on loneliness

I had a major breakthrough. Actually two. The first one was that I managed to watch a video via RTMP using Swfdec (Yahoo music and BBC use that). That got me really excited so I went to our IRC channel to tell people. This was when I had the second major breakthrough.

I relaized at that moment that there was noone anywhere that wanted to share my happiness. Noone saying “congrats”, let alone asking “How did you do that?”. I realized I’m a lonely hacker these days.

This got me wondering why I’m still working on Swfdec, and the answer was that I don’t know. Originally it started because I wanted to watch Youtube with free software. I’m able to do this for almost 2 years now. Then it was exciting to figure out how Flash worked and how hard it’d be to write a Free player. I know pretty much everything I want to know about Flash today. The last year I’ve worked on Swfdec because other people were interested in it. But those people went away to do other things and these days I’m the only one left working on it. And as I mentioned above, that’s not fun.

So I’m going to change something. I’m not sure what it will be, but it’s equally likely that I continue working on Swfdec as it is that I’m gonna do something else entirely. We’ll see. If you know something You’d like me doing, mail me. :)


#1 Anders on 12.18.08 at 11:23

Read this: http://producingoss.com/

Seriously. Read it.

#2 Qball on 12.18.08 at 11:26

I still love it, and use it daily.
Just can’t hang out in all the irc channels of all the programs I use..

#3 Stu on 12.18.08 at 11:32

Hey; it’s a cool achievement – I’m slowly developing a project that will eventually integrate flash with other things – swfdec and friends are important :)
– Eventually we can use them to help join the flash and open source communities

#4 menko on 12.18.08 at 11:44

I appreciate swfdec everytime I watch Youtube :)

And I am happy about every flash file that works with swfdec, but many still do not, so it would be great to see that continuing.

Or do you think the lifecycle of current flash is limited?

#5 Ploum on 12.18.08 at 11:48

I appreciate swfdec everytime I open a page full of flash and I see only grey arrows (flash on click by default is lovely).

I appreciate to be able to not have a crashy flash proprietary binary on my computer.

So I really appreciate swfdec and I’m always waiting impatiently for new releases.

I must admit that I’m not interested in contributing/coding to swfdec. But if it can motivate you, you have user that are waiting for you to release exciting stuffs :-)

Thank you.

#6 bkor on 12.18.08 at 12:05

You convinced me! Still using swfdec even if it doesn’t work for various sites (videos:).

#7 dré on 12.18.08 at 12:13

I think swfdec is a nice piece of work from user and development point of view and makes use of some of the best free software out there. Novell should rather support swfdec than reimplement this silverlight crap that is only used by a few sites. Keep up your great work! Thx.

#8 Robin on 12.18.08 at 12:14

Once in a while I give swfdec a try, but it never works for me. So I just tried swfdec again (0.8.0 from Ubuntu 8.10), but sadly youtube doesn’t work at all (video is about 1 fps, sound is extremely choppy). But still I’m grateful that a free alternative exists and apparently works for some people :).

#9 Marius Gedminas on 12.18.08 at 12:15

FWIW your post prompted me to give swfdec another try.

News about exciting new features in open source apps is why I read Planet GNOME.

#10 Ignacius on 12.18.08 at 12:45

It’s great to have swfdec. I would like to see it on maemo/N8x0, because on heavy flash websites, it’s impossible to use the flash that comes with the N8x0. I also love to be able to download videos,etc.. from within swfdec. But I mostly don’t use it, mainly because many flashes don’t look like they should. At last, it’s a matter of functionality, as there doesn’t seem to be anyway to change from swfdec to proprietary flash on the fly.

One suggestion, why don’t you combine efforts with gnash developers?

#11 dom lachowicz on 12.18.08 at 13:16

congrats :)

#12 anon on 12.18.08 at 13:37

So how did you do it anyway? ;-)

#13 ssam on 12.18.08 at 14:02

cool. you ought to post more blog articles when you achieve stuff.I saw a gnash post recently mentioning RTMP, but i had no clue what it was.

so would i need the latest git version to watch iPlayer? is there an easy way to install this?

thanks for the hard work.

#14 Tom on 12.18.08 at 14:11

I use SWFdec on 64bit coz I hate running 32bit stuff.

Maybe you should try to get funding. Try asking ARM or other CPU vendors that need flash for non-X86.

I think with it free license it could have a great future with all those MIDs we all will be using soon.

It is always darkest before sunrise ;)

Keep up the great work!

#15 otte on 12.18.08 at 14:58

To everyone wanting to try the RTMP stuff: I don’t consider it ready for anyone but people that want to send me patches. If you still want to break stuff, It’s in git – branch name is rtmp. As I said, it’s still very experimental. Regular video sites don’t even work in the branch, so no Youtube or Dailymotion.

#16 Phil Jones on 12.18.08 at 15:10

Sounds awesome! RTMP support — I’ve been hoping something like this would come along forever! Thanks for all of the hard work!

#17 JustAGuy on 12.18.08 at 15:20


I’ve been a user of swfdec for a few years. I’m *very* grateful for it, and would be very saddened to see you stop working on it.

