&*%!£ Flash

I just lost my browser and my entire desktop, AGAIN, while watching a video. This is an all-too-regular occurrence. Flash is the top cause of crashes on Linux – and has been among the top causes since Firefox 3.

When, oh when, will someone ship a browser I can use that can show me video without needing the Flash plugin?

16 thoughts on “&*%!£ Flash

  1. It’s not the browser, it’s webmasters. They could use normal embedded video, but since Windows and Mac OS have horrible proprietary plugins, they don’t. Meantime you could try Gnash.

    The main reason people use Flash, though, is because people like you have it installed already. If you don’t like poor proprietary software, don’t use it. I s’pose HTML 5’s ‘video’ has the potential to help.

  2. I use both Fx3.0 and 3.5 with the same profile, on 64 bits arch. And flash 64bits. As there is no Fx3.5 64bits yet, I saw Flash became very instable since RC1.

    I agree with you, Flash is bad coded, but i believe using it in full 64bits, without nsplugin will be a little bit better.

  3. reisio: Despite Rob Savoye complaining every time I meet him that the number one question everyone asks him about Gnash is “when will YouTube work?”, yet he said he’s had it working for ages, I have not yet come across a HowTo which shows me how to set it up. As for <video> and a better browser, wait just a few more hours :-)

    Da Scritch: I’m using normal 32-bit Flash.

  4. Do you have libflashsupport installed? From this thread:

    3. Ensure the evil “libflashsupport” library is not installed:

    $ sudo apt-get remove –purge libflashsupport flashplugin-nonfree-extrasound

    Note: the libflashsupport library was (and to a certain extent, still is) the most common cause of Firefox instability since the Hardy release, because many users have been misled into thinking they must install it to ensure Flash & PulseAudio can work correctly. If you notice any postings that recommend this library to be installed, please reply to the post and point them to this thread, or the bug report linked. The more people that are aware of this issue the better. Thanks!

  5. glandium: That too, I freely admit :-)

    Kim: Thanks for the tip, but:

    Package libflashsupport is not installed, so not removed
    Package flashplugin-nonfree-extrasound is not installed, so not removed

  6. If all you care about is watching Youtube videos, swfdec works fine. It also works on quite a few other sites, but not all. And best of all, it never crashes.

    But if you care about all the video and Flash sites that exist out there, then it’s your fault for either not improving your browser earlier or for not helping the Free Flash players.

  7. Thanks to Benjamin for the swfdec recommendation. I’d set up a new machine with Ubuntu 9.04 yesterday and been saddened at having to install Flash after my first choice of using the Totem Youtube plugin, and second choice of Gnash failed to work. I even gave the m.youtube.com site a shot before caving and installing Flash, happy to uninstall it now and look forward to missing it even less when Ubuntu 9.10 comes out.

    With the advent of HTML5 audio and video it really is time for mainstream linux to make a move against Adobe Flash. A good start would be letting more advanced users pick which Flash plugins to use on site-by-site basis. This would increase usage and testing of the alternatives where they mostly work and one of the options (preferably the default) would be to declare yourself as not having any Flash at all.

  8. > When, oh when, will someone ship a browser I can use
    > that can show me video without needing the Flash plugin?

    *shrug*. If there’s a better way for users to watch video, without the plugin, there will always be websites insist on the plugin anyway.

    Come to think of it, that’s the current state of affairs I’ve just described. I remember when if you wanted to show people a video on the web you put an MPEG up (on an ftp server or on the web server, either way) and linked to it. Hey, it worked. Still works today. Really, try it. Works great. As far as I am aware, there’s no such thing as a desktop-oriented operating system that doesn’t ship, out of the box, with something that can play MPEGs. What do we need Flash for, again? (The only reason I can come up with is, YouTube uses it, so it must be cool. Either that, or the webmasters want the user to think the video is actually part of the web page so they can be even more confused about what’s going on than usual.)

    The question I’ve been asking, since before Flash got popular, is, “When, oh when, is somebody going to ship a browser that doesn’t crash when a plugin crashes?”

    Yeah, I know, that’s harder to do. It would probably mean changing the whole design of the interface between the plugin and the rest of the program, and that means all the third-party plugin vendors would have to write to the new interface, which they won’t do until the browser in question has significant market share, which it won’t have until the major plugins work, which they won’t do until the vendors write to the new interface. I know all that.

    But it’s what’s needed. Flash isn’t always going to be the problem plugin. Previously it was Java, (or, for those who were unfortunate enough to use it, QuickTime). Maybe in five years it’ll be Shockwave, or Silverlight, or Spakkel, or SocialFX, or Shinobi, or RésuméBob, or MoshiMoshi, or DanceDaag. Who knows? The point is, third-party plugins are always going to be a potential cause of crashes. Best thing to do, when a plugin crashes, is repaint its part of the page with a “the plugin crashed, click here to try to restart” widget.

  9. If you lost your entire desktop, it sounds like the problem is your video driver, not flash per se. I used to be able to say with high certainty that this indicated an nvidia driver, but it is (sadly) perfectly plausible in a modern distro that this is happening with basically any video card.

  10. Hi Gervase, are you in any particular kind of environment, using any particular version of Adobe Flash Players for Linux, watching in any particular conditions (fullscreen, background processing, etc)?

    I don’t want a config-dump, but knowing things like beta-against-beta, 64-bit, fullscreen, background-processing, all those could provide context on what you’re seeing before reaching such an uncharacteristic four-letter judgment.


  11. Hey, jd – thanks for caring. :-)

    I’m currently using Firefox 3.5 final on 32-bit Ubuntu 9.04. I use Flashblock, so I normally don’t have much Flash going on at once, although I do sometimes have it in the background. Now that I look, about:plugins tells me I’m using Shockwave Flash 10.0 r12. The Flash player Download Centre suggests is the newest, so I should probably upgrade! I’ll do that straight away.


  12. FYI, this blog post b0rked the mozillazine feedhouse feed due to the ampersand in the title.

  13. FYI, this blog post b0rked the mozillazine feedhouse feed due to the ampersand in the title.

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