this with regards to Pulseaudio and Flash--as well as numerous othat applications--in all major distributions that have packaged Pulseaudio by default. I'm not going to link all the bug reports in a slashdot comment, but you can search for them yourself.

    The story and summary seems to be calling out Adobe on this issue, when it's not really their fault. If PA didn't have as many compatibility issues with alsa applications as it has, Flash would work fine.

    It's unfair to call out Adobe on this issue. It expects a working alsa implementation, and when it has to use Pluseaudio's version of the virtual device, it crashes. Adobe doesn't have any control over the faultily implementation. So if there's a story that's about Flash crashing fine, but let's put the blame where it belongs here.

  • by Niten (201835) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @03:20PM (#24636923)

    One in every three or four YouTube videos crashes the browser.

    Of course the ideal solution would be for Adobe to fix Flash, but in the meantime you can use nspluginwrapper [beauchesne.info] to prevent Firefox from crashing whenever Flash goes down. nspluginwrapper runs Flash in a separate child process from the web browser, and uses IPC to display the plugin's contents in your browser; it was originally created to allow people to use 32-bit plugins in 64-bit browsers, but this mechanism is also great for isolating the web browser from plugin crashes.

    Another solution is to use Opera, which on Linux runs its plugins in an nspluginwrapper-like child process by default.

  • by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @03:25PM (#24637001)

    Flash is even broken on Windows and OSX

    Maybe not as broken as you find it on Linux, but when it comes to sucking performance for no reason or doing really stupid things like cropping video when flipping to full screen video it has some rather hugh problems. (Multi-Monitors is something Adobe thinks people don't use for watching Flash Video apparently, cause it looks very untested.)

    Sadly, Flash with Firefox is 10x worse than Flash with IE. After thinking I was going insane on a few new personal installs, I pulled techs to examine the Flash differences. Same sites, same Flash content, and inside Firefox it would bring the CPU to 100% and with IE not even scratch the CPU.

    These are also not lemur porn quality sites, these are mainstream sites that have Flash based Ads or even MSNBC which has not moved to Silverlight.

    In contrast, the new Silverlight is pretty, efficient and shiny in comparison on both Firefox and IE and even OS X. The NBC Olympic HD streaming it has been handling works better than even my Silverlight developer 'fans' expected, making Flash look problematic and more like an old dog.

  • by kroyd (29866) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @03:36PM (#24637125)
    I had the "flash crashes a lot problem", so I did some research. My first try was to use ndiswrapper. This doesn't fix the problem, at best it makes the flash applet frame grey when it would have crashed the browser. Also, I'm not sure how it works with flash 10. What solved my problems was to follow the update in bugreport 192888 [launchpad.net]

    i.e, remove libflashsupport, use the latest flash 10 beta and create a /etc/asound.conf as described in bug 198453 [launchpad.net]

    I've not had any browser crashes since doing this, so cross fingers. This is probably a very common problem..

  • by dyftm (880762) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @03:37PM (#24637133)
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showpost.php?p=5587712&postcount=472 [ubuntuforums.org]. This guy has for a long time been working on getting flash working perfectly in ubuntu 8.04 and following the linked guide makes it work perfectly for me.
  • by psyke83 (1346317) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @04:36PM (#24637735)

    The original poster of this article is experiencing bugs with his or her distribution, *not* merely with Flash. There are several issues at work here.

    a) Flash 10 RC is the first version to support "windowless mode" flash content that several sites use. Unfortunately, there is a bug in Firefox that causes "windowless mode" content to crash. It is not a bug caused by Adobe Flash; un fact, the newest version of swfdec (which also added support for "windowless mode" content) also causes Firefox to crash. This fix is due for release in Firefox 3.0.2 and a workaround is available for older releases already. See: https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/239182 [launchpad.net]

    b) Ubuntu Hardy was the first release to integrate PulseAudio, but its default configuration can cause a lot of trouble for users. PulseAudio provides ALSA plugins that enable plain ALSA applications to work correctly with PulseAudio; these plugins are supposed to be enabled by default. Some (buggy) applications do not work correctly using these plugins, including Flash 9 and Audacity. Hardy was released without these plugin enabled, causing many audio mixing problems for users. See: https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/198453 [launchpad.net]

    c) It appears the original poster is using the libflashsupport library, which is a workaround to enable PulseAudio support in Flash without the need for the ALSA plugins mentioned in point (b) to be enabled. There is a bug in Flash when using the libflashsupport API; closing and opening new flash streams will result in a crash (such as navigating from one Youtube page to another). See: https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/192888 [launchpad.net]

    d) Flash 10 has fixed its ALSA implementation, allowing it to work correctly with the PulseAudio ALSA plugins as mentioned in point (b) - this means that the (buggy) libflashsupport library is now redundant.