I hope you find some way not to be lonely.

#18 JustAGuy on 12.18.08 at 15:21


I’ve been a user of swfdec for a few years. I’m *very* grateful for it, and would be very saddened to see you stop working on it.

I hope you find some way not to be hacking alone.

#19 Nick on 12.18.08 at 15:33

For those of us on alternate platforms such as PPC, your software is a lifesaver! Thanks for your hard work.

#20 mkv on 12.18.08 at 15:50

RTMP, wow! Congrats! :)

#21 EdgeWise on 12.18.08 at 16:11

Super cool! RTMP is a tough nut. You’re a better coder than me, and I’m looking forward to using it. I really appreciate all the hard work you have put into swfdec, and use it daily.

#22 Natan Yellin on 12.18.08 at 16:29

As Nick said, Swfdec is a lifesaver on PPC and other platforms that Adobe doesn’t support.

@dré Can I assume that you’ve never actually tried developing a silverlight/moonlight application?

#23 al_shopov on 12.18.08 at 16:51

Go and enrol in a dance class.

#24 Stemp on 12.18.08 at 17:07

I feel suddenly lonely too.
I’ve created updated packages of swfdec unstable versions for Ubuntu and nobody knows :D
Swfdec is great, keep on good work !
But hey ! if you don’t have fun anymore, step down. FOSS should be FUN. But please don’t step down ;)

#25 Swfdec-team PPA « Stemp on 12.18.08 at 17:17

[…] the way, otte one of the main developper is feeling lonely and don’t feel the love about his work ! Go and hugs […]

#26 Tim on 12.18.08 at 18:34

Saw your post on planet gnome, I’m in no way qualified to help you out, but I did want to say thanks, your hard work make my web experience better just about everyday. Cheers!

#27 ReinoutS on 12.18.08 at 19:02

Next time, pop in on #epiphany and I’ll congratulate you! =) For now I’d just like to say your work is very much appreciated. Thanks!

#28 Alex on 12.18.08 at 20:23

I use swfdec on a daily basis. Youtube changed something a while back that made Gnash stop working. I switched to swfdec and haven’t looked back.

#29 fitzsim on 12.18.08 at 20:50

Check out:


for encouragement. For context, I’m the author of gcjwebplugin and IcedTeaPlugin. I say that your work on swfdec is the most important thing you can be doing for the Free Software community, and you’re doing a great job of it. *high five*

#30 Henry on 12.18.08 at 21:33

I’m just here to point out that “no one” is two words.

#31 Chris Hubick on 12.18.08 at 22:21

I love swfdec! Thanks to you, my decision to use only free software no longer means I have to constantly tell people sending me links that “No, I can’t see it. Because I use Linux”. So, thanks!

#32 Daniel on 12.18.08 at 22:22

One cool piece of software. (And I really like swfdec’s no-crashes-allowed policy :-)

#33 Bertrand on 12.18.08 at 23:02

I hate Adobe’s guts. I really do. It sickens me to be FORCED to use their plugin because there’s no alternative. So yeah, playing catch up with the specs is not cool, working alone isn’t cool, but there’s an upside to all that: the day swfdec gets a major breakthrough, you’ll be the one getting the crown of laurels. Don’t give up. Please don’t give up.

#34 Quentin on 12.18.08 at 23:12

thanks for swfdec, it shows how a flash player should work, giving options to its users, not to the devs.
Of course full compatibility and less cpu usage would be great, but it must be a _lot_ of work.

#35 Anand Kumria on 12.19.08 at 02:16

Benjamin, thank you for working on swfdec.

Unlike you, I have had many mixed experiences with Flash using swfdec.

I am waiting for you to incorporate swfdec into Firefox so that all flash sites have to work with swfdec.

Once that is done, happy days.


#36 Bassam on 12.19.08 at 02:49

hi Benjamin, swfdec rocks! sorry you don’t hear it too often.

#37 Andrés G. Aragoneses on 12.19.08 at 05:34

Sum me up with the encouragement words. Although I haven’t used swfdec yet, I’ll use it soon now that I checked that Gnash is not working for YouTube and that I’m fed up of using proprietary software from Adobe.
Only one repeated question, why not joining efforts with Gnash?

#38 Gamma on 12.19.08 at 11:20

TOM: “Maybe you should try to get funding. Try asking ARM or other CPU vendors that need flash for non-X86.”

Flash on ARM cpu… have u ever considered doing THE port “everyone” is waiting but due to Adobe/Apple bs leaves iPhone users out of the business in regards to flash?

Even with limited functionality ported I assume a good ammount of flash websites would be iPhone enabled from then on.

There’s issues to overcome: Safari Mobile plug-ins are disabled for one, but I believe you asked for a chalange.

I will keep my eyes on these open source flash players Gnash and Swfdec until Apple/adobe stop being childish.

Wish you the best luck in whatever course you’re taking from here on.

Many tnx for what you’ve acomplished so far!

