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As discussed in a separate question, embedded flash videos are abnormally heavy on GPU resources.

The answer given by izx here (and namely in one comment) shows that

”Flash 11+ "attempts" (poorly, it looks like) to use the GPU (hardware) to "decode" the video instead of the CPU (software). Decoding is a fairly computationally intensive task, but most modern CPUs (except Atoms) will deal with 1080P HD without breaking a sweat.”.

So, it seems that a solution would be opening those videos in external players, even without downloading them, so as to put to work the CPU instead of the GPU.

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Heavy CPU usage is not restricted to VIDEO but also applies to STREAMING AUDIO (e.g. RADIO stations) in Firefox or Chromium; streaming in VLC is sooo much more lightweight in comparison! –  nutty about natty Feb 17 '13 at 11:15
@nuttyaboutnatty - the method i use for radios is adding their location in a player (i use [deadbeef]( for that). in this way i have created long radio playlists that i can save, reuse, share, etc - like this –  cipricus May 8 '13 at 9:57

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

As this question looks useful to me, I have created it in order to provide an answer. (The meta issue of doing this was discussed and answered (here and here).


The solutions contained in the initial answer that was set as definitive are in the second part of this answer. I have found a better and more general solution, involving the use of the well-known Firefox addon FlashGot, which is meant to send video streams to different download managers. What if it were used to send the URL stream to VLC, for example?

  • add VLC to Flashgot list: FlashGot options, General tab, Add, give a name 'VLC' , - then go to the VLC executable and select it

enter image description here enter image description here

  • FlashGot options, FlashGot tab, choose VLC

enter image description here

  • playing the video in Firefox, a Flashgot button should appear (add that to the toolbar or the status bar). Right-click the button, Available formats, and left-click the video. VLC should start playing the video stream

enter image description here

1. SMPlayer. - limited to youtube (unless used with the solution above: have not tested that yet)

Install via the software center

and the Youtube Browser

Install via the software center

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:rvm/smplayer
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install smplayer smtube

enter image description here

It starts the separate application, SMPlayer Youtube Browser, to search for videos. One can create a link/desktop launcher to it, enter image description here

or just run


2. Using VLC. It looks like VLC is able to start videos of this kind from more websites, while smplayer is limited to youtube.

Install via the software center

One can add the link to the video in VLC enter image description here

3. Using Totem:

Install via the software center

Some plugins are available for Totem player, among which a youtube browser similar to that of SMPlayer. You can open youtube videos in Totem, at lower quality it seems than in the previous options, but they load faster and are perfect for listening music from youtube.

enter image description here

There is also an arte-tv plugin for Totem that is not working at the moment... but maybe it will in the future... and supplementary plugins, including a BBC iPlayer. (The later no better than the one for arte-tv I fear.)

But there is a more elegant method:

using add-ons/extensions to open the external players directly from the internet browser's interface or context menu.

Firefox Openwith addon, created initially to open links in different web browsers, can do just that, by adding in its Preferences vlc and smtube instead of/beside browsers .

enter image description here enter image description here

In Chromium there is an extension to start youtubes in VLC - here.

To use it, the youtube video has to be playing, the VLC web interface has to be enabled (VLC Tools-Preferences-Show Settings -All-Interface-Main-enable Web, restart VLC) and VLC has to be already open. enter image description here

enter image description here

While VLC seems able to do this outside youtube, it has limitations when dealing with other websites. In Dailymotion works perfectly, but on Google videos it already may have problems, in others it's the OpenWith addon that would not work. I hadn't time to test them enough, I'll update this post in time, and invite comments and edits that would help find ways to open any embedded flash in VLC or other external player.

(This answer was based on ideas coming from izx, Halknner and user55822 as they answered or commented on other question.)

There is a VLC add-on to play YouTube videos and playlists - here

Copy the URL of the youtube video or playlist (must contain "list=PL...") Start VLC, press Ctrl+N, paste the url then click on "Play" (or Alt+P then Enter), the video /playlist should start.

enter image description here

In 'Media', 'Save Playlist to File' and may open it later in VLC.

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Since some years, I'm usually grabbing flash files directly from the /proc directory, when they are here, in order to play them with VLC, which is by far the best tool around to watch videos.

It's not working with youtube, but it works great with most of the other Streaming website. I finally decided to make it more usable by writing some proper function to use within your shell.

Feel free to try it, it works great:

$ curl -SsL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/beaudev/view-da-flash/master/view_da_flash.sh>source

$ view_daflash

Source : https://github.com/beaudev/view-da-flash

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There is actually a pretty cool way to view all flash videos outside of your browser. But at the moment I only know it works on chrome and chromium. Before the page with the flash player loads press ctrl+shift+J This will open a tab at the bottom of the screen, it will have different tabbed options, one of them is NETWORK. You go into that one and open the flash video when it loads the link to the video will appear there all you have to do is copy it either to VLC or totem both of them play streams.

I'm a huge VLC fan, but I gotta give it to TOTEm in this one it loads the videos a la flash if you leave it paused it will download the video VLC will not.

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in what way is this different from my answer on vlc and totem? –  cipricus Jul 4 '13 at 6:33

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