Spotlight on Gnash

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Spotlight on Gnash
Wed, 2007-08-01 00:50 — dcp

Blue GNU interviews Rob Savoye, of the Gnash project, to provide readers an understanding of the project - how it began and where it is heading.

When and why was Gnash started?

Gnash initially was started as an embedded Flash player for a digital stereo system about 3 years ago. Then John Gilmore asked me if I'd be interested in turning it into a desktop plugin for Firefox, which I did. That attracted attention to the Gnash project, which has been under heavy development since. My main reason for starting Gnash was it seemed a great solution for embedded user interfaces for CE devices. That and it was getting impossible to navigate the web without a flash plugin, as I have always refused to install the proprietary one.

Where does the project stand at this point?

Gnash now supports streaming video from popular sites like Lulu.TV and YouTube as of the 0.8.0 release. Gnash implements a large set of ActionScript 2 classes, and while primarily a flash v7 compliant player, does support some flash v8 features. Work towards flash v9 & AS3 is starting.

We're the default flash plugin for the OLPC project (, Ubuntu Gutsy, and most BSD distributions. Gnash has also been ported to OpenEmbedded, OS/2, Haiku, Windows, and MacOSX. Gnash also has full 64 bit support, and runs on a variety of processors; ARM, MIPS, XScale, PowerPC, Geode, AMD64, UltraSparc, Itanium, or x86

How many active developers currently work on Gnash?

There are about 5 core developers, and many more people that help by contributing test cases. We're always interested in more Gnash developers that know C++ or graphics.

How does Gnash compare (in your view) to other Flash clients?

Gnash is the most advanced of any of the free Flash players. Swfdec also handles YouTube video, but is less focused on general flash playingcompliance.

Can you give me any idea of how big and/or active the Gnash user community is?

That's hard to judge, as many people use Gnash that we never hear about. It is an active community, with people contributing debugging help and test cases all the time. As none of the Gnash developers runs the proprietary plugin, we depend on users to help test compatibility with the other flash players.

What needs to be accomplished before the next release of Gnash?

The next release of Gnash will mostly be a bug fixing one, although it will include the new garbage collector. The GC reduces the memory footprint of Gnash heavily. This is now enabled by default in Gnash CVS. By the next release we also plan to have support for dynamically loading the rendering and gui support for Gnash as plugins.

What are the biggest obstacles the Gnash team faces in development?

Reverse engineering is hard work, especially with a lack of publically available do****entation.

Is there anything else about Gnash you think our audience should know?

Gnash is under heavy development, and gets better every day. It still can't play every flash movie on the net. With more active developers and testers we can achieve full compliance with the flash v9 in a reasonable amount of time.