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From Left Right <olegsivo...@gmail.com>
Subject Re: [OT] Flash Platform roadmap
Date Wed, 22 Feb 2012 17:04:08 GMT
As an avid Ubuntu user (obviously, desktop Linux), few clarifications on
how Adobe runtimes worked, until recently, at least:

- player plugin - There was a flash-player-nonfree in the Debian (and
Ubuntu) PPAs, that one would normally install if using Firefox, Opera,
Seamonkey or any similar browser on those distros. These are official
version Adobe provided to those distros. Chrome used to recognize that
plugin, but could also install one of it's own. In fact, I'm running a
debug player in Chrome and release player in Firefox. Flash player,
especially on 64 bit Linux has severe problems with stability (it got
better lately, but better means it crashes once or twice a day instead of
once or twice an hour). Besides stability, the rendering leaves a lot to
wish for...

- projector - very few people have used that, probably only developers like
myself, who use Linux for day to day work. It's hard to believe it was ever
used for other purposes. Maybe on embedded, kiosk-style machines, but I've
not seen that either.

- AIR - there has never been a 64-bit version of the runtime for Linux.
Installing the 32-bit version of the runtime on a 64-bit distro was not
particularly painful, but it required you to have two copies of libc and
some other core utilities, that, normally, you wouldn't want to duplicate.
Given that there was no AIR installer for Linux (you'd have to move files,
create links, add records to the environmental variables - all on your
own), I would imagine that this wasn't used much... I only saw 3 projects
made in AIR that, actually, respected some Linux specifics / were used on
Linux at all - all of them dead or semi-dead by now. (Minibuilder,
Moonshine project).

Flash player is extremely unfriendly to an average Linux user in that the
only argument it takes on command line is -version (starting from version
10-something! it wasn't always like that) :) So even simple tasks like
automatically positioning the projector are quite challenging...

Adobe never provided development runtimes for Linux through a centralized
repositories! This means, again, you could never install the debug player,
like you would, for example, install a development version of httpd or PHP
or Eclipse or whatever other project. You had to download an archive from
Adobe site and figure out on your own where to extract that / what links
you may need and so on. There were times when there was also an installer
for debug player plugin bundled with that archive, but that never worked
out of the box on popular distros, you could maybe use the install script
as a reference to try to understand what the author was trying to
accomplish. There was an enthusiastic person on Yahoo Flex mailing list who
tried to provide a repository with the debugger, but the initiative didn't
last long.

As a side note, Flash player running in Wine (a WinAPI simulator) performs
on par, or even better then "native" Linux player...

In spite of the above facts, the support for Linux matters. Linux is the
platform of choice for good programmers (hey, that's me! oh well...). If
you used it for a while for development, you can't go back to Windows or
Mac OS, or you would sneak in Cygwin, bring your favorite distro on a
disc-on-key drive and work from it :) It's not because it's written by
Torvalds and Stallman, it's because it's like a lego, and is highly
customizable, which makes it much more comfortable then anything else. (So,
this means that FreeBSD qualifies just the same - I don't mean in
particular GNU/Linux, but any system built on the similar principle). So,
while there's not much market share for Linux, it's absolutely worth the
effort.
Well, let me illustrate this differently. Recently, I decided I want to
learn Haskell. I used stackoverflow.com site for a while to know what the
dynamics of the site are. I'm usually only checking out the [flash] and
[lisp] tags though. I've asked a question about Haskell's printf function -
something probably newbish, and in an hour I've got about 10 replies and
they were actually very in-depth, with examples and explanation etc. I
often times come across explicitly wrong answers in the [flash] section, or
very low-quality answers, that may actually hinder you more then help, or
get you accustomed to an ill-suggested practice. Now, there's been an old
joke about the 26'th mysterious Haskell programmer, an anonymous who'd post
a complimenting comment whenever there was an article on Haskell released.
Yet Haskell community was so small, they actually knew each other by name,
and couldn't figure out who's posting those comments. And, with all that,
they managed to write couple of good programs...
Similarly, the Linux Flash community is very-very small, but if you stop
providing support to them, you probably loose more then just few freaks :)
Maybe it's hard to see this immediately, but innovations don't come from
the corporative grounds. Corporations may be faithful supporters and source
of income, but they are the exact opposite of innovation, because,
obviously, they try to do less work, and iff innovation is imminent, they
will update. So, reducing Linux support is like reducing the allocations to
R&D. You may argue that there weren't good results so far - but read above,
the support was very poor. Well, at least a self-respecting language would
have provided an editing mode for Emacs! :D

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