FlashPlayer 10 And The 64-bit Problem

Its A Mess

I'm running Firefox and I'm getting error messages from websites such as YouTube. The problem relates to Adobe's FlashPlayer Version 10. I have FlashPlayer 9 but it seems this is no longer good enough for some sites. They bug you to upgrade.

I try to upgrade to FlashPlayer 10. I'm redirected to Adobe's website and offered a number of options relating to Firefox / Linux. I run Debian as my OS of choice and select what appears to be the correct FlashPlayer plugin for Firefox.

When I try to install the plug-in Firefox advises this is the wrong architecture. I run a 64-bit multi-core CPU, as I imagine anyone not living in the third world with a fairly modern computer system. But its a problem. How it can be a problem, I don't understand.

Ya see, 64-bit processor were introduced by AMD in 2003. Yes, a full seven years have passed since they hit the streets. In the fast-moving world of technology that's several lifetimes. But it seems the OS world in general and the application world in particular are dragging their heels, and somehow still living in the dark ages.

Visit an online tech store and see if you can buy a single core 32-bit CPU. Chances are you will not. All current CPU's are 64-bit multi-cores and yet somehow, we are still saddled with 32-bit Operating Systems and 32-bit applications. Why?

This is a problem I've experienced for years. I have been running with 64-bit CPUs for about 5 years. Initially I ran Debian and FreeBSD shortly after 64-bit CPUs hit the market. The OS itself seemed to run fine, apart from a few minor issues. The biggest problems, were  applications. Browsers, Editors, and so on.

I found I was running a 64-bit OS, but the apps were all 32-bit. I lived with it for a while and hit so many problems, I gave up and re-installed a 32-bit OS running on a 64-bit CPU, using 32-bit applications. All that 64-bit CPU processing power you paid for was unused.

Roll forward to 2010 and I am facing the same issues I had back in 2005.

Tonight I try to upgrade to Version 10 of Adobe's ubiquitous FlashPlayer only to find its not available for Firefox Linux in 64-bit. I scratch around the dark corners of the Web and find an Alpha version of a 64-bit plug-in for Firefox on the Linux platform.

I've been running with Linux/FreeBSD for many years, and accepted the fact they small  market share compared to Microsoft's offering. To be honest I didn't mind and lived with it. Recently I thought things had changed with the emergence of Ubuntu, I was under the impression, perhaps erroneously, that Linux was going mainstream.

And still here I am struggling to get a 64-bit plug-in for a browser with 25% browser market share for FlashPlayer which has near 100% market share for Web Video.

Anyhow, I finally locate a 64-bit Firefox plug-in on Linux for FlashPlayer 10. I got it at Mozilla's Website. Here's the URL for other lost souls with the same problem:

 http://plugindoc.mozdev.org/linux-amd64.html#flash

The instructions appear fairly straight-forward if not very intuitive. You download the plug-in and manually copy the *.so file to your lib64 plug-in directory. Then fire up Firefox and wait for the Alpha pre-release software bugs to cause Firefox to crash.

Of course another question comes to mind. Web Video and Flash. Why are we still using proprietary technology?

Have we learnt nothing from the past?

The lesson of the 80s was "Open Systems", and to avoid proprietary hardware and it's marriage to proprietary software. In the early days of computing, if you bought IBM you were locked into IBM software. If you bought Digital, you were locked into Digital software.

I was under the impression we had moved on since then. We now had open systems. You bought your hardware from Dell or HP or any other clone and could install any software you liked for that particular architecture.  Although Microsoft did their best to fight the trend to open systems. They tried to play the old IBM trick of vertical integration. You buy Microsoft OS, then buy Microsoft products to run on the Microsoft OS. Many people fell for this, but not all.

Microsoft even made moves to a proprietary network system akin to the Internet, with their MSNetwork circa Windows 95/98. Read Bill Gates "The Road Ahead" and his vision of the "Information Superhightway". At that time Gates called it wrong and his first version of the book was quickly re-printed with amendments to accommodate the wave of change that was engulfing technology and computing. The Internet and Netscape came along and blew the "Information Superhighway" out the water. Completely sidestepping Gates, Microsoft with their networking plans and leaving them in its wake.

The Internet was based on "Open Systems and Open Protocols" not "Proprietary Technology".

You were not locked into or dependent on one supplier, thank goodness. Much as today, we have other options apart from Windows Vista or Windows 7.

We can choose to run Linux, FreeBSD, or if you can afford it, Apple's OSX. (Apple's OSX is proprietary, even though its based on BSD, which is free software). We have a choice.

In the browser market too, thanks to Mozilla's Firefox, Google's Chrome, Opera, and Safari we  can use other browsers aside from Internet Explorer.

In tying ourselves into proprietary technology, the users are subject to the whims of the IP holders, their engineers, and their marketing departments.

The Internet runs on "Open Protocols", we should not give away our freedoms and be tied into proprietary systems. I know "Open Web Video" formats are in the pipeline and will be part of HTML 5, once its more widely supported.

And big thanks must go to Google for using and supporting "Open Technologies" and "Open Systems". Even if some of their practices are questionable from time to time.

Anyhow that's enough for tonight. I gotta get back to sorting out this Flashplayer problem.

Adios Amigos!