Flash Player 9 on OpenMoko?

Philippe De Swert philippedeswert at scarlet.be
Thu Mar 22 18:03:37 CET 2007


First of all I do not intend to flame you. So no hard feelings towards you.
However there are some important points regarding flash that lots of people
tend to ignore.

> The flash situation is interesting. I spend a large part of my time doing
> flash development, and the pervasiveness and importance of the flash
> platform creates a really serious problem with the religious perspective
> about everything openmoko being open source.

So you admit being one of those "evil" people that make websites inaccessable.
Not only for people who think flash is evil because it is closed, but also for
those who think the flash licence is unacceptable (like me. No I do NOT want
to grant Adobe access to my computer because I install their flash plugin.) or
for the blind.

> Flash is a critical element of the internet ecosystem and it is closed
> source. Gnash is *not* a solution. I can tell you this as someone who spends
> hours a day in the flash environment. Flash is moving far too fast to use
> only a platform that is **years** behind for the benefit of being purely
> open source. 

Well gnash is improving, it is really slow though and eats lots of resources.
But apart from the missing features due to lack of documentation, flash itself
is unsuitable for embedded systems due to being a huge resource hog. The
proprietary flash plugins on the Nokia 770 and n800 are so slow just because
they don't have so much processing power to spend on it. Flash btw kills
battery life on those devices, just as it does on my laptop and will on an
OpenMoko phone.

A quick glance at the system requirements (for Linux as they seem to be a bit
lower for Windows). 800Mhz cpu (which means x86 based with floating point),
512Mb of ram and 128Mb of graphics memory. Lets look at the Neo. 200Mhz ARM
WITHOUT floating point, 128Mb ram and no real graphics memory...

> The flash development community, of which I am a part, is
> aggressively taking advantage of new features and the adoption of the latest
> version (flash 9) is faster than any previous version.

Unless you work for Adobe you are part of the flash user community...

> As I see it, not having a real version of flash makes openmoko much less
> disruptively competitive than it might otherwise be. 

Which is partly true. However downloading flash over GPRS is not very
interesting. And it would only be disruptive because unfortunately so many
people are expecting people to install flash. What would be really disruptive
is an standardized and open framework that allows the same things as flash
which everybody could with relative ease make use of. Something that might be
supported by default in a browser. Adobe has a stranglehold monopoly on this
flash thing at the moment. Which makes them no better than Microsoft messing
up the HTML standard with IE and Frontpage.

> Developing apps with
> flash really allows for the creation of much more sophisticated software
> much more quickly. 

It is true that flash has some nice features, however using something that is
open and standardized has a lot more possibilities. Lots of things that can be
done with flash could also be done with SVG etc... 

> Of course flash 9 is currently not compiled for ARM, but
> that will come. I just think that it would be incredibly valuable to the
> platform to get flash 9 as soon as possible and not to worry about the open
> religion in this arena. 

As I pointed out there are also valid technical reasons like performance and
battery life. Also licensing, access to the source code for optimisations and
patents are an issue. 

> If the internet can survive with some closed source
> apps, openmoko can too.

I would rather say the internet survives despite closed source and
non-standard apps and tools.


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