Adobe released yesterday a preview of Flash Player “Square”. It includes native 64bit support and IE9 hardware acceleration enhancement. Yes, you’ve got it! Adobe is again supporting a 64bit release of their plug-in and for all 3 platforms: Linux, Mac OS X and Windows.
Note: there is a free (libre) alternative to Adobe Flash product called Gnash, however it is still far from being stable enough on all web sites to be widely use. But anyway, it is a highly interesting project which have made recent huge improvements towards reliability and speed. You should try Gnash first and if it doesn’t work for you, then go for Adobe.
Update: Flash Player “Square” is now Flash Player 11, and there is a second beta released this August 2011.
The major problem faced by 64-bit Linux users is getting Flash Player to work properly on the platform. With the latest version of Ubuntu, it installs the 32-bit release of Adobe Flash Player along with the necessary 32-bit libraries so it can work.
Gnash, the free (libre) alternative is not enough mature to work on all web sites. But Adobe is currently working on a 64-bit version of its player. It is now available in the labs for download. This is still a beta, so using this plug-in could make your browser unstable (also see warning at the end of this post).
Before installing it, you should remove any previous installation of Adobe Flash Player, you can use Synaptic (System -> Administration) for this purpose.
The downloaded file has the extension .tar.gz, it is a compression format like ZIP. You can double-click on it and extract the file (libflashplayer.so) to your home directory, or use the command line: “$ tar zxf flashplayer11_rc1_install_lin_64_090611.tar.gz“. Now, you need to copy the extracted file to a system directory, close all internet browsers before doing so. It is assumed that the extracted file is in your home directory.
You can now launch Firefox or Chromium on your 64-bit system and watch Flash media content. My own experience is a more stable system! But do not forget, Flash is not a free software.
Updated 2010-06-08: Adobe issued a security warning for all Flash players (all platforms) covering 10.0.45.2 and earlier release. Which most probably means that it includes the 64bit version as well (this is not confirmed). The only safe version (recommended by Adobe itself) at the time of writing is Flash 10.1 RC which is sadly 32bit-only.
Updated 2011-08-13: Adobe released a second beta of Flash Player 11 which as 32bit and 64bit implementation. This release includes also an Adobe Flash system preference. Just uncompress the .tar.gz file in a temporary directory and copy the uncompressed usr folder to your root ‘/’ directory.
Updated 2011-10-01: Updated for the first release candidate of Flash Player 11.
Google Chrome is an internet browser (or navigator) based on the free software project Chromium. Chrome is long available on Windows, but only really recently is it available on Mac OS X and Linux, though still under “beta” (meaning testing/experimental) stage.
I have been using Chrome or Chromium without any obvious differences (at least on Linux).
So why Chrome/Chromium when there is already Firefox? First it is a matter of choice, I could answer you why so many different vehicles? Second, I like the look and feel of Chrome, it optimises the use of screen real estate, it is not cluttered with many menus or actions on the toolbar and it seems to always know where I want a new tab to be opened. Third, it launches really fast.
I have to say that I am happy and delighted to hear this news. My point is that Microsoft should only be shipping a raw Windows. The computer manufacturer should then integrate Windows with a software solution of their choice, a software solution that integrates of course a browser and other tools. Just like Windows does not shipped with an office pack, but major computer vendors are adding office software applications to their computers offers.
Ubuntu Linux is designed for Human beings. It tends to be as easy as possible for all of them and to make things just work. A similar contender on this concept but in the web browser/e-mail environment is Opera. Sadly it is not open source but it is freely available to anyone and on many platforms and languages.
Opera features many enhancement regarding accessibility (and are/were pioneer in many of this area). They have integrated into their browser things like mouse gesture, voice control and many UI improvements (some were adapted in other major software) including: tabs, sessions, zoom and private data management.
It seems as if Opera has always tried to make their software more ergonomic with each new release. Something that was not really considered seriously until recently by the contenders.