Proprietary Setup in Linux
What does my blog title mean!? How can the awesome GNU/LINUX be associated with that dirty dirty word, “proprietary”!? Well you’ve heard the terms “cutting edge” and “early adopters” before – it usually means having the latest and greatest, but knowing that it’s not perfect. I experienced that recently and the experience was a bit sobering. My adventure involves two of the most major components of the Internet! Well the two most important components for viewing the Internet – Firefox and Flash Player.
I’m running Fedora 9. This RPM-based linux distribution is known as the “personal” version of Red Hat, nothing corporate about this distro. So; on one end it’s a great distro because it has developers that work on Red Hat feeding it patches of code. For those that may not know, Red Hat is really popular in the business realm. You’ll see a lot of enterprises running Red Hat. Ubuntu recently came out their server version, but overall Red Hat has the complete package.
So; Fedora is bleeding edge when it comes to packages – F9 shipped with Firefox 3 beta (or was it release candidate 1) and Flash 9. Since then Firefox 3.0.2 has been available in their repositories. It took me a while to figure out this repo thing. Why did it take so long before the latest version of a package, such as OpenOffice 3.0, would show up in the repo. Well it’s because once it’s in the repository – you know you have a stable version that works well and good with the distro.
No Cake for Single-thread Sound Processes
I believe the audio package that’s most promising for linux is PulseAudio. I noticed that whenever I had my music player open (Banshee), I was unable to hear audio on a web site using Flash (ex: YouTube). It was the same case when I played World of Warcraft (thru Wine). I came to the conclusion that my audio package is single threaded! Single threaded!? That is so Windows 95! So; I began to make some inquiries on the #fedora chat room on FreeNode. Someone suggested that I install “libflashsupport.i386″. Well; I don’t know what it is, but guessing on the file name it looks like a library that helps other packages support Flash. I installed it and it was gold! I had my Banshee going and I had YouTube at the same time, I thought all my problems where gone.
After playing some YouTube files I then went to another web site and surprisingly my browser froze! I thought to myself, “OK; this isn’t a big deal, it’s probably the first time libflashsupport is running so it probably needs to write a preference file somewhere and it’ll all be good the next go around.” Yah! At that point every time I went to a site that had Flash on it, no matter how complex or insignificant it was, my browser would freeze. I have Firefox, Swiftfox, and Flock web browsers. I tried each browser and at some point they would all crash.
So; the logical thing to do would be to remove the last component I installed – I removed “libflashsupport.i386″, but the problem still happened. That library seemed to have fudge things up for me. I ended up manually installing Flash 10, poking around in my package manager for anything that had the word “flash” in it. Nothing worked. For about two weeks or so I had so surf the web without Flash support. At one point I realized that I can’t enjoy the web or some web sites because they use Flash in some kind of way. We’ve become very dependent on Flash for presentation.
My last option was to revert the “factory settings” and see if that does anything. I removed “firefox” and “flash” using my package manager and then installed them again. That action put me back at status quo. I’m running Flash 10 (at some point it made it into the repo) and Firefox 3.0.4. I learned that I don’t have to have the latest and greatest. There’s a reason why I should wait until it’s released in the repo. All-in-all, the repo is the “proprietary” component to a linux distribution… and I guess I can live with that.