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A First Look at Flash 9 for Linux Beta

Not Too Shabby for a Beta

October 20, 2006

According to the Adobe Labs Web site, the big new features in Flash 9 are a full-screen display and a version that runs under Linux. I downloaded the plug-in for Firefox, as well as the standalone Flash Player, to see how it worked.

While I was able to display existing Flash 7 content and able to view newer full-screen Flash 9 movies, I couldn't get it to fill the desktop on my SUSE Linux 10.0-powered HP Pavilion laptop. The standalone Linux player had some troubles, too.

But hey, that's why it's a beta release.

Do you want to help wring out the software? Here's how you can get it loaded and give it a try. Don't forget to feed your comments back to the development team.

Here's how my quick review went. First, I installed Flash 9 on my SUSE laptop with Firefox (version and Konqueror (version 3.4.2).

The easiest way to get the plugin working is to make sure that Flash 7 is installed first. Start Firefox and go to a known Flash 7 site, such as the main Disney page. What can I say? I'm from Central Florida. Besides, the site is a good test, because the images are complicated and have roll overs.

If you have the right version of Flash installed, you should see the theme park styled map. If not, you'll get a download screen to use to download the Flash 7 package.

After it's downloaded, restart Firefox and the Flash content should be visible. Right click to get the little pop-up window that verifies that Flash 7 is installed.

Now you can go to the Flash 9 update page and click on the update link under the download panel. Download the Installer for Linux .gz plug-in file to a known directory. You can also grab the standalone player .gz file now, too.

Move over to your download directory and untar the file. I used root for this.

/root# tar -xzvf FP9_plugin_beta_101806.tar.gz/

Change to the flash-player-plugin-x.x.xx.xx directory and copy the file to your ~/.mozilla/plugins directory.

Upon restarting Firefox, you should now be able to display Flash 9, as well as older legacy Flash content. Go to the Disney site and right click to verify that Flash 9 is operating.

The community has provided some interesting movies and they appear on the Flash 9 demo page. Make sure to watch the Hyperactive human drum machine guy on the Dailymotion link. Let's just say I'm still chuckling to myself this morning. I wonder if he knows Yahoo Serious?

As I stated earlier, I was able to bring up both legacy and Flash 9 videos, but was unable to make them take over my desktop. The minimize/maximize button appeared in the upper left hand corner of the video screen, but had no effect on the picture. The colors seemed a little more vivid and the motion a little smoother with Flash 9 content than the older stuff.

Getting Flash 9 working with Konqueror wasn't that hard. Make sure Flash 7 has been loaded. Then download and load the Linux installer. The only exception is that you need to copy the file to the /usr/lib/browser-plugins directory instead of ~/.mozilla/plugins.

Now, start Konqueror and give it a spin.

Sadly, I was unable to run the videos full screen under Konqueror, either. No doubt, a few things need to be fixed.

To try to eliminate the Linux distribution as a possible source of failure, I also downloaded Flash 9 under a Live DVD version of Ubuntu. Same machine. Same result, no full screen. The file goes in the same ~/.mozilla/plugins directory, by the way.

The standalone Flash 9 player started and ran, but couldn't load or view any Flash videos at all. I tried using the demo links and the Disney link, but all I'd get was a quick blip on the screen and no video.

The program would switch to full screen, but alas, that didn't help much.

Want to help troubleshoot? Download and untar the FP9_standalone_beta_101806.tar.gz file. You'll need to change the permission on the gflashplayer file in the resultant flash-player-standalone- directory to allow execution. It can then be started with ./gflashplayer. Copy in a Flash URL and give it a try.

Perhaps your experience will be better than mine.

I'm happy to see that Adobe is working on improved features for their Flash family of products. It would have been nice to see it work right. With a little more work and some community help, I hope we will see continuing progress for Linux and Open Source based systems.

Rob Reilly is a consultant, trend spotter, and writer. He is a contributing editor for Linux Today. He advises clients on portable business computing and presentation technology integration. You can visit his web page at

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