Yesterday I finally tired of the horrible things that the flash plugin I was using did to my CPU from time to time. Seeing as I was using the adobe version, I thought it might be worth trying to install one of the open source alternatives.

Most recently, I had heard about Gnash, leading me to give that option a try first. After a bit of work getting it working with Firefox (more to do with the fact I had far too many tabs open at the time, so had to close all of them so that Firefox could restart) I managed to get it working. Immediately I ran into trouble. Perhaps the most obvious first was the problem on Youtube - for every video that was played, the Youtube cookie had to be deleted or else no other videos could play, citing that an error had occurred. The death blow for Gnash on my system would not come until the following morning.

The first time I got on my computer this morning, I found it horribly non-responsive. Once I fired up Conky (which I have configured to show CPU load, memory load and the top three offenders for both) I discovered that 99% of my RAM and 99% of my Swap file were currently in use, all in the employ of Gnash - around 8 gigs of memory. Once I searched through the process list for Gnash, I discovered that one instance of it had remained, despite the fact the site it was from was closed. Immediately after I killed the process, my memory was back to regular usage. Needless to say, Gnash was purged from my machine shortly thereafter.

Following my troubles with Gnash, I decided to try the only other alternative to adobe flash I had seen, specifically swfdec. Although it did not consume all of my memory, it too failed me, not playing even a single video. As a result, it too was removed.

Unfortunately, I know find myself stuck with the adobe version of flash once more. With luck, having cleared out Firefox may have fixed some of my issues, but I am disappointed to find that there is no good solution - just a least bad one. I’ll put up a short guide for installing adobe flash on Gentoo (to deal with the license) shortly.