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Ubuntu 64-bit and Flash Videos in Fullscreen

I have never been an Adobe fan and something tells me that I won’t change my mind soon. One of the main reasons for which Linux had problems being a “normal” operating system for a quite long period of time (although there were other issues as well, but not as visible at this one) was that the Flash Player never really worked very well on this platform. Time passed and things began slowly to advance, however users of the 64-bit version of the Linux kernel had to use various hacks to run a 32-bit browser because of Flash.

A little bit of history (and personal experience)

Only when it reached version 10 Adobe managed to issue a native 64-bit version of their Flash plug-in for Linux, but it was a Labs attempt and therefore not considered a stable release. Still, it was the best way to enjoy Flash content on a 64-bit platform, even though there wasn’t a nice and easy way to install it (get an archive from Adobe, extract the .so file from it, and then using sudo move it to the proper location using the terminal). Nevertheless, everything worked smoothly, even 1080p videos in full screen, as long as you had a decent machine. Yeah, Flash is power hungry (not quite news…).

It didn’t last long until Adobe found out that version 10.0 had a major security bug, which led to the release of version 10.1. But because Linux users were (and probably still are) a negligible quantity, version 10.1 didn’t contain a 64-bit release for this platform. The “official” reasons were that Adobe wanted to work on version 10.2 which unified several technologies and therefore did not have to time to work on a Linux release. And then again, in order to avoid the security bugs, Linux users had to use the 32-bit Flash player wrapped with 32-bit compatible libraries on their 64-bit systems. And hell broke loose ever since because running Flash videos in fullscreen was a matter of luck, randomness and Adobe’s willingness to test video cards drivers.

Although Riker has pretty powerful hardware components, a Flash video in fullscreen made it look ridiculous. Flash 10.2 (this time a native 64-bit release) didn’t seem to handle the problem better. Annoyed by such a trivial thing, I have started to look for a fix. It was weird that things were working with 10.0 and then degraded with newer releases. I know that my video driver hasn’t been updated since then, which clearly meant that the problem was on Adobe’s side.

The fix

Apparently, on UNIX (and consequently Linux) machines, the Flash player can read settings from two files:

  • mm.cfg - a file residing in each user’s home directory with per user settings

  • mms.cfg - a file residing in /etc/adobe which sets things for the whole machine

Because Flash uses its own mechanism to check for video card compatibility and then runs animations according to it, on some drivers it might fail to read properly the OpenGL specs of the card, which in turn leads to crappy performance in fullscreen (lags, unresponsiveness, browser crashes, etc.). To override the internal compatibility check (which Adobe says that might lead to crashes; ironic, isn’t it?!), one has to add a setting in the mms.cfg file:

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OverrideGPUValidation=true

Once this is done, simply restart your browser and check how things are working. You might have a nice surprise. It’s amazing though how until 10.1 things were working as they should have without this override.

If by any chance that file, or even the adobe folder, is missing, use these commands:

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sudo mkdir /etc/adobe #in case the folder is missing
echo "OverrideGPUValidation=true" | sudo tee /etc/adobe/mms.cfg

Let’s hope though that 10.3 won’t require something more esoteric.

Source: Secrets of The mms.cfg File

How To, Linux, Ubuntu

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