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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Sun, 26 Jun 2011

I hate to say it, but one of the first things you need to do in Debian is remove Gnash

It’s been a long time since I did a new Debian Squeeze installation, and I was just reminded about one essential step needed to make a functional desktop.

I’ve been running my Squeeze LXDE system today, and all of a sudden the CPU was pegged at 100 percent during a Firefox/Iceweasel session.

I opened up a terminal and took a look. Five Gnash processes were doing all of the damage.

Normally I’d enthusiastically support something like Gnash, a free alternative to Flash, but not when it brings my system to its virtual knees.

As before, I methodically killed every Gnash process, brought the machine back to the living and then removed Gnash. Unfortunately (or not) it took some 60 packages with it. Here is the terminal session:

# aptitude remove gnash
The following packages will be REMOVED:
gnash
0 packages upgraded, 0 newly installed, 1 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 0 B of archives. After unpacking 512 kB will be freed.
The following packages have unmet dependencies:
browser-plugin-gnash: Depends: gnash (= 0.8.8-5) but it is not going to be installed.
The following actions will resolve these dependencies:

Remove the following packages:
1) browser-plugin-gnash

Accept this solution? [Y/n/q/?] y
The following packages will be REMOVED:
browser-plugin-gnash{a} freepats{u} gnash gnash-common{u}
gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg{u} gstreamer0.10-fluendo-mp3{u}
gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad{u} gstreamer0.10-plugins-base{u} libass4{u}
libavcodec52{u} libavformat52{u} libavutil49{u}
libboost-date-time1.42.0{u} libboost-thread1.42.0{u} libcdaudio1{u}
libcdparanoia0{u} libcelt0-0{u} libdc1394-22{u} libdca0{u}
libdirac-encoder0{u} libdirectfb-1.2-9{u} libdvdnav4{u} libdvdread4{u}
libenca0{u} libexempi3{u} libfaad2{u} libfftw3-3{u} libflac8{u}
libflite1{u} libgif4{u} libgme0{u} libgsm1{u} libgtkglext1{u}
libiptcdata0{u} libjack-jackd2-0{u} libkate1{u} libmimic0{u} libmms0{u}
libmodplug1{u} libmpcdec6{u} libmusicbrainz4c2a{u} libofa0{u}
liboil0.3{u} libopenspc0{u} liborc-0.4-0{u} libpostproc51{u}
libraw1394-11{u} libschroedinger-1.0-0{u} libsdl1.2debian{u}
libsdl1.2debian-alsa{u} libslv2-9{u} libsndfile1{u} libsoundtouch1c2{u}
libspeex1{u} libsvga1{u} libswscale0{u} libtheora0{u} libts-0.0-0{u}
libvisual-0.4-0{u} libvisual-0.4-plugins{u} libvorbisenc2{u} libvpx0{u}
libwildmidi1{u} libzbar0{u} tsconf{u}
0 packages upgraded, 0 newly installed, 65 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 0 B of archives. After unpacking 109 MB will be freed.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n/?] y
(Reading database … 67592 files and directories currently installed.)
Removing browser-plugin-gnash …
Removing freepats …
Removing gnash …
Removing gnash-common …
Removing gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg …
Removing gstreamer0.10-fluendo-mp3 …
Removing gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad …
Removing gstreamer0.10-plugins-base …
Removing libass4 …
Removing libavformat52 …
Removing libavcodec52 …
Removing libswscale0 …
Removing libpostproc51 …
Removing libavutil49 …
Removing libboost-date-time1.42.0 …
Removing libboost-thread1.42.0 …
Removing libcdaudio1 …
Removing libcdparanoia0 …
Removing libcelt0-0 …
Removing libdc1394-22 …
Removing libdca0 …
Removing libdirac-encoder0 …
Removing libsdl1.2debian …
Removing libsdl1.2debian-alsa …
Removing libdirectfb-1.2-9 …
Removing libdvdnav4 …
Removing libdvdread4 …
Removing libenca0 …
Removing libexempi3 …
Removing libfaad2 …
Removing libofa0 …
Removing libfftw3-3 …
Removing libsndfile1 …
Removing libflac8 …
Removing libflite1 …
Removing libgif4 …
Removing libgme0 …
Removing libgsm1 …
Removing libgtkglext1 …
Removing libiptcdata0 …
Removing libjack-jackd2-0 …
Removing libkate1 …
Removing libmimic0 …
Removing libmms0 …
Removing libmodplug1 …
Removing libmpcdec6 …
Removing libmusicbrainz4c2a …
Removing liboil0.3 …
Removing libopenspc0 …
Removing libschroedinger-1.0-0 …
Removing liborc-0.4-0 …
Removing libraw1394-11 …
Removing libslv2-9 …
Removing libsoundtouch1c2 …
Removing libspeex1 …
Removing libsvga1 …
Removing libtheora0 …
Removing libts-0.0-0 …
Removing libvisual-0.4-plugins …
Removing libvisual-0.4-0 …
Removing libvorbisenc2 …
Removing libvpx0 …
Removing libwildmidi1 …
Removing libzbar0 …
Removing tsconf …
Processing triggers for man-db …
Processing triggers for shared-mime-info …
Processing triggers for install-info …

#

———————————–

Nice, huh? I haven’t set up any multimedia on this system yet, so I imagine that I’ll bring at least a few of these packages back in the future.

