Linux Flash Player Saga Continues

    September 27, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

Adobe’s Mike Melanson has posted some more information about the lengthy delays in releasing a new version of Flash Player for Linux.

“What could possibly be so difficult about porting the Flash Player to Linux?”

“I’m glad you asked.”
— Melanson’s opening for his post titled What’s So Difficult?

Considering some of the vitriol dropped into the comments section of the Penguin.SWF blog post he wrote, Melanson may not be so glad he tried to answer the question.

He placed the blood-stained finger of blame on three things: libraries, libraries, and libraries:

While we have the plugin limping along on our development machines, there comes a point where we need to hand off builds to our QA team for testing. This is when we notice that the plugin works great on our dev boxes, but hardly or not at all on any other distributions.

Generally, the problem is libraries, libraries, libraries. For example, the player dynamically opens to dig out the ALSA audio functions. I recently learned that the ‘’ symlink is only available on systems with the right devel packages installed. The proper file to open is ‘’. Hopefully. Repeat for the rest of the dynamic library loads.

Adobe also had to overcome the problem of the Flash Player not working on Fedora Core 5 or 6, Melanson wrote. “These systems come “hardened” from the start and they don’t like binaries that contain something called text relocations (“textrels”).”

Ongoing work has led to a solution that should let the plug-in work on hardened systems. But without a much-clamored-for beta release of the Flash Player, no one outside of Adobe using Linux knows how well it works right now.

One comment on the blog entry about Flash and Linux asked why Adobe needs to ensure “that a single plugin binary functions on the widest diversity of Linux/x86 distributions.” Why not just release multiple versions, starting with widely used platforms like Ubuntu and Fedora?

Melanson wrote, “A major problem has been that the plugin wants to find Certain older Linux systems that we are trying to support only have” While it is certainly well-intentioned to want to make Flash available on those older systems, Adobe should really try to determine if this is worth the ongoing delays in shipping the Flash Player to Linux users.

Add to | Digg | Yahoo! My Web | Furl

Bookmark WebProNews:

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.