I'd like to setup my Ubuntu to work without Flash (= not installed), but still be able to view videos on sites like Youtube, wisevid, etc.

I want to try this because recently Flash has crashed a couple times. It also often 'feels' sluggish. Also a couple other flash related questions here got me thinking there might be a better way of doing things.

So how should i do this?

Note: Answers that have flash + work-arounds are also welcome.

  • Any reason why you don't want to use Flash? Sep 18, 2010 at 22:33
  • 3
    Yes. Recently it has crashed a couple times. It also often 'feels' sluggish. And a couple other flash related questions here got me thinking there might be a better way of doing things.
    – Detnuomnu
    Sep 19, 2010 at 8:39
  • 1
    Are you using 64 bit Ubuntu, Chrome and Flash? Sep 19, 2010 at 13:38
  • 32 bit Ubuntu, Chromium (preferred) and Firefox and Flash. That was before the fresh install. :)
    – Detnuomnu
    Sep 20, 2010 at 9:11

15 Answers 15


On sites that support it, set videos to use HTML5.

For flash only sites you could use one of the free flash implementations - Gnash and Lightspark.

If you want to avoid flash plugins completely, you can attempt to download the video and then play with VLC. There are some programs that can help to do this. The following are available from the software repositories:

  • youtube-dl (command line) - downloads videos from youtube
  • clive (command line) - downloads videos from a number of websites
  • cclive (command line) - a C++ rewrite of clive
  • abby (graphical) - A GUI frontend to clive or cclive

Not all video websites are supported but for some that aren't you may be able to find the URL of the video that is streaming and download it using wget or a GUI downloader such as d4x. Finding the video URL will require looking at the HTML code. To do this in chromium, you can right click next to the video and click 'inspect element'. You will be able to find the video URL within <embed></embed> tags. It will typically have a .flv or .avi extension. This will only work for websites that do not encrypt the URL (like youtube and megavideo do).

You can 'stream' a video (play it while it is downloading) by opening VLC and using Media->Open File... and locating the video or running vlc FILE in a terminal.

There are also browser extensions available, such as this one for firefox.


If you want to avoid flash and still go ahead and watch YouTube videos, install LightSpark, an open-source implementation of the Flash Player that works well in Ubuntu. Just run the below commands in a terminal (Applications->Accessories->Terminal):

sudo apt-get remove flashplugin-installer

The above commmand is to make sure you don't have flash installed. After that, to install lightspark, run the below commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:sssup/sssup-ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install lightspark

Then close and start your browser (Chromium/Firefox) again to begin using LightSpark

  • 1
    how does this compare to flash? and to gnash? - stability, bugs, etc.
    – Detnuomnu
    Sep 18, 2010 at 18:02
  • i installed this, but how to use it? youtube is giving missing plugin message.
    – Detnuomnu
    Sep 19, 2010 at 11:34
  • You need gnash for this. Lightspark should have installed Gnash.
    – Broam
    Sep 20, 2010 at 17:13
  • Gnash wasnt installed untill i installed the plugin vinnie_f suggested. Anyways ive given it a quick testdrive on a couple of sites: Its VERY CPU intensive, and not all flash files are supported yet. The only site that actually played back well was youtube, and there the panel was unusable and the buffering 'ring' stuck in the middle during playback....... looks promising though
    – Detnuomnu
    Sep 20, 2010 at 22:05

For YouTube videos you can use minitube

sudo apt-get install minitube

Minitube is a YouTube desktop client. With it you can watch YouTube videos in a new way: you type a keyword, Minitube gives you an endless video stream. Minitube is not about cloning the original YouTube web interface, it aims to create a new TV-like experience.

Minitube does not use the Flash Player.



There is no need to install any extra software like minitube. Your totem, the default movie player in Ubuntu itself is able to play YouTube videos for you.

Check this link. Hope this will help .


  • good tip. i like solutions that dont require any extra software.
    – Detnuomnu
    Oct 31, 2010 at 20:35

in addition to @Bilal Akhtar answer I suggest to install the browser plugin in order to make it work on firefox & chorminium

sudo apt-get install browser-plugin-lightspark
  • I've tried the lightspark + browser plugin setup and in my opinion it's not yet on point. Adobe plugin totally suck but at least its a little bit more stable...
    – vinni_f
    Sep 21, 2010 at 13:46

You can restart the flash plug-in when the browser becomes sluggish.

In Google Chrome:

Task_Manager (Shift+Escape) -> End process on "Plug-in: Shockwave Flash"

In Firefox 3.6.5+:

killall plugin-container
  • More generally, use a browser that isolates its plugins in separate processes, so that when flash crashes, the browser doesn't. Both Firefox and Google Chrome provides this, along with probably many others I'm not aware of. Oct 26, 2010 at 1:11

Lightspark repository for Natty, Oneiric, Precise
(ppa:sssup/sssup-ppa don't have last two and amd64 packages):

   sudo add-apt-repository ppa:sparkers/daily

youtube-dl was already mentioned as an very convenient and open-source alternative to a flash-plugin. Other examples of site-specific flash substitute programs are:


The GUI downloader I use is DonwloadHelper http://www.downloadhelper.net/ Works great for me (Ubuntu 10.4 AMD64 and Firefox).

