MAR
8
2008

Adobe Flash on Linux is crap, will it damage the brand?

I recently upgraded from Kubuntu Feisty to Gutsy, and all went well apart from one thing. Konqueror began putting up a crash dialog everytime it accessed a site with Flash, making it pretty much unusable. In fact until I had this problem I didn't realise quite how many pages on the web use Flash.

So I searched for more info about the problem and found Lubos Lunak's blog Why Flash sucks, which described what went wrong. He says "The latest Flash update does not work with anything that is not Gecko-based." Well that's that then; they really don't seem to care about Konqueror support. Then I went and had a look at the blog about Linux Flash on the Adobe site. It actually reads more like a series of press releases than a blog, because the author doesn't appear interact with the readers of the blog and their comments

See the comments on the blog about the latest release of Flash for Linux, there are 107 comments and about 95% of them are pretty hostile and pissed off. It reminded me of all the comments on the Internet Explorer 8 blog - some poor developer was having to put up with piles of totally exasperated developers who were sick of wasting their time dealing with problems in the utterly inadequate IE6/IE7 browsers. Flash is being developed very slowly, it has major bugs (greatly increased CPU usage and crashes for instance), it doesn't run on all platforms. A bit like IE really.

I read about a work round where you could install an older version of the Flash plugin for Konqueror to use, while Firefox picked up the newer buggy one. That didn't seem a good idea, and would only prolong the agony. So I found out about the gnash plugin for Konqueror, did an apt-get install, and bingo! no crashes anymore. Fixfox still works with the Adobe version of Flash and I can use that for when Konqueror doesn't work.

Until this experience I had a very high regard for Adobe, technologies like PDF and Postscript are excellent and also well documented to allow for alternative implementations. In contrast Flash doesn't work well, and doesn't have an open specification, and not only that, but they are about the add DRM, digital restrictions management to it. I have no problem with Adobe selling proprietary technology as long as they don't attempt to privatise public infrastructure like the web. I think it is very important to avoid AIR as it is based on the same dodgy proprietary foundations as Flash. Something like Qt with Javascript bindings (or QtRuby even) combined with WebKit can probably do everything you can do in AIR in the way of writing stand alone 'webby' apps. And Plasma also allows you to integrate the desktop better via widgets, which Air doesn't do.

When Sony added a root kit to some of their CDs and then didn't apologise afterwards, that pretty much 100% destroyed the brand as far as I was concerned - they totally lost my trust. I don't think the Adobe Flash is as bad, but it probably has knocked 20-30% off the brand value from my point of view, and reinforced my idea that no public infrastructure should depend on non-Free software as it just isn't suitable for that

Comments

And it becomes even worse if you have an amd64 system :-(

But don't forgett that Flash is not an Adobe invention. It used to be Macromedia some time ago. I hoped that it would become better when it is an Adobe brand - up to now I'm very disappointed. That Flash does not work in Konqueror any more is just frustrating. And up to now Gnash is - at least for me - not a real alternative. I hope it will be better in Hardy ;-)


By graesslin at Sat, 03/08/2008 - 10:25

I don't think it will ever be "better".Flash is abomination, it is cancer of the Web. the onlyreason Youtube and others went with it (and kicked of such wild adoption of Flash is that other waysof multimedia embedding suck soooooooooobad it makes Flash look like pony,


By ceesaxp at Sun, 03/09/2008 - 20:23

I don't know Kubuntu, but openSUSE fixed Konqueror to work with the last Adobe Flash in less than a week.
Right now I'm using Adoble Flash 9.0 r115 on Konqueror x86-64 without problems.


By cool at Sat, 03/08/2008 - 11:05

OK, that sounds good. Do you know if the fix is in the KDE svn so it can be picked up by the Kubuntu guys?

Even if SUSE have managed to fix the problem, as far as I'm concerned the closed development process is broken, and I'll carry using Gnash (or swfdec if that works better) with Konqueror.


By Richard Dale at Sat, 03/08/2008 - 11:13

I don't know the details. But when I said "openSUSE fixed" I mean "openSUSE submitted a fixed package"... I don't know who created the fix, but I'm pretty sure it's in KDE SVN.
The problem is in KDE Bugzilla: http://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=132138 like "FIXED".
And KDE people that knows better started working on a fix pretty soon: http://www.kdedevelopers.org/node/3162

So sound pretty rare to me that Kubuntu hasn't the fix. But *if* they haven't it's their fault.


By cool at Sat, 03/08/2008 - 12:06

Fixed in 3.5.9. With 3.5.8, you can avoid a chunk of the crashes at least by setting up UA faking as mozilla for "nspluginviewer" hostname, but it's unlikely to make it work.


By Maksim Orlovich at Sun, 03/09/2008 - 22:29

Not that it makes Flash any less crap but, because the old version has a major security risk, you can find a fix here:
http://mikearthur.co.uk/2007/12/30/konqueror-with-latest-adobe-flash-howto/

(Please excuse the self-promotion, I thought it would be genuinely useful to you.)


By Mike Arthur at Sat, 03/08/2008 - 11:54

I know the pain ...especially using an amd64 system (Gentoo) :P

What I've done is this:
* Konqueror with Gnash/Klash (also added a few *.swf entries into Konqi's AdBlock ;) hehe )
* Firefox (32bit!) with Macromedia's Flash

This makes me use the basic flash in Konqueror and the ability to "experience it in the full" in Firefox, when I really need it to (e.g. when my brother or girlfriend want me to watch YouTube or something :P)

I'm wondering ...is there any news on the KPart front of SwfDec?


By hook at Sat, 03/08/2008 - 14:49

Welcome to the party. Some of us have been here for quite a while. If you think it's bad on Linux, try using it on FreeBSD or OpenSolaris! If you're not on an Adobe/Macromedia approved platform, you can't run Flash.

The core of the problem is that Flash is proprietary software. No really, it is! Regardless of one's political views on the matter, when it comes to basic computing infrastructure, closed source software is a major hindrance. Yet Flash has become a basic necessary component of the web's infrastructure. Adobe can now tell us what operating system, web browser, and even CPU to use. What is sad is that users of the most popular Free Software operating system don't see anything wrong with that.

We need to pressure Adobe into opening their Flash plugin and player. We pressured Sun into opening Java, and pressured AMD into releasing Radeon specs. We can do it with Adobe and Flash as well/

</rant>


By David Johnson at Sat, 03/08/2008 - 18:03

I'm not a Flash fan, and it's unfortunate that it doesn't work properly in Konkeror, but in Firefox I have absolutely no issues, in fact, it has improved. Now there's better audio/video synchronization, full-screen support and H.264.


By felipec at Mon, 03/17/2008 - 10:26

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