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Flash 9 On GNU/Linux

Saturday 30th September 2006

Spurred by the recent articles and comments online, many of them complaining about the lack of a Flash Player 9 for GNU/Linux, I've decided to add my views about Adobe, formerly Macromedia, Flash to the pot.

I'm not going to ramble on too long (hopefully!) seeing as I'm sure I am only reiterating what others have already said. Still, here is my opinion: Adobe is not stupid. They are not useless. They're just a company.

What do I mean by that? Well, contrary to what some people believe, I think Adobe have made a sensible decision to choose to support the operating system that covers the vast majority of desktops in the world. Comparatively, there are barely any GNU/Linux desktop users.

The fact that Adobe is supporting Linux at all is a good thing - for some reason, we let plenty of companies develop solely for Windows without giving them a torrent of abuse, but when Adobe lets its support for GNU/Linux lag behind Window's, people suddenly get up in arms about it. Not only has Adobe decided to support GNU/Linux, there's even a weblog dedicated to keeping the community up-to-date with what is going on with Flash support on GNU/Linux. They have no obligation to support any platform, but still have decided to give this minority some attention - we should be thanking them, not spitting acid at them.

Then, of course, we get those that decide if it isn't free software yet, it should be. Would I prefer the world to have more free software? Yes. But the world doesn't work like that. Rather than trying to ram free software down people's throats, and considering non-free software dirty and abhorrent, we should be trying to work with others. Certainly, we should try and promote FOSS where possible, but sometimes getting companies to free their software isn't feasible. I somewhat doubt the cries to Adobe to open source Flash are going to be answered any time soon. If you're that determined to have a free Flash Player, then you can always try out Gnash.

Would I prefer the Flash Player to be free? Of course. Would I prefer the Flash file format to be fully open? Undoubtedly. But Adobe are under no obligation to do so, nor are we in any position to make such demands of them. We don't live in an ideal world, so we simply have to make do with what we have. Please, I ask you: be glad that Adobe are supporting GNU/Linux at all. If we wait patiently, then Flash Player 9 for GNU/Linux will arrive eventually, audio/video synchronisation and all.

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