Flash has been crashing for me lately as well (or so Firefox Tells me), but it still running anyway, just close the notification bar with the little "x". If you run Yahoo in a tab, then close that tab, that seems to eventually bring Firefox to a crawl. I stopped using Yahoo and switched to Gmail (plus my other e-mails like hotmail)...



I think you can use greasemonkey userscripts for this. Here are some examples.




For downloading here is an app


Install flash anyway... but only for the videos to "load" on the page... then, go to /tmp/ and for a video (hint: search for a video preview), and open the downloaded video in VLC for example :P
You may want too add a "flash blocker" to your browser to prevent load flash objects unwanted...

  • wont a flash blocker prevent the movie from loading? Anyways will give this a try.
    – Detnuomnu
    Sep 20, 2010 at 9:16
  • yes, but you can "click" on a blocked flash to play it..
    – Axel
    Sep 20, 2010 at 12:06
  • Blocked flash does not prevent the security problems or crash issues OP is having.
    – Broam
    Sep 20, 2010 at 17:12
  • for waht i understand, flashblock can block flash before them to load... so, there are no security or crash problems, unless he decides to load explicitly a flash..
    – Axel
    Sep 20, 2010 at 17:39
  • Flashblock can be worked around: see hackademix.net/2008/06/08/block-rick
    – Broam
    Sep 22, 2010 at 15:51

For what it's worth, since installing the new ‘preview release’ of Flash Player 10.2 I've not had a single crash (which is a great improvement; previously Flash has been wicked unstable for me on both Linux and Windows).

I couple this with FlashBlock (for Firefox, though there is a similar add-on with the same name for Chrome) to avoid unwanted Flash ads, Flash-storage user-tracking and exploits.


My preferred way is to use this script that takes the Flash video and opens it automatically with your favorite media player (Gnome MPlayer, VLC, etc.).

Make sure that you have zsh installed:

apt-get install zsh

Then in /usr/local/bin/ create an executable play-flash file containing the following script:


 VIDEOS=($(find /proc/*/fd -lname "/tmp/Flash*" 2> /dev/null))

 if [[ $#VIDEOS == 0 ]]; then
        echo "No videos found"
        exit 0

 if [[ $#VIDEOS == 1 ]]; then
        echo "Playing unique video available"
        gnome-mplayer --controlid=1 $VIDEOS
        exit 1

 IFS=$'\n' VIDEOS_LS=($(ls -1lHh $VIDEOS))
 select CHOICE in $VIDEOS_LS; do
        if test $REPLY -ge 0 2>/dev/null ; then # just test for integer argument
                gnome-mplayer --controlid=1 $VIDEOS[$REPLY]
        elif [[ $REPLY[1] == c ]]; then
                if read "NAME?Name? "; then
                        if [[ -z $NAME ]]; then
                                NAME=$(ls -l $VIDEO | grep --only-matching "Flash[^ ]*")
                        echo "cp $VIDEO ~/\"$NAME.flv\""
                        cp -i $VIDEO ~/"$NAME.flv"

If you're using Xfce (but it should be similar for other DEs), now you can create a panel launcher that executes this script. But do make sure that the launcher has enabled the Run in terminal option:

enter image description here

Every time you load a Flash video in your browser and pause it, and then hit the panel launcher, you will either have the video played or you will have a selection of currently loaded flash videos to choose from. I've used this solution for years and it works very well. (Sometimes it doesn't work as expected on Youtube, but it works most of the times with most other websites.) It improves the flash experience, and reduces the number of CPU cycles and the temp of the laptop. Once the downloading of the .flv file is complete, you can easily save a copy from within the media player.


If you only like to watch the youtube videos, you can with vlc. Only thing you need to copy the youtube URL and paste to the VLC main window and hit Play (enter). You also can drag and drop the URL from the browser to the vlc main window with mouse or touchpad. It even easier.


At jan-2012, you may solved the problems. But, one must have in mind that Ubuntu does not upgrade software to a newer version than that in the release. If you have ubuntu 10.04 you can enter getdeb in the repositories, by this way you can upgrade to the last version of programs, although not from the ubuntu official site. By now I have FireFox 9.0.1, it works very fine. I can see videos from many sites, including youtube of course.

64bit processors are not new at 2010, many computers manufactured by 2006 have one of those. Linux does not have problem to address 4GB of ram, but windows does, for that reason the manufacturers more recently sell their computers with 64bit windows versions, being 64bit every time more common, for that reason the absence of 64bit plugins is disappearing. Not so the monopolistic imposition of the monopoly's OS.

Firefox 9 is also working very well under w7-64.

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