Practical Technology

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Flash 10 on Linux: Better, not great, better


Let’s get this out of the way first. Adobe Flash is still a proprietary program and I, and a lot of other open-source people, wish that it wasn’t. That said, the latest Flash Player 10 on Linux is a lot faster than the last version and it opens up the doors to a lot of Web-based video content.

s is also, lest we forget, the first version of Flash to appear for Linux that showed up at the same time as the Windows and Mac OS versions appeared. It’s always nice to see Linux being treated as a first class citizen by a major software vendor.

So, to welcome it, I installed it on two different Linux systems. The first was my openSUSE 11 running on my faithful old HP Pavilion a6040n PC. This system is powered by a 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6320 dual-core processor and has 2GBs of memory and uses an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 with 32MB of dedicated graphics memory for the display. On my second test-box, my Gateway 503GR, I was running Kubuntu 8.04. This system has a 3GHz Pentium IV CPU, 2GB of RAM, an ATI Radeon 250 graphics card, and a 300GB SATA hard drive. Neither PC is what you would call speedy.

Despite that, using the GUIMark, a Web-based benchmark test suite designed to compare 2D graphics rendering systems, I saw 17.5fps (Frames per second) on the openSUSE system and 14.9 on the Kubuntu box. These results are somewhat misleading though if you take them at face value. GUIMark is designed to “heavily saturate the rendering pipeline.” Flash video over the Web tends to be designed to deliver the best possible video for the least amount of bandwidth and system requirements.

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