Gnash-ing my teeth

20Dec06

I have had Kubuntu linux installed on my Apple G4 laptop for a few months now, and I’ve basically been happy as a kitten with a ball of yarn. I do all of my economics word processing, Internet research, blogging, and even gaming on my G4. I do my email and keep my wine spreadsheet on the G4. It’s been everything I hoped. Except for one problem…

I cannot see Flash animations/movies on my laptop when I’m running linux. Can’t see You Tube, can’t see Daily Show excerpts, can’t even see the little graph from WordPress.com that shows me how many hits I’ve gotten today. I am cut off from internet video when I boot linux on this laptop, and I almost always boot linux.

It’s not a problem with linux or Kubuntu per se. If I fire up my desktop machine, which has an AMD Intel-compatible CPU, then there is no problem. Adobe has released a Flash client for linux on x86 machines. But people who use linux on a PPC machine rather than OSX are apparently just too small a group to bother with. Or something. (Note to self: write letter to Adobe and ask for linux ppc client. You never know, my request might be the one that finally changes their minds.)

I blame Apple. They stayed with the PPC for so long as a way of erecting a barrier between their customers and the competition from Microsoft and the clone computer makers. The PPC gave them a little extra market power, a little extra hurdle that Mac customers would have to leap over in order to leave the Apple universe. Behind this barrier Apple could keep prices high. Apple always depended on the loyalty of the Mac Faithful, of course, but it didn’t hurt to reinforce that loyalty with the awareness that leaving Apple would mean dumping your hardware on top of replacing all of your software. Apple’s customers may have been thinking differently, but Apple itself always thought just like any other oligopolist trying to find ways to trap its customers.

I have to take some responsibility as well. I let my Anything-But-Microsoft feelings delude me into sinking a couple-three thousand dollars into Apple. If you’re into the Lord of the Rings, think of it as swearing allegiance to Saruman because, jeez, at least he isn’t Sauron. It’s not a winning strategy, and now I’m paying the price.

My only hope at this point is the Gnash project. This project is brought to us by virtuous folk who are determinedly building a new, free software Flash client. This is a very good thing in its own right, but most important to me personally, they are supporting the PPC. It is currently only Flash 7 compatible, and there are sound problems (at least with the PPC version), but I will have some chance of being able to see Flash animations. the project page can be found here.

Installing Gnash will be something of a project for me. If I correctly understand the current state of Gnash for PPC (K)Ubuntu, I need to upgrade my version of Kubuntu to 6.10 (Edgy Eft). At that point, I will find deb packages available with the latest version of Gnash. Since linux version upgrades always involve (for me) a certain amount of risk, puzzlement, and work, I think I’ll defer this to the Christmas holiday. But I hope to hit the New Year with some capability of viewing Flash.

— Update —

Okay, I have completed my update to Edgy Eft, and I have installed the packages for Gnash 0.7.2. And it works! But…. the only flash files that it seems to work on are advertisements. I can now see the latest come-ons from Apple, IBM, Intel and Circuit City, wherever I go on the Web. But I still can’t see any of the things I want to see.

Nonetheless, I’m a happier camper than I was before. I have evidence now that the Great Work is moving forward, and those of us who stay strong in the Faith will be rewarded. I know that God doesn’t really want me to blow another couple of thousand dollars on an X86 laptop when my G4 still works great, and that this time on the cross is just a part of His/Her/Its holy plan to shatter the Dark Windows forever, and bring the light of free and open source salvation to the masses.

Hmmm. I need to model this as a production function.

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2 Responses to “Gnash-ing my teeth”

  1. 1 Mikeloco

    lol i have Ubuntu Edgy Eft 6.10 for PPC
    however, i haven’t installed Gnash…

  2. I have Ubuntu Edgy Eft 6.10 on a pure amd64 system and have more or less the same results with Gnash. My feelings on the matter are about the same same as yours. Although, I have a Firefox add-blocker plugin running to protect me from the brain damage gnash apparently exposes you to now. And, I could run the proprietary flash plugin in my Firefox instance running in my 32bit chroot environment, but I’d rather not. 🙂 Allow me libre code or I’ll have no code at all. I’d rather be a crab scuttling the bottoms of silent seas.


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