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Fixing bizarre sound playback in Flash Player

2009-01-20 2 min read Howto marco

For a while now I’ve had a strange behavior happen in Firefox on Ubuntu 8.10 (Ibex): whenever I started a flash video (e.g. in YouTube or, the video would come out abut right, maybe a little halting, but the sound would be choppy. I would hear something that sounded about right for a fraction of a second, but then it would repeat like an echo. Turns out that an echo every fraction of a second makes the whole sound unusable.

Given that this morning, Inauguration Day, watching video had a certain importance, I tried to address the issue. The process of addressing an issue in Ubuntu is always the same:

  1. Type in an accurate description of your problem and add distribution and version into a search enging
  2. Sift through all sorts of useless links: people that post the question, but nobody replies; people that post the question, and the reply is RTFM or a variant; people that post the question and the reply is private-messaged
  3. Find something that vaguely sounds right (invariably on a site like ubuntuforums or linuxquestions) and try to apply it to your situation
  4. Poke around your system configuration until you find the location of the problem
  5. Fix the problem creatively

This time around, the useful piece of information was to look at about:plugins in Firefox. I did that and found that there were two versions of the Flash Player in use: 10.0.15 and 9.55. Well, that certainly would cause the problem I saw.

Next step: find the two versions. I did a quick locate, the name of the file associated with the Flash player in the plugin listing. I got, of course, two entries: one from a common location, one in my .mozilla directory.

Which one to get rid of? Well, the one in the common directory had to come from a package file. So I searched for the corresponding package:

dpkg -l | grep flash

As a result, I got flashplayer-nonfree, which was listed as version 10.0.15

ii flashplugin-nonfree Adobe Flash Player plugin installer

That was all the information I needed. I went to my local directory, which evidently had the old version, and removed the file:

rm ~/.mozilla/plugins/*flash*

Restart Firefox, and life is good again…