#39 Stormy on 12.19.08 at 15:16

It looks like you already changed something! ;)


#40 bochecha on 12.19.08 at 16:22

> “This got me wondering why I’m still working on Swfdec, and the answer was that I don’t know.”

I would have said that you’re doing it for me, but it looks like I’m not the only happy Swfdec user :)

About RTMP, IIRC that’s a bug part of what an application like OpenMeetings needs, so having this support means that Swfdec is one step closer to allowing my company to use only FOSS :)

As others said before, thanks for that.

#41 js on 12.19.08 at 16:32

don’t get discouraged. there’s a lot of us readers/users who get excited when we see you post on swfdec progress. especially being a ppc user. :) it makes us look forward to the next distro drop to try out the new functionality.

#42 Dafydd Harries on 12.19.08 at 17:43

I hope you will find a way to make working on swfdec fun again, but regardless of your decision I appreciate all the work you put into it; it’s made my life better.

#43 Craig on 12.19.08 at 18:32

I’m a big fan of swfdec! I’m a HUGE free software supporter, and not having to use proprietary Flash is a Big Deal ™ to me.

The FSF’s Flash player project, Gnash, doesn’t even come close to swfdec’s abilities – perhaps you could contact the FSF and see if they’ll sponsor yours instead, or in addition to, Gnash?

If you were looking for donations, I’m sure a bunch of people would help (myself included). Free Flash is incredibly important, and I hope you continue to work on it.

Remember, lots of people read your blog, and use (and appreciate) your software – we just don’t hang out on the IRC channel. :-)

#44 Emanuele Aina on 12.20.08 at 13:18

Thank you for swfdec!

I’ve never installed the closed Flash player under linux, and with swfdec I’ve never bothered with the nuisance of missing plugins for 64bit platforms, like many others did.

So, again, thank you for making me another bit more free!

#45 Louise on 12.20.08 at 18:13

I think it would be a big loss to lose swfdec, and especially now with your breakthrough!

I am subscribed to your blog, this is how important I think your project is. :)

For me the most important feature is being able to watch movies, so if swfdec turned out to be a player tat only supported video sites, that would be fine by me. :)

Hope you will keep up the good work one way or the other.

#46 noname on 12.23.08 at 17:27

hey i’m very excited about rtmp support
now all i need is a way for swfdec to save those rtmp streams and i’ll bet set.

thanks very much for working on it. i know gnash is still lagging behind :(

#47 Khiraly on 12.24.08 at 10:17

Lets face the true. Nobody cares about flash *players* because this is a non-issue on linux (yes it is closed-source, but) “it works” very much everywhere.

If we want swfdec matters, we need one thing: swf editing.

It is very similar to svg. Until inkscape didnt get popular nobody really cared about svg. Even the gnome icons was made using adobe illustrator.
Look at it now, almost every illustration on wikipedia was made with inkscape. I think it is a huge achievement.

So we need swdec and inkscape integration to inkscape become a true first-citizen swf editor (with animation).
If it is done, we can easily replace swf with svg because it is the same editor (inkscape), the code are there, just the output differs (which is huge achievement). Even we could edit an swf and convert into svg and develop further.

I think we should focus in this area. What do you think Benjamin?

(I don’t have big hopes that you read this, because it is a bit old blogpost, but I would be very interest what do you think about this subject.)

#48 Khiraly on 12.24.08 at 10:27

And one more thing: You gathered so many knowledge about swg, animation and such, that it is incredibly helpful to inkscape, when implementing animation support.

#49 Richard on 12.25.08 at 22:13

Please work on things that will keep you happy. I think an OSS hacker who isn’t happy doesn’t remain an OSS hacker for long :(

#50 bochecha on 12.30.08 at 12:08

Just thought about something.

Java has always been a popular language, but it was as much hated as it was loved, especially in FOSS communities where the FSFcampaigned from the beginning against it being non free.

Then, some hackers created GCJ and the GNU classpath. That was horrible, worked with very few Java applications, but hey, that was a first step towards freeing Java.

Later, Sun announced they would free totally the JDK, and look at what we have now: a fully functional free JDK (OpenJDK6) that was even certified by Sun.

One could argue that Sun would have freed Java anyway, but when looking at it now, GCJ certainly looks like some kind of a catalyser.

Couldn’t the same happen with Flash ? Couldn’t Swfdec show Adobe that the FOSS community cares about Flash technology and that we have people skilled enough to help them building a free Adobe Flash player ?

Sure, that’s utopic, so what ?

Thanks for what you did, and I sincerely hope you will find a new motivation for going on.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year by the way :)

#51 zou on 01.03.09 at 02:57

swfdec is a nice and usefull project.

> So I’m going to change something. I’m not sure what
> it will be, but it’s equally likely that I continue
> working on Swfdec as it is that I’m gonna do
> something else entirely. We’ll see. If you know
> something You’d like me doing, mail me. :)

Maybe it need some fundings and/or more hackers to keep going. If I could suggest something, annotate the internals of the source code more, to keep your good knowledge of Flash inheritable by later hackers. I might be one, and I hope swfdec could keeping going, even slowly, but better than dead.