[conspire] help with adobe flash I can't watch my "good stuff" videos online/

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri Dec 28 13:14:33 PST 2007

Quoting jose tav (josetav at hotmail.com):

> just tell me where I have
> to download from and how to install it, maybe:
> apt-get flash
> install (?)

Jose, Adobe Flash (formerly Macromedia Flash, Adobe having bought the
other company in 2005) has always been restricted proprietary software.
To my knowledge, no Linux distribution has permission to include the
proprietary Flash interpreter and related browser plugin.  However, most
x86 distros have semi-automated methods to fetch that bundle (currently,
Flash v. 9) from Adobe/Macromedia's download site, and insert/integrate
it into the running system.  Each such distro has a slightly different
tool for that purpose.  Unfortunately, you didn't identify your
distribution, so it's difficult to give you specific advice.

On Debian, you enable the non-free package repository (if it isn't
already), and do "apt-get install flash-nonfree".

On Ubuntu and related distros, you enable the multiverse package
repository (if it isn't already), and do "sudo aptitude install
flashplugin-nonfree".  This page has more:

As an alternative to the proprietary Abode Flash 9 software, there are
several open-source reimplementations of the Flash language, the two
furthest along being Gnash and Swfdec.  Both on some Flash animations
but not others, and Gnash in particular grabs enormous amounts of RAM.
The main problem is that Adobe Systems, Inc. refuses to make available
specifications for any recent version of the Flash language except under
NDA.  So, open source / free software efforts such as Gnash and Swfdec
are obliged to reverse-engineer newer (post-v.7) features and support
them after figuring them out.

Here is Robin Miller explaining the (nasty) post-v.7 problem in greater
detail: http://www.linux.com/articles/114246
Essentially, post-v.7 Flash is a completely different animal, dependent
on an extremely proprietary codec that Macromedia / Abobe chose to
license from a highly uncooperative company, On2 Technologies, instead
of the much less restricted alternative, the H.264 codec.

This outcome isn't really surprising:  Both Adobe and Macromedia have
always been control-freak companies, ultimately hostile to open source
/ free software platforms and solutions -- and they have a near-total
stranglehold over Flash v. 8 and v. 9 for the foreseeable future. 

Current status of Swfdec a/o v. 0.5.5:  works on Youtube and Lulu.tv.
Ability to play MySpace videos isn't quite there yet, as JavaScript
support still needs to be tweaked.  

Current status of Gnash a/o v. 0.8.1:  works on YouTube, MySpace,
ShowMeDo FLV (Flash Video) files, will play SWF (Shockware Flash --
animated vector graphics) files up to version 7, as well as some
features of the newer version 8 and 9 files.

> Another question:
>  What is the *mínimum*
> size Linux-preferable PC-Linux (I guess) I can run from a Flash
> drive?. 

Well, Damn Small Linux and Feather Linux were among the tiny distros
designed with the specific aim of fitting on the smallest possible 
USB flash drive.  

"Small Linux" on http://linuxmafia.com/kb/Admin/ also lists other

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