Gnash is an open source player for Adobe’s Flash format. It can be used as an alternative to Adobe’s proprietary player. The upcoming Ubuntu 7.10 release includes automatic installation of either Adobe Flash or Gnash. I decided to put this feature to the test in Ubuntu 7.10 Beta.

Surfing to a page with an embedded Flash video causes Firefox to offer to install the missing plugins. I chose the option to install the Gnash player.

Gnash install

Ubuntu downloaded and installed the player, and warned that it needed to be restarted. After doing so the flash on YouTube would load, but the front page was not looking good so far:

Youtube with Gnash

Attempting to play a video caused Firefox ask me to install two more codecs. These were additional a/v codecs needed for the streaming video on YouTube. After the installation, the video began to play. However, the most of the player interface was messed up. Moving the playback slider also did not work.

Gnash playing video

I failed to find a recent Flash game that worked with Gnash. None of my tests even loaded. I suppose that the developer are focusing on streaming video sites, which are the main use of Flash these days. If you want to game you will need Adobe’s player.

Ubuntu’s Flash installer works perfectly, a new user would have no trouble using it to get a Flash player installed. Gnash is not ready for general use, unless all you need to do is watch videos and you don’t mind the player interface not working. Otherwise, Adobe’s player is the only choice. Hopefully Gnash will continue to develop to a point were it will be a viable alternative.

Here are some of the bugs I came across while testing Gnash:

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