My (probably wrong) assumption about Flash on Fedora

August 23, 2010

In hindsight, it is somewhat peculiar that I spent a considerable time using Fedora 11 with a broken Flash setup instead of seriously looking into the situation. What happened is that I made a simple assumption: I assumed that Flash and the associated infrastructure needed to run it on a 64-bit machine were second class citizens, looked down on and basically unsupported.

If I'd assumed that Fedora wouldn't leave Flash broken on 64-bit machines, then it being broken on my machine was clearly either something wrong with my machine that I could fix (which is what it turned out to be) or something worth a bug report. In either case I would have dug into it and probably solved the problem much earlier than I did. Instead I assumed otherwise, and also that any bug report involving Flash would would be promptly closed as either 'not our problem' or 'nothing we can do since Adobe Flash is a black box' (or both).

Although it sounds crazy, I don't think that this was an irrational assumption to make. I've at least perceived that the 'free software' view of Flash has generally been that it was an annoying and alarming proprietary technology that should be avoided, and certainly free software people weren't necessarily going to go out of their way to make it work. In this view, the odd thing wasn't that Flash wasn't working on my 64-bit machine; the odd thing was that it had ever worked.

(In fact at one point it didn't work by default; back in the time of Fedora Core 5 and 6, I had to compile my own versions of nspluginwrapper.)

One of the lessons I draw from both this incident and my earlier experiences of things starting to work on 64-bit Linux is that I need to periodically re-check my assumptions about what is and isn't supported on Linux. I may well be pleasantly surprised, as I have been in the past.

Written on 23 August 2010.
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Last modified: Mon Aug 23 01:07:08 2010
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