    Note that all the above bugs contain links to the upstream issues when applicable. For those too lazy to follow the individual bugs, I have posted a guide to configure PulseAudio (and Flash 10) correctly for Ubuntu users, complete with testing packages. See: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=789578 [ubuntuforums.org]

  • by Alex Belits (437) * on Sunday August 17, 2008 @05:12PM (#24638069) Homepage

    I am not a fan of Flash, however I have not seen any problems with Flash on Linux since they ended the enormous version lag that broken some sites when Windows hd flash 8 and Linux port stopped development at 7. Flash on Linux is a massive resource eater, has idiotic installation procedure, often has to be updated because of security bugs, however it has exactly the same problems on Windows. It is more crappy and unfixable than most Linux software, however this says more about the level of quality that is considered acceptable on Windows rather than about any deficiencies specific to a Linux port.

    As for Youtube, why would a Linux user want to use their flash-based player? Install latest version of clive, mplayer and xclip, and run this script after selecting or copying Youtube URL:

    #!/bin/sh
    cd "$HOME"
    cd Desktop 2>/dev/null
    xterm -bg "#ffffff" -fg "#000000" -cr "#800000" -ah -fa "DejaVu Sans Mono" -fs 14 -g 80x6 -T "Video Download" \
    -e sh -c \
    'xclip -o | clive "--player=mplayer -fs %i" --play=src --mask=custom'

    (assign it to some panel launcher or menu in your desktop environent).

    • Re:What problems? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by evilviper (135110) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:03AM (#24641363) Journal

      As for Youtube, why would a Linux user want to use their flash-based player? Install latest version of clive, mplayer and xclip, and run this script after selecting or copying Youtube URL

      This is the biggest problem with FLV. You need a website-specific script just to FIND the videos in question. Certainly, there are several apps that can handle YouTube, but 95% of the FLV videos I would ever care to watch are embedded on other, smaller websites like, eg. GorillaMask.

      IMHO, we need some kind of SWF plug-in, but not the monsterous, slow bloated beast that is GNASH. An SWF plug-in stripped down to absolutely nothing, that runs when it encounters an embed=file.swf, then it's only task is to look for the media player strings, find the pointer to the FLV filename, and launch MPlayer with that URL (of the actual FLV file).

      With a tiny fraction as much development effort as something like GNASH, and practically no system resources, every FLV video out there becomes easily accessible on Linux, FreeBSD, ReactOS, BeOS, on x86, PPC, ARM, MIPS, et al.

      IMHO, Adobe screwed this up horribly... With H.264 support, they could have leap-frogged Microsoft's WMV, and become the ubiquitous format for web playback. However, they, instead, are working AGAINST 3rd parties that also included H.264/MP4, by not embedding the file directly, and forcing websites to include it, hidden behind an SWF "player" that simple obfusticates the actual file, and makes it impossible for other apps to get at, on the off chance they DON'T have the latest version of Flash installed (it'll be a few years before everyone upgrades to v9+). But instead of that, they force websites to provide TWO different web pages if they want compatibility... One for Flash, one for every other video player in the world. Unfortunately, of course, the easiest way out is to just create the Flash page, and screw everybody else over, which is what most sites do, YouTube included. Google Video was smart enough to included a download link, but they are the exceptions, and a direct link to the Flash file would be just as good.

  • by Ilgaz (86384) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @06:32PM (#24638845) Homepage

    I know lots of people will smile when reading this comment but I actually report issues to Adobe, especially alpha/beta testing Flash 10. They are NOT very communicative but I see some stuff I reported has been fixed. I am also on PowerPC (still) which MS overlords decided to drop support as early as Silverlight 2.

    Another issue with closed source/large company software is, they can't include "crash reporter" so they don't actually know who crashes doing what. It is problem on OS X too but at least we send them to Apple, I don't know what Apple does with them though. For that part, also thank to paranoids and conspiracy theorists. They can obviously have "crash dump" code attached and next day, you would see "Adobe spies on their Linux users!!!" type of story.

    Anyway, if you know a specific site triggering crash, you better report to Adobe. Linux is _very_ important to them in light of recent developments. If they didn't care, you wouldn't see Flash 10 beta shipped for Linux.

    For "Real Networks" and "Adobe", realistic companies not spoiled like Microsoft, Linux support is passport to "devices" and somehow OSX/future iPhone. Don't think they don't care.

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