24 September 2008

Swfdec 0.8: Open Source Flash

Raise your hand if you've had issues with Flash on Linux. Er, let's try this again. Raise your hand if you haven't had issues with Flash on Linux. That's a bit easier to count, now isn't it?

Supposedly Flash is much much hairier if you use 64bit Linux, because Adobe only releases 32bit plugins. I decided that instead of dealing with nspluginwrapper and then needing libflashsupport to work around the issues with Flash+PulseAudio, I'd just try Swfdec. There's a 64bit version available. Yay! It turns out it's actually pretty good. The most important test is that it can do YouTube without a hitch. Oh yeah, bonus: It's like having FlashBlock installed because it turns all Flash items into a play button (the arrow) so no more annoying, loud, auto-playing things. Awesome.

However, I quickly found a problem with using it on 64bit Hardy: no sound, even with libflashsupport. The 64bit sound drivers use mmap while the 32bit don't, and the version in Hardy doesn't like that. The version in Intrepid (0.7.4) is perfectly happy, though. So, I compiled Intrepid's for Hardy. And then it was happy.

Now something better has happened. St├ęphane Marguet has libswfdec-0.8-1 in his PPA. The cool thing about Swfdec 8 is that it doesn't require libflashsupport. They've worked out how to get sound, even on 64bit, without any helper apps. And yes, this works on Hardy's version of ALSA as well as Intrepid's. Oh, and yes, I can use Rhythmbox at the same time. Please remember, though, since it's from a PPA, do not report bugs in it to Launchpad. It's not actually supported in Ubuntu.

Swfdec isn't perfect. Sites done totally in Flash are sometimes a bit funny, and Google Street View doesn't work, but it's getting there. And hey, that annoying thing where on certain sites you can't reach the menus because they hide behind Adobe Flash's nasty always-on-top behaviour? Gone. Swfdec obeys z-index.


Sr Xavi said...

Really nice and interesting post. Never intended to use Swfdec in my 64bit machine because I thought it was not working. In fact, not counting that some sites are "funny" as you say, it runs better than flash player 32bit + nspluginwrapper.

Marius Gedminas said...

Does it work with PulseAudio?

Anonymous said...

For six months I howled when my browser crashed. I even switched from Firefox to Epiphany in hope it would crash less (it does crash less - but the nspluginwrapper crashes still exist).

Then I found swfdec.

YAY \o/ for swfdec. I lubz it.

Benjamin said...

Hey, thanks for the positive review. Glad you like my software. And yeah, Swfdec is a completely Free Software project, so we can (and do) ensure we work well with other projects and on a wide variety of hardware. And @marius: Yes, Swfdec works fine with PulseAudio in all versions newer than the one in Hardy.

Here's a hidden gem, that is somewhat hard to discover:
If you dislike the Flashblock-like behavior, you can right-click any Flash file, select "Autoplay" and toggle the "always" or "never" button. It will globally change how Flash files are autoplayed.
You can also right-click -> pause a Flash file you accidentally started, and it will be paused the next time ou visit the site.

ffm said...


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