Het Open Web
Oktober 29, 2009

The Open Web: Gnash, the GNU Flash player

By Bastiaan Jacques.


Whether you're viewing a video on YouTube, a slideshow on Flickr or an advertisement not made by Google; chances are you're looking at a Flash movie. Flash has become so ubiquitous in recent years that it is difficult to imagine the Web without it. Yet Flash is proprietary technology and the Web will never be truly Open so long as Flash remains in its current state.

The lack of a free Flash player has always been a sore spot for the free software desktop. Almost every GNU-based desktop is complemented with an installation of the proprietary Adobe Flash plugin. The Gnash project was founded in order to fill this perceived gap.

Flash and "openness" have always been at odds, because the creators of Flash have been careful not to reveal much information about their technology to the public. The community at large over time reverse engineered and documented the workings of the Flash player and associated protocols. However, there are problems facing Gnash that no amount of technical expertise will ever solve.

This talk will focus on the challenges facing the Gnash developers and their connection to the Open Web. Substitute technologies for Flash, such as HTML5, will also be discussed.


Bastiaan Jacques is a programmer and free software enthusiast. He is one of the primary contributors of Gnash, which he has helped develop for the last three years. Previously he volunteered on the Mozilla project and he has contributed patches for several other projects, such as the Linux Kernel and XMMS.

In 2007 he helped organize the first European Perl Hackathon in Arnhem.Bastiaan is active on several online forums, and takes a keen interest in legal matters which affect free software. Bastiaan currently works for Maastricht University.

Najaar 2009

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