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 Post subject: Horrors of portability
PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 7:21 pm 
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Reptile House Exhibit
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I'm kinda ashamed to admit this, but I'm currently running desktop Linux as my main OS. (This is somewhat accidental, what with the recent death of my newer, dual-booting box...I can explain further if you want to know.)

I'm less ashamed to admit that I'm a fan of Homestar Runner. Put the two together, and you can guess that I've tried to use Macromedia's Flash player for Linux. Emphasis on "tried."

The Linux Flash player is hideously buggy, and brings Firefox to a crashing halt on what feels like half the Flash ads in existence. This is an indictment of both Mozilla and Macromedia, but neither seems poised to change any time soon. To make it impossible for plugins to crash the browser would require a complete overhaul of the Firefox plugin model. And to fix the Flash player for Linux...well...

The above blog post explains why porting Flash to Linux--or, for that matter, anything besides 32-bit Windows--is so hopelessly complicated that it's a wonder the Linux release has ever seen the light of day. Mac OS X users should consider themselves extremely lucky.

Flash has the double-whammy of containing lots of optimized assembly code and being a multimedia application; the Macromedia legal team's insistence on avoiding any GPL or LGPL application components makes things even harder. (GPL avoidance is obvious, but how exactly do you write a non-trivial Linux app that doesn't link to glibc? Which, I might add, ldd tells me that the Flash player does.)

Being the mere amateur coder/"egghead academician" that I am, I haven't really had much experience with code portability. Have the rest of you got any comments?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 8:09 pm 
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Flash is a plague on the internet. Homestarrunner is one of maybe five sites on the whole internet that uses flash for something other than: A) annoying the crap out of the user with flashy bullshit that could just as easily be done in CSS or, horror of horrors, HTML. B) Ads.

You're better off without it. Count your blessings.

Sorry about the homestarrunner, though.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 8:12 pm 
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Guardian of Eeps and Pings
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Location: If you read this, in your monitor...
Oh, and one of those sites that needs flash is Comcast.net

Yes, without flash, you get this lovely screen (9 times out of ten) that gives you a link to go download it.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 8:16 pm 
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I had flash working perfectly with homestar runner in Ubuntu Hoary, but when I upgraded to Ubuntu Breezy, it broke and I haven't expended the time to fix it yet...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 9:12 pm 
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Reptile House Exhibit
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Oh, I agree completely. H*R demonstrates that Flash could be so much more than it is (have you played Stinkoman? wow!), but most of it doesn't get above "punch the monkey" and sites that should have been in HTML.

I've written a couple of shell scripts to rename the Flash plugin to things Firefox can and can't find, allowing me to activate and deactivate the plugin at any time. I think I'll stick with it even if Macromedia does manage to pull off a miracle and write a decent Flash-for-Linux. I'd just use the FlashBlock plugin, but that, sadly, is even less stable than the player.

(Also an Ubuntu Breezy user here, after getting pissed off at the datedness of Debian Sarge and the instability of Debian Etch. Flash seemed to be less stable on Ubuntu, oddly enough.)

I was a bit more interested in your reactions to the software engineering bit, but oh well.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2005 12:19 am 
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High Roller
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Pi wrote:
Flash is a plague on the internet. Homestarrunner is one of maybe five sites on the whole internet that uses flash for something other than: A) annoying the crap out of the user with flashy bullshit that could just as easily be done in CSS or, horror of horrors, HTML. B) Ads.


C) Animutations.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2005 9:29 pm 
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The Crossover plugin, which is WINE-based, allows Mozilla-for-Linux to run Mozilla-for-Windows plugins. It does cost money though. How much, I'm not sure.

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"I remember the first time I got laid. There was nothing but darkness at
first. Then movement, coming in fits and starts. Then I felt a weird
urge, and used my sharp beak to break free of that damnable prison."
—— Karim Rashad, in rec.martial-arts


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