Getting Flash to Work Reliably in Linux Web Browsers

Whether it’s Firefox, Chromium or whatever flavour of web browser you chose to use in Linux, the ability to play back the ever prevalent Flash video content in Linux is at best an unreliable experience.

Adobe stopped developing Flash Player for Linux (now stuck on 11.2) over a year ago and advised everyone to use Google Chrome in Linux or forget Flash.

Nice idea, but the latest 64-bit version of Google Chrome  fails to install in Ubuntu 13.04 (64-bit) with a dependency error [Note: 16/05/13 workaround can be found here at OMG Ubuntu]and it’s not open source.

To install Google Chrome for Linux go here.

The open source version of Chrome (Chromium) suffers from the same Flash Player crashes as Firefox. Furthermore, Chromium in order to play Adobe Flash utilises NPAPI plugins which is not considered to be very secure!

However, all is not lost and it is possible to open Flash content within a web browser using the “Swiss Army Knife” of all things video, VLC.

Installing VLC

If you do not have VLC installed on your PC, then this can be either installed from your software centre or from the command line. For Debian distributions like Ubuntu you would enter sudo apt-get install vlc from Terminal.

One small VLC tip – set it to Allow Only One Instance, this will prevent multiple copies of VLC trying to play at once. To set this, from VLC select Tools > Interface and check the box as per the screenshot.

If you also wish to queue up one video after another, also check the box Enqueue files in one instance mode.

Playing Flash Web Content in VLC

To be able to play Flash Player content displayed in your web browser through an external program like VLC, you will need to add-in an extension:

In Firefox

Go to Tools > Add-Ons and search for Open With (current version is 5.3.1), select it and click Install

Now click on Extensions and select Preferences for Open With, the options screen will be displayed.

Change all options as per the screen-shot below and then click on Add.

This will open a new window in USR\Share\Applications, scroll down until you find VLC, select it and then click Open. It will now be added to Open With.

Now, go to a website which hosts flash Video, YouTube is a good starting point right click on a video and select the new menu option Open Link with VLC media player.

VLC will launch and the video will play.

What about playing Flash in Chromium?

Unfortunately, if you use Chromium Open With does not exist in the Chrome Web Store which is a shame as it works pretty well in Firefox.

 There is an App called Open with Other Apps, unfortunately this only works with OSX, it appears to work in a similar way to Open With, but I’ve not been able to get it to work in Linux. The developer of Open With on his website FAQ says:

Will you make a version for Chrome/Safari/XYZ browser? No. I would like to but their extension system isn’t currently capable of the things Open With needs to work.

You can use the app VLC for YouTube, but as the name suggests this only works with YouTube. 


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