No hardware accelerated FlashPlayer on Linux

[UPDATE] Seems that Adobe aren’t the only ones having trouble with OpenGL on Linux. I’ve asked Mozilla for an update and will elaborate in a separate post when I hear back. (Thanks to Steven Johnson for the link)

First we heard that Adobe would no longer develop AIR for Linux and now they’ve quietly dropped Molehill on the Linux FlashPlayer. So if you’re on Linux, you can forget about the new hardware accelerated graphics capabilities coming in the next version of Flash.

I first heard about it from Tom Chiverton and this forum post that suggests that there were difficulties getting it to work on Linux and Adobe would concentrate on other platforms. This lack of support was later confirmed by Thibault Imbert (FlashPlayer manager) on Twitter.

This was a surprise – I’ve seen so many Adobeans talk about how Molehill would be implemented with openGL on Linux, even the Adobe labs page confirms it (at the time of writing, screen grab below):

Adobe labs talks about Linux implementation using OpenGL

This comes shortly after Adobe drops Linux support for AIR and they won’t be making Adobe Reader X for Linux either.

For Adobe to support a specific platform, there has to be a short-term business reason to do so and it’s only natural that outliers get discarded along the way.

This is a continuing trend of Adobe moving away from the open source platform and if I’m honest, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. If you look at the numbers, sure it makes sense to focus on stronger platforms (like Android). But if Adobe want Flash to be taken seriously as a cross-platform technology then isn’t Linux support important?

Given the rapid encroachment of HTML5 on many FlashPlayer strongholds, GPU graphics could be an important part of the future of Flash. Especially when Microsoft have no plans to support WebGL. So if you want 3D accelerated graphics that work in all browsers including Explorer then Flash with Molehill has the edge.

But it’ll certainly be interesting to see the whether projects using WebGL (which is supported by Linux browsers) can affect browser upgrade and installation. Already Chrome is encroaching on MSIE – will that trend continue? And will Molehill ensure that the high penetration rates of the FlashPlayer are maintained? I for one, watch with interest.

19 replies on “No hardware accelerated FlashPlayer on Linux”

Why… Arg it feels like there’s nothing but bad news coming from Flash lately. Next thing you know they’d be dropping 64bit for Linux next.

Adobe CEO also purchased Omniture, started Catalyst, has engineers quitting, has no communication skills – witnes interview with WSJ.
Also // – he decided to de-emphasize .as in browser!

The community demands that Adobe CEO resign, and be replaced by Adobe CTO.

I am hugely disappointed by the trend at Adobe to drop support for Linux.

Working with embedded devices like *NDA* for major companies like *NDA* or *NDA*, means Flash will no longer be an option for us to use. These companies use mostly Linux based systems, although some started using Android, most still run custom distos. I guess we will do our prototypes, demos and production apps in Processing and HTML5 to make sure they run or beg their systems guys to use Android!

Dropping support for Molehill in the Flash Player on Linux is bad news all around for online distribution. For lack of better words: this sucks.

Tried to make 3D acceleration work for days… Tried ATI, tried NVidia… tried virtualizing… Everything failed and not much is available online telling wether it would work or not.
Adobe didn’t really make any effort to make it clear if we’d be able to develop accelerated 3D in Flash on Linux platform.
This really sucks, because in my opinion, Flash is going 3D very soon and developpers will have no choice but coming back to MS.

well guess i’ll drop flex and go for JS, and native android for mobile, INMHO Adobe has it wrong on this one … with AIR compile once, deploy everywhere was actually possible, but they screwed it up

At the end of the day adobe has limited resources, so they have to focus on platforms which are going to create the greatest impact, at this stage thats not linux.

On Mozilla having problems getting WebGL working on Linux, I took a quick search and found the following in Bugzilla:

Despite WebGL being (re)enabled in Firefox 4.0b11 on Linux, still doesn’t work

Un-blacklist OpenGL drivers on X11 as soon as they get good enough

So it seems that WebGL is now available for Firefox and Linux, it’s just a very large number of drivers are blacklisted. It seems that this is a pretty big driver problem for Linux.

I’ve had issues with the Open Source OpenGL (Mesa) Radeon drivers on Linux, but they’re coming on really fast. Right now using Ubuntu 11.04, and a recent version of Mesa from Git WebGL works pretty well in Firefox if forced on. I expect this will all be in the 11.10 Ubuntu release.

Let’s be frank here? I’m a programmer and I still don’t know anyone that isn’t a die-hard nerd that is using Linux on a daily basis. Linux grows super-slow as a platform // and nothing big is scheduled to happen there.

I’d say Android is the new Linux in that has solved all the driver and compatibility issues that have plagued Linux. With limited resources and # of mobile CPUs having surpassed stationary ones last year, would you really say that Linux is more important to support than Android?

It’s kind of like the classic customer that wants the project Cheap, Fast AND High quality. You can’t get it all and still make it high quality. That said – anyone can make their own Flash Player these days. Based on the complaints from the Linux crew, Adobe’s codebase for it must me super-inefficient and messy, so I’m sure some clever heads could cook up something better really fast and totally free? It’s perfectly legal. I just wonder if the Debian or the Fedora bundled Flash Player would be the best one…


I don’t know how accurate those w3schools statistics are. Perhaps Linux users disproportionately visit that site. They claim over 5%…but all these other guys have statistics in the 0.7-1.5% range (average 1.1%): //

Assume the Linux port is as much work as a windows or mac port (it may even be harder, due to aforementioned issues). Does it make sense to spend 33% of your effort to gain at most an additional 1% marketshare? Perhaps even less, a lot of Linux users are anti-closed-source zealots and wouldn’t install Flash even if it worked perfectly. And it’s not like the are dropping Flash completely, they are still supporting the player, and it will still even support the new 3D APIs, they just wont be hardware accelerated.

Thank you for the voice of sanity and reality. I’m sure they’ll get back around to it once the race for mobile stabilizes, but for now it’s too much effort for too small a return.

I’m always astonished at how intelligent people often still refuse to look at both sides of an issue.

Dropping support for linux is a good reason for linux developers (of which I know a few) to stop using flash. But I think something else has to be stated here: The reason for me (and most of my friends) not to have Linux is Adobe Software. Photoshop/Flash and co. I would have switched a long time ago if it wasn’t for that piece of daily life necessity (and dont try to argue with wine). Now it seems all that more that I will be never able to really switch … (sadpanda)

Disappointed as well!!

Adobe is just going more and more away from linux. This sucks.. It smells business crap to me.

If you using MS as a development platform – you are not a developer. It’s absolutely impossible to develop huge projects on windows-powered machines. We have about 50 developers and all of them using linux, so as I. Adobe was always a design company, not a developer. They don’t even optimize Photoshop to perform simple tasks faster from version to version.
Some of their products developed for sole-programmers. For example, Flash CS – absolutely impossible to develop in team – no version control.
This news sucks, as for us we are developing 3d game for flash and crying when testing the game. We powered up additional MS Windows PCs just for testing, not for developing.
Also we don’t like Apple and their policy, but it’s going to be the only choice for us in near future.

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