Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Flash Alternatives for Debian/MintPPC

UPDATE: The Minitube problem is actually a Gstreamer bug that prevents playback of some mp4s encoded with ffmpeg.

UPDATE 2: FlashVideoReplacer has ceased development and the developer has removed it from Firefox's add-on site. I subsequently wrote about another flash alternative, quvi, here, and some cross platform alternatives here.

Given that the Youtube player Minitube is somewhat broken in Debian Wheezy (about half the videos don't load), Linux PowerPC users may be interested to know there are some alternatives to Flash so you too won't be deprived of watching time-wasting Youtube videos day and night (this is not a confession).

Probably the best way is with the Iceweasel add-on FlashVideoReplacer. I've written about this add-on before for OS X, but the Linux version allows you to pass on videos to a standalone player, no flash or Quicktime plug-ins necessary. So you can have them stream in gnome-mplayer or xine or whatever, and you got Youtube videos on your desktop. Or if your CPU's too slow to be downloading and playing simultaneously, you can just use FlashVideoReplacer's download option and play the video afterward.

There's just one problem with that, though. FlashVideoReplacer only works on Mozilla browsers, so if you're using Midori (webkit) you're out of luck. Or are you? Turns out Midori can use some Greasemonkey scripts, one of which is Viewtube. You have to enable user add-ons in the extensions section of the preferences, then at go to the Viewtube page and click the install button. The next time you visit Youtube you'll see non-flash playback options just above the video frame.

There's also html 5, but on PowerPC I don't think you get any hardware acceleration so you probably need a G5 to get something playable. Also, a flash section at Ubuntu's PowerPC FAQ talks about Gnash and Lightspark and a few other suggestions like spoofing your browser's user agent to a mobile device.

Also, Defunct, alas.

h/t to the users at the MintPPC forums for providing much of this information.


  1. HTML5 works very and very well.
    Also, there's for HD (1080p) youtube movies.

  2. PPCluddite, getting big enough to be spammed !

    Your advice is, as usual, excellent. I have nothing to ad. I do have a question though...Charles Moore at says Tenfourfox is now pretty much unusable on his Pismo with a 500 mhz G4. Since you are rocking a similar chip (granted you have a whole bunch more video RAM on that Powermac than that Pismo has) have you experienced the same thing. Herr Kaiser says tenfourfox gets faster with each build. My very, unbenchmarked casual experience is its seems slower with each build. Iceweasel 7 on mintPPC positively flies compared to tenfourfox.

  3. After the release of 10, I gave myself a break from upgrading since it was an extended support release. I'll upgrade to the 13 or 14 beta version, though. In my experience, TenFourFox got slower in versions 9 & 10.0.1, but then got faster again in 10.0.2 or 10.0.3 when he added some sort of javascript speedup. I think it's all about javascript which many sites seem to be relying more on, and keeping it fast is all about using NoScript judiciously.

    There's something about XulRunner (Mozilla's engine) that always sucked on OS X. Back when Firefox was still supported, the same version on Linux would fly in comparison to the OS X version, even on the same hardware. I don't think Kaiser can do anything about that.

  4. And as to Charles Moore's issue, extended spinning beach balls haven't been my experience, but it sounds like he may not have enough memory. Either that or his cache and application support folders could use a spring cleaning.

  5. I've stumbled upon your blog after purchasing a $30 Pismo (400) and I am so thankful for your write-ups. After reading some more on here I've decided to drop the change (as I love the Pismo) for a G4 chip and 2x 512MB DIMMS and use this machine as my primary computer for one solid year (using Debian 6; if I could get Mint running on it I would... I may try again once I swap the 40GB HD in). Thanks for your work here, it's so very helpful!

  6. Running debian stable on a G5 PPC dual core 2.0Ghz it runs great, but has no hardware accelerated video.

    Ubuntu is using much newer code, so it will either work better, or worse :)

  7. I run Debian stable on IBM rs600 with Power 5+ CPU
    No problems at all - I had to swap a graphics card - I got ppc version of radeon 9000 (for macs) works 100% even pre-boot console etc.. This machine is a monster it had 8 gigs of ram in 2004 - 32gb supported. I wont swpa it for some cheep gamers PC crap ;) anytime soon

    1. How did you get it to boot? I have a Intellistation 285 and I can't get the bootloader installed and configured properly at the end of the installation.

      It's a fantastic machine indeed, but not very useful in AIX (beyond my studies)

  8. Great blog! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I'm completely new to Linux and had to use it in this old PowerBook G4, you've helped me the most so far!