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Operating Systems

Play Flash and QuickTime files in Ubuntu

After much searching and several downloads, the files required to run Flash and QuickTime movies in Ubuntu 7.10 are in place.

I'm starting to wonder if anything about Linux is going to be easy. But I remain undaunted in my efforts to use Ubuntu 7.10, or Gutsy Gibbon, to accomplish the same computing tasks for which I use Windows. Now that I've got Flash and QuickTime working in Ubuntu, I feel like I'm nearly there.

I say "nearly" because I'm still running into some glitches, this week relating to getting the full suite of updates available for Gutsy installed. The update failure is a minor inconvenience compared to the crashes I experienced last week whenever I tried to run a Flash or QuickTime video.

After poking around the Linux forums, I found out that Ubuntu installs a la carte: only the truly free supporting software is included in the default installation, which excludes proprietary media players such as Adobe's Flash and Apple's QuickTime. To get these restricted formats to play, you have to install a set of files called ubuntu-restricted-extras.

Once I got them loaded, I checked the Synaptic Package Manager and found their listing. I still had to find, download, and install the Flash Player for Linux. I'm not going to complain about the multiple steps required, though. Compared to Windows' kitchen sink approach to software installation and updating, I'm coming to appreciate Ubuntu's download-as-needed philosophy.

Ubuntu 7.10's Synaptic Package Manager listing for ubuntu-restricted-extras
To get Flash, QuickTime, and other proprietary media players to work in Ubuntu, you have to install a set of files manually.

After I reopened Firefox, the Flash and QuickTime files that previously sent Ubuntu into a tailspin ran without a hitch. Even though the process took me about three hours of searching, downloading, installing, downloading some more, and installing some more, I'm becoming familiar with the operating system.

Using Ubuntu's Terminal applet for system maintenance is similar to the old DOS days of living on the command line. You won't save much time initially when you switch from Windows to Ubuntu, but once you get used to the Linux style of computing, I bet you'll spend more time working and less time futzing with your "tools".

That's not to say everything's peachy for me on Linux Street: right now, the update notification icon keeps telling me that there's an update available, but when I run the Update Manager, the file xserver-xorg-core won't download. It's a minor annoyance, I know, but when I close the error dialog box, the updater keeps prompting me to download the update. I have no idea how important the file is--or whether I really need it. All I know is that I can't get it.

Ubuntu 7.10's Update Manager error message
Ubuntu's Update Manager can't download a file the Notification alert recommends that you install.

Apart from this minor annoyance, I'm pretty happy about the progress I've made as a Linux neophyte. I'm a long way from wiping Windows off the drives of my other PCs, but it's a heck of a start.

Tomorrow: Five super Office add-ons.