This is one of the cautionary tales of Debian Stable: You can be stuck with a package that doesn’t work well at all yet is included in the default installation. As much as I’d like Gnash to work, it too often spawns a half-dozen processes that never stop and make your machine unusable while giving you little or nothing in return in terms of functionality.

Something like this is OK on an install-it-yourself, experimental basis. But it should in no way be included in the default installation. It’s the antithesis of Stable.

So you see there’s often a dark side to the never-changing aspects of Debian Stable.

Possible solutions for this issue are a newer Gnash from Backports, Sid or Wheezy, using the nonfree Flash plugin (which I usually do), or removing Gnash and not using a Flash equivalent at all (which is where I’m at right now and may stay on this particular machine).

<h3>Comments</h3>
12 comments

Celsius1414

Monday, June 27, 2011 - 02:54:05

I’ve been mentally listing the websites I frequent that make use of Flash. There are only a handful for me, but one (YouTube) I signed up for the HTML5 beta on. Others, I can only hope move along with that trend. Flash is the single most buggy, resource-hungry piece of software on my home compy, which is an Acer netbook and therefore not really up to the task of compensating for the Flash horrors (though I make do).

My real reason for making that list is trying to decide if the info I want (like, say, live MLB scores) is available in some other method, and therefore giving me an excuse to uninstall it. (This is the non-free Flash plugin, not Gnash, though the latter was worse when I tried it in the past.)

I suppose another route would be to uninstall in Firefox, but leave it in Chromium so I can get to it easy enough if need be.

hermes

Monday, June 27, 2011 - 07:11:43

Why don’t you just apt-get remove –purge it? It would just remove gnash and a couple of packages. Aptitude is far more aggressive on default packages and I think it should not be used for such purpose.
Any apt instance that removes or pulls unwanted packages is a false solution IMHO.

dothebart

Monday, June 27, 2011 - 10:44:19

isn’t that intended behaviour? since the closed source flash hogs cpu, the opensource do - a - like has to too? ;-)
I like noscript to save me from most of the flash shit around.

dj

Monday, June 27, 2011 - 12:26:46

you mention you used lxde on squeeze. did you install lxde separately, or use the lxde alternate desktop option of the normal install.

I wonder because I indstalled lxde as the alternate desktop and had several problems. if i changed the wall paper, every log in it would revert back to the original. i had problems getting my touch pad working properly ( tap to click was available in the mouse/touchpad applet, but it didn’t work. ). I didn’t have problems like this in squeeze gnome.

I was thinking about reinstalling with gnome and just adding lxde to see if some of the problems went away. Just curious which method you used and if you had any of issues like this? ( I am fond of LXDE and of Debian. First time trying them together ).

Morten Juhl-Johansen Zölde-Fejér

Monday, June 27, 2011 - 13:52:25

Consider using Umplayer if Youtube is what is needed. It will pull in MP4 files from Youtube and display those - keeps the CPU cool and makes it possible to save the files as MP4.

Penguin Pete

Monday, June 27, 2011 - 19:28:09

This is the reason I ran Slackware for years. I’ve recently tried Ubuntu on my desktop for a couple years, but I’m almost ready to head back for Slackware.

Doing your own package management from the start beats having a convenient, automated system that works perfectly 95% of the time and breaks things in unimaginable ways the other 5%.

steven

Monday, June 27, 2011 - 21:31:21

@dj

I used a network-install disk and passed the parameter desktop=lxde in the bootline.

Jeff

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - 00:02:36

I agree, gnash is one of the first things I remove on a new Debian install.
Flash is not free but at least it works, and I use noscript to keep it under some control.

oiaohm

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - 00:44:30

Ok that is old when I uninstalled gnash it did not to that.

I wounder if its because I installed other audio processing first.

ie over working removing of not used dependencies.

Voltron

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - 08:15:26

Try synaptic with apt. Three or four clicks, one minute, done. I see your point, but gnash is the only open source alternative available for now for flash. If they go proprietary there’s trouble, if they use gnash there are complaints, if they use nothing it is also a problem for others. Damn if you do, damn if you don’t. You might want to try a Debian fork that comes with *dobe flash preconfigured.There’s plenty of choices. Leave young grandpa alone. Hehe!

Noah

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - 18:16:36

This is literally the first thing I do after installing Debian (more specifically Squeeze). I usually just use Google Chrome which comes with Flash build right in (only for x86, I think).

JavaBean

Thursday, June 30, 2011 - 21:09:11

I don’t really agree with removing Gnash as a first priority. I use Sid with the firefox-linux tarball extracted into my home directory for my “normal” internet use(NoScript and Flashblock installed). if i want to watch youtube i use minitube(should be available via backports). If i want to use flash itself? Qemu with a dedicated Sid image with Nonfree-flashplugin. Image set to read-only for security purposes. Qemu not using hardware acceleration to avoid any security bugs. but that is just me, i can imagine that some people don’t see non-DFSG “free” software as an intolerable security risk. but then some people might install b43 so that they can have a wireless laptop as well.