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We Don’t Need Flash Anymore

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Site News at 8:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: An era of Flash barriers is coming to an end, but Techrights is looking for free/libre VoIP/SIP recording software

Adobe Trash (Flash) is dirt on the World Wide Web. It hinders access to data not just by humans but also by bots. Nevertheless, there are few Web sites that still depend on Flash and require the user/visitor to install it. One site that used to require it for most data (video) was YouTube, but this major site is moving to WebM, which may make Flash and its substitutes a lot less necessary (along with codecs that are not simple to obtain, at least in Fedora). Google can be expected to transcode all of its videos and make them available as WebM within weeks or just a few months. For other Web sites, Gnash, the free/libre alternative, seems to be sufficient and it is simple to install either from the package manager (e.g. KPackageKit) or the universal environment, which is the command line. The package managers vary, but the package names are usually the same (just replace yum with apt-get for example). In Fedora 14, the following commands do the job for Gnash support in Konqueror.

[roy@blueberry ~]$ su
[root@blueberry roy]# yum install gnash-klash
Loaded plugins: langpacks, presto, refresh-packagekit
Adding en_US to language list
Setting up Install Process
Resolving Dependencies
--> Running transaction check
---> Package gnash-klash.i686 1:0.8.8-4.fc14 set to be installed
--> Finished Dependency Resolution

Dependencies Resolved

 Package                   Arch               Version                       Repository            Size
 gnash-klash               i686               1:0.8.8-4.fc14                fedora               177 k

Transaction Summary
Install       1 Package(s)

Total download size: 177 k
Installed size: 541 k
Is this ok [y/N]: y
Downloading Packages:
Setting up and reading Presto delta metadata
Processing delta metadata
Package(s) data still to download: 177 k
gnash-klash-0.8.8-4.fc14.i686.rpm                                               | 177 kB     00:00     
Running rpm_check_debug
Running Transaction Test
Transaction Test Succeeded
Running Transaction
  Installing     : 1:gnash-klash-0.8.8-4.fc14.i686                                                 1/1 

  gnash-klash.i686 1:0.8.8-4.fc14                                                                      

[root@blueberry roy]#  yum install gnash
Loaded plugins: langpacks, presto, refresh-packagekit
Adding en_US to language list
Existing lock /var/run/yum.pid: another copy is running as pid 31528.
Another app is currently holding the yum lock; waiting for it to exit...
  The other application is: PackageKit
    Memory :  47 M RSS ( 63 MB VSZ)
    Started: Sun Nov 21 12:28:38 2010 - 00:06 ago
    State  : Sleeping, pid: 31528
Another app is currently holding the yum lock; waiting for it to exit...
  The other application is: PackageKit
    Memory :  47 M RSS ( 63 MB VSZ)
    Started: Sun Nov 21 12:28:38 2010 - 00:08 ago
    State  : Sleeping, pid: 31528
Another app is currently holding the yum lock; waiting for it to exit...
  The other application is: PackageKit
    Memory :  47 M RSS ( 63 MB VSZ)
    Started: Sun Nov 21 12:28:38 2010 - 00:10 ago
    State  : Sleeping, pid: 31528
Setting up Install Process
Package 1:gnash-0.8.8-4.fc14.i686 already installed and latest version
Nothing to do

Or the short story:

yum install gnash-plugin 
yum install gnash-klash 
yum install gnash

In Ubuntu I’ve had less luck with Gnash, which was harder to successfully install and register with the Web browser. On the other hand, Fedora has some other drawbacks that are not its fault (e.g., from today [1, 2]). The bottom line though, as far as Flash content is concerned, things have improved greatly over the years. Not only is there a free substitute for Flash but Flash content itself is dying due to HTML5 (yes, some sites dump Flash in favour of HTML) and free codecs/formats such as Ogg and WebM. This opening up of the Web is further supported by the death of Silverlight and the realisation that mobile devices require access too.

As people who hang out in IRC may already know, Techrights depends on proprietary software only as far as recording is concerned because a VoIP recorder for 2 or more people simultaneously is something that we are still unable to achieve in Ekiga. Any suggestions regarding a free/libre replacement would be appreciated. Having got rid of all dependencies on proprietary software at my job (MATLAB has been the only such dependency for many years), it would be nice to make Techrights not dependent on Skype (for TechBytes) and the FSF too recognises that replacements in VoIP are a “high priority” issue.

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  1. Agent_Smith said,

    November 21, 2010 at 8:36 am


    I would love to see an option to Skype. So far, I haven’t. Gizmo, which was a promising application, was bought by Google and turned into Gtalk voice. But, so far, nothing beats Skype. Not Gtalk voice, not WLM voice, no nothing.
    The guys at Skype were very competent to create a multi platform Voip app that really works.
    Even Gtalk has its hiccups, and it doesn’t work well always(sometimes one can hear and not talk, or talk and not hear) so, it’s still faulty.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Do you know of any application which can capture all audio output in my session, including my microphone input? That would help me record with just Free software, but I could not find such a package. I once read that Audacity might have the required functionality, but it’s a sort of hack. Also, when we have guests who only use Skype, then we have a real barrier. It would be nice to lead by example.

  2. bohu said,

    November 21, 2010 at 11:12 am


    Talk to the guys who used to do the Linux Link Tech Show. They were running an asterisk server and you could call in with whatever you wanted, even cell phones and land lines.

    Agent_Smith Reply:

    Oh, now we’re talking business here. Asterisk is a nice voip PBX server. If you have a reasonable broad band, it could be your app.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Now I remember that one person suggested this to us and we have an Asterisk guru around. Maybe we’ll look into it soon. Thanks!

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