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Friday, October 13, 2006

How to INSTALL Flash Player for Linux : A Step by Step guide

The Macromedia Corporation has always been very lousy at offering their product to the Linux community. One of the supposedly supported softwares is the Flash Player for Mozilla based web browsers.

Since Macromedia Flash Player is not open source, most of the Linux vendors avoid embedding the Flash Player in their distribution. The aim of this ‘How-to’ is to teach you to enable the Flash Player in your Linux distribution, if it’s not already enabled. As far as I can remember, from the most popular distributions, the only one that integrates Flash Player out of the box is SuSe.

If you want Flash support in your distro, you should go to the Macromedia website and get the latest Flash Player for Linux, and that is version 7. This is pretty disappointing, because Macromedia has released version 9 for Windows, while for Linux time stood still regarding this matter. After downloading it, you have to extract the files from the archive. In the newly extracted director, you will notice 5 files, of which only libflashplayer.so and flashplayer.xpt will be required, so keep this in mind.

Because distributions organize their directories differently, you will have to locate the directory in which your Mozilla-based browser holds its plugins. To do so, open a terminal and use "locate mozilla" or "locate firefox", so you can figure out where those browsers are holding their plugins. At the beginning of the list displayed by the "locate” command, you will see a line similar to /usr/lib/mozilla-1.7.13/plugins/ that shows where you should copy the two files mentioned above. This path is available for the Fedora distribution and is very likely to be different when using another distro. If you are using Firefox, don't forget to put the Flash Player plugins in the correct location. The default path that distributions should use is /usr/local/mozilla/plugins. This might come in handy if you’re lucky and your Linux vendor respects the standard.

To make the plugins work with your Mozilla browser e.g. Konqueror, you have to go to its configuration window, in the plugins tab. There you will see a section for Netscape plugins and you’ll have to press the Scan button. After doing so, you will see in the plugins tab that Flash Player was installed.

Last but not least, you should know that in the Flash Player archive that you’ve decompressed, there is a file named flasplayer-install. This is supposed to be a shared script that is able to install the player. Sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn't; therefore, I’ve described this do-it-yourself method. Hopefully, you will now be able to enjoy some content-rich, nicely designed Flash websites.