My experience with Flash on Linux has been a roller coaster. In the beginning, we had to use a wrapper to get the Windows plugin to load, or use Wine to install Firefox. In both cases, performance was excruciating. I was still using Windows fairly heavily, so it wasn’t too terrible. If I really needed to see something in Flash, I’d reboot.

It got a little better when Adobe finally released a 32bit version for Linux. About the same time, I was trying really hard to make the move from 32bit Linux to 64bit Linux. The move was nearly as painful as it was to switch from Windows to Linux. It wasn’t really until about Fedora 7 that I really started feeling like 64bit Linux was going to be worth my time and energy. I still kept 32bit linux on my laptop, but converted my work station to 64bit. My desktop at home went back and forth, but still primarily ran Windows.

Later, Adobe finally released an Alpha version of Flash 10 for 64bit linux. I was over joyed. I finally felt like my Browsing experience was somewhat normal on a 64bit linux machine. Chrome and Chromium really helped that along as well. However, I still felt like HD video was still sub-par on Flash, regardless of OS.

With nVidia and ATI announcing GPU-enhanced video decoding, I jumped on that bandwagon really quick. I’ve never had a lot of success with ATI, so most of my systems are running nVidia GPUs. My first experience with VDPAU was awe-inspiring. No more tearing, no more dropped frames, and no more over-worked CPU causing my less-than-quite CPU fan to kick into high gear. Then I learned that Flash 10.1 is supposed to support GPU-enhanced video decoding, but for windows only. I can’t ever say I was impressed with their product, and it certainly never performed like an external video player. Hulu and Youtube HD videos were still choppy and tearing, even on Windows 7. Then Flash 10.1 32-bit came to Linux, and boasted their GPU-enhanced video decoding, but it required a newer version of the Video Drivers that weren’t out for Linux yet. So I waited.

Today, we have a Linux/Windows 32bit simultaneous release of Adobe Flash 10.1, which is both a step forward and a step backwards. I love that Linux is getting enough attention to be released with Windows at the same time, but 32bit? Really?

Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 are basically the same OS, right? (Like Server 2008 and Vista, and Server 2003 and XP). Did you know that Win2k8 R2 isn’t available in 32bit? Makes me wonder if Windows 7 32-bit was just an afterthought, or maybe just for the 32bit netbooks. If we believe that Adobe is trying to cater to Microsoft (which the dual release would speak against), why aren’t they pushing 64bit software? Is it because Browser software isn’t 64bit? Mozilla doesn’t publish a Win64 version of their Firefox browser. You have to go somewhere else to learn how to compile the browser yourself.

At the same time Adobe releases 10.1, they discontinue the Beta 10.0 for 64bit Linux, but don’t open a 10.1 Alpha or Beta for Linux. So where are we now? I, for one, am going to see how long I can survive with out Flash on my 64bit Linux boxes. I’m simply not motivated to go backwards and try to install 32bit firefox just so I can have flash. It just doesn’t make sense to me at all.