[Foundation-l] [Commons-l] How non-free is Flash?

Gregory Maxwell gmaxwell at gmail.com
Tue Mar 6 15:49:00 UTC 2007

On 3/6/07, Husky <huskyr at gmail.com> wrote:
> I'm pretty impressed by the Cortado demo. I'm not sure how well it competes
> with Flash video on lower-end machines (i'm at a high-end machine right
> now), but it seems like a really good alternative for presenting in-line
> video on Wikimedia projects. One of the main hassles for incorporating
> videos on Wikimedia projects (aside from the copyright and bandwidth issues)
> always seemed to be the lack of widely available Theora support. With
> everyone being accustomed by YouTube working right out of the box it seems a
> bit weird that you ask people to download a codec and install it, or use an
> alternative player. This works right out of the box, in Firefox at least. I
> had to download the J2RE on IE 6.
> If we could use this in some way it would be a great addition to the
> projects.

*Sigh* We had a SOC project last year to provide integrated mediawiki
support for this, but it appears to have fizzled.

I threw up an audio only version (using jorbis) a while back to
demonstrate that it could be done for the non-believers. It's used
many tens of thousands of times a week. The only complaint I get about
it these days is due to a longstanding image server problem which
causes us to send zero byte files which get stuck in squid, rendering
some audio files useless.

I was hoping that my quick hack would inspire someone to do it right
and include video support, but it hasn't yet.  It would be easy enough
to do the same kind of hack for video, but we really should get proper

As far as performance goes, it will run great on any system which as
good as the system requirements for modern versions of flash. :)

Depending on who's numbers you believe Java penetration is someplace
between very sightly less than flash and substantially less but still
a clear majority. I suspect it depends on what sort of user's you're
polling.. Java being more commonly found on computers used for
business, while flash is almost excursively used for entertainment.

The last weeks data of 143,530 unique IPs shows that 79% of the IPs
hitting the Java audio player on toolserver have a Java Virtual
Machine. However, of those only 78% (61% of the total) have a JRE new
enough to use Jorbis. I believe Cortando has a resampler in it to
permit it work on the old MSFT JVMs, so it should do better.  The
number is skewed a bit by the fact that people without java are
unlikely to vist again soon since it didn't work, and are somewhat
better than my initial numbers, but I've also improved compatibility
dramatically since then.

These numbers are consistent with the higher estimates of Java
penetration vs flash.

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