How to Get Firefox's Flash Plugin to work on 64-bit Linux

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Linux users are sometimes dumbfounded by the severe lack of documentation on a topic. Sometimes, the documentation is copious, but other times, you end up with some obscure "it varies depending on your distribution" over and over when searching for the solution to a problem.

Adobe Flash Player for 64-bit Linux is just such a problem. When you got to the flash download page, Adobe just gives you some VERY generic instructions on how to install the flash plugin for Mozilla's Firefox on their site. Not only that, in most cases, they tell you to download the wrong version of the Flash plugin! Let me explain:

Most of us just do what the browser says. When you go to www.getfirefox.com, you are presented with the wonderful "Download" button to get your copy of firefox. You download it, sudo bunzip2 it to /opt/, and off you go. The browser works. The dirty, hidden secret is: this is actually the 32-bit version of the program!

Thus, when you go to the Adobe site and download the 64-bit version of the plugin (as is auto-detected by adobe.com and suggested for download), it doesn't work because you have the 32-bit version of the browser.

Further, figuring out exactly where to put the plugin is just as confusing. Adobe's inconspicuous link on the download page that offers you at least "general" installation instructions, just takes you to the main Adobe flash page.

So, if you're like me, and not too willing to deal with a missing Flash plugin, you'll probably end up using Chrome for a while since Flash seems to work "out of the box" in Chrome. But finally, I got tired of it not working and actually sat down to figure it out.

My system is an Ubuntu 10.10 64-bit workstations. I have Firefox installed into /opt/, so this of course begs the question: where do I put the plugin? You have the choice of putting it in two places depending on your setup. So to be safe, just copy the file into both! (Of course, you can do this one at a time if you like surgical installations).

Here's the complete procedure complete with file paths:

1. Download and Install Firefox

1. Download Firefox from www.getfirefox.com.
2. As your current user, copy the bz2 file to /opt/:
sudo cp ~/Downloads/firefox-10.0.bz2 /opt/

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3. Bunzip it:
sudo bunzip2 /opt/firefox-10.0.bz2

Firefox is now installed. Note: I used sudo so that the file permissions of the application would remain intact with me as the owner. If you do it as root (sudo su), you have to change the permissions back again to make it work.

2. Download and Install the Flash Plugin

1. Download the plugin from Adobe's Other Operating Systems Page
2. Download the 32-bit version for Linux. As of this writing, it is Flash Player 11 for other Linux (.tar.gz) 32-bit.
3. Copy it to your /tmp/ directory. (Because it is full of stuff we don't need)
cp ~/Downloads/install_flash_player_11_linux.i386.tar.gz /tmp/

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4. Extract it:
cd /tmp/
tar -zxvf install_flash_player_11_linux.i386.tar.gz

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5. The command above extracts multiple folders, files, and other things you don't need. All you need is the file libflashplayer.so, which not resides in the root of your /tmp/ directory: /tmp/libflashplayer.so
6. The small 17MB file can now be copied to one of the locations your browser will be looking for it. (I suggest you copy it to both places if you don't care about testing them one at a time to figure out which one your system will be using).
cp /tmp/libflashplayer.so ~/.mozilla/plugins/libflashplayer.so
cp /tmp/libflashplayer.so /usr/lib/browser-plugins/libflashplayer.so

3. Restart Firefox

Now, you must completely close Firefox to force a restart so the plugin will be loaded. Close all Firefox windows (especially that download window that tends to hide itself).
Re-open Firefox, and put about:plugins in the navigation bar. You will now see that the plugin has been installed.

4. Bonus Round

If you're new to Ubuntu and Linux, you're probably going to want to know how to make a desktop icon. Since Ubuntu comes with Firefox out of the box, you just have to redirect the icon that is already on your task bar to the newly installed version of Firefox:
1. Right Click the Firefox Icon, and select Properties.
2. Change the command to /opt/firefox/firefox.
3. Click close.
4. Enjoy your new Firefox Browser with Flash enabled!
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