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First off, I've read through this question: How to install minecraft?. I'm interested in the free web-embedded version (for demo purposes), not the paid and downloaded .jar file.

I removed the open-java whatever that Ubuntu prefers to use. I installed sun-java6-jre. Then I ran sudo update-alternatives --config java to ensure I was using Sun's Java. Restarted my browsers, then tried to start the game from: http://www.minecraft.net/play.jsp

It pops a prompt to make sure I really want to allow direct interaction between minecraft.net and my computer, I agree. The in browser display mumbles something about loading a library, then darkness. The page doesn't crash, ps shows the java plugin process, all seems well except the game doesn't load.

I see the same behaviour on Chromium 11.0.662.0 (73963) as Firefox 4 RC1.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Took a look at about:plugins on Chromium and noticed IcedTea was still being used for eris knows what reason. One apt-get purge icedtea6-plugin and I finally get to try this intriguing 8-bit(-ish) graphic game.

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Are you using compiz? If so, try disabling it while loading the demo. Java has been known to not function well with compiz.

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No compiz. In fact, usually no gnome, although I see the same behaviour when I try it in a gnome-session. WMFS or blackbox is the window manager of choice. –  djeikyb Mar 11 '11 at 23:37
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