Flash: better without Flash

Remember my previous post about a problem with Flash in Firefox/Iceweasel? Now the second part.

After following my own instructions, I ended up with a Flash instalation that could play YouTube videos correctly, but some other Flash animations would not work. By chance, my computer at work would reproduce any Flash animation just fine, so… why would that be?

To find out the reason, I have compared what Flash-related packages I have installed in Homer (my computer at work) and Heracles (the one at home). The result is quite surprising:

Homer[~]: aptitude search flash
p   flashplayer-mozilla       - Macromedia Flash Player
p   flashrom                  - Universal flash programming utility
p   flashybrid                - automates use of a flash disk as the root filesystem
p   libflash-dev              - GPL Flash (SWF) Library - development files
p   libflash-mozplugin        - GPL Flash (SWF) Library - Mozilla-compatible plugin
p   libflash-swfplayer        - GPL Flash (SWF) Library - stand-alone player
p   libflash0c2               - GPL Flash (SWF) Library - shared library
p   libroxen-flash2           - Flash2 module for the Roxen Challenger web server
p   m16c-flash                - Flash programmer for Renesas M16C and R8C microcontrollers
p   vrflash                   - tool to flash kernels and romdisks to Agenda VR
Homer[~]: aptitude search swf
p   libflash-swfplayer        - GPL Flash (SWF) Library - stand-alone player
p   libswf-perl               - Ming (SWF) module for Perl
p   libswfdec-0.5-4           - SWF (Macromedia Flash) decoder library
p   libswfdec-0.5-4-dbg       - SWF (Macromedia Flash) decoder library
p   libswfdec-0.5-dev         - SWF (Macromedia Flash) decoder library
v   libswfdec-dev             -
p   pyvnc2swf                 - screen recording tool to SWF movie
v   swf-player                -
p   swfdec-mozilla            - Mozilla plugin for SWF files (Macromedia Flash)
p   swfmill                   - xml2swf and swf2xml processor

Yes, Flash works perfectly at Homer because it has no package installed with swf or flash in their name! And I don’t have any Gnash package installed, either. I removed all swf/flash-related packages on Heracles, and now Flash works perfectly in my home computer too.


  1. Flash player problem in Debian Lenny: “This SWF file is known to trigger bugs in the swfdec decoder.” « handyfloss said,

    January 6, 2008 @ 13:22 pm

    […] Comments Flash: better without Flash « handyfloss on Flash player problem in Debian Lenny: “This SWF file is known to trigger bugs in the […]

  2. Nishu said,

    January 10, 2008 @ 20:21 pm

    Flash websites are awesome ..
    I m currently wording on a ruby on rails website .. would soon start a flash website ..

  3. walken said,

    February 4, 2008 @ 7:31 am

    So you must have *some* player installed – when you play flash videos, can you look up in ‘top’ and see what’s using CPU time ???

    (not having anything installed here, and flash definitely won’t play :)

  4. isilanes said,

    February 4, 2008 @ 9:10 am

    The only thing running is firefox-bin. I only play flash videos with Firefox and with MPlayer, and both seem to work OK without further packages.

  5. mb said,

    February 23, 2008 @ 5:11 am

    Thanks I had the same exact problem. You pointed me to the correct solution.

  6. isilanes said,

    March 1, 2008 @ 19:12 pm

    From this post in my former WP.com blog:

    Ian Ferguson says:

    “None of this worked for me. I deleted all flash files and then installed adobe flash from their website. Now it works perfectly.
    However when i download .flv files totem cant play them and vlc only plays sound. Both could play them in Ubuntu though. Ephiny web browser plays flash without problems too.”

    My answer:

    “Ian, I can’t follow you: where does not Flash work for you? With another Linux distro? (you say that it works in Ubuntu).

    I don’t really claim to understand how or why Flash works. I just say that I have no package with “flash” or “swf” in the name in my Debian computers. Obviously, Firefox might have built-in support, and Flash support could be available through other packages with “codecs” in their name, for example.”

  7. Super Jamie said,

    May 26, 2008 @ 4:52 am

    whilst you might not have a flash player PACKAGE installed as far as aptitude knowns, the files will definitely be there somewhere, probably as a remnant of all your flash/swb/lib/gnash installs/uninstalls

    an about:plugins in the address bar will tell you which flash player you’re using, and the .so file that the plugin uses. i imagine it’ll be nested under /usr/ somewhere

  8. isilanes said,

    May 26, 2008 @ 10:20 am

    Thanks for the info, Super Jamie. I was obviously describing some symptoms, not claiming I understand the underlaying issues :^)

  9. Super Jamie said,

    May 26, 2008 @ 10:29 am

    No problems :)

    I actually just solved my own Flash player problem tonight. I use Swiftfox, which only checks /usr/lib/firefox/ for plugins. Debian installs them under /usr/lib/iceweasel/, which Swiftfox doesn’t check. A link called “firefox” but pointing to “iceweasel” fixed this up for me.

    I suspect this would also be the issue if you were using Firefox (not Iceweasel) under Debian, but installing Iceweasel plugin packages with apt-get/aptitude/synaptic.

  10. Darren said,

    November 3, 2008 @ 0:11 am

    I think in months to come we will see this becoming more common knowledge, as in trying to find a fix for my own similar issues I have read many, many unsolved forum posts describing identical symptoms. (100% CPU, very slow framerate) I haven’t figured out how I managed to install libswfdec without noticing on my home PC, my laptop, *and* my work PC running various flavours of Debian/Ubuntu… but after reading your post, they now all work flawlessly again.

    I did an ‘aptitude search swf’ and removed all flash related packages, then ‘aptitude search flash’ and did the same, then an ‘apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree’ and bingo! Decent flash. The trouble is apparently having multiple flash decoders installed at once.

    Thanks for the pointer!!

  11. Super Jamie said,

    November 3, 2008 @ 0:14 am

    I’m not sure what’s in the repos right now, but Adobe’s own download of Flash 10 is working great for me on all my Ubuntu machines :)

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