Seamonkey media madness

Seamonkey media madness

Deciding to follow my own New Years advice, I updated my version of Mozilla suite. The Mozilla suite has now been renamed Seamonkey for reasons which will not be discussed in this blog, and while I was installing it, I decided to install the flash plugin even though it is non-free.

Now, I am usually what you might call a free software purist. I don’t like signing nasty end user agreements. In fact, my computer has been GNU/Linux only since 2000 and I have often thumbed my nose at dual booters. I have, however, in the past occasionally downloaded personal copies of nonfree programs. (Please don’t kill me.)

Anyway, for the last several years, flash has passed me by. I was glad to avoid those pesky advertisements that flicker on the side of the screen, but I was getting tired of websites that when loaded were only a single puzzle piece saying you need to install flash. This is really the result of bad web design because most of those sites don’t have a button to link to a non-flash site. But, even so, I decided that it was time for a change.

And there was a good reason too. I have heard that there are now free software programs available for making flash animations, and I wanted to be able to watch them. Well anyway, Flashplayer 9 for Linux works just beautifully with Seamonkey. I installed it on my and my son’s computers, and even now my son is watching Mario flash movies.

Emblazoned by this success, I decided to try some other media plugins. Real Player has what they call a free software version named Helix, and ever since they announced it, I have tried to use it. I never got a version of the Helix player to work correctly and this time was no exception. Helix showed subtitles, and some sound, but the picture was like a frozen green bad TV signal. It just didn’t work well. (Although it loaded great from Seamonkey). The Real player view of free software is, Hey you guys wanted it, you fix it! But who wants to fix a player that still has nasty documents that are forced to sign just to see the source code. These corporate free software licences are usually just awful.

But at least Real Player tries to work with the free software community. Quicktime and Window’s media player don’t even bother having a version for Linux. This is a policy decision for Windows who want to crush the Linux Corporation underfoot, but I don’t know why there is no Quicktime.

And, speaking of non free Apple stuff, I got the Real Player document that I wanted to watch from my alma mater, The University of Texas. They had sample lectures in Real Player on their website. But while browsing, I came across the College of Education’s laptop initiative, and it made my blood boil.

The college requires its students to buy a laptop. I don’t disagree with this as I am a technophile, but the College lists this statement on its website:

In order to provide the best possible support for students and faculty in the initial years of this innovative laptop project, only one operating system will be supported. To minimize the cost of this requirement for students who do not already own or cannot borrow a computer meeting the prescribed specifications, the College of Education has sought competitive bids from leading computer vendors. Based on careful consideration of cost, functionality, ease of use, and vendor commitment to an ongoing support partnership, the Apple Macintosh has been selected as the required platform for at least the first three years of the laptop initiative program..

Now is that not being in bed with Apple, or what? It gets my goat that a distinguished educational institution would be so closed to the ideals of free software!

But I’ve got to calm down now, because this is the life of a free software purist. You try to do what you think is right in the face of blatant favoritism and closed mindedness. Maybe I should take the flash plugin off again.




Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

You shouldn't tease like that, I'm happy to know what happened to the Mozilla suite (which is really awesome software) but now I'll be wondering why they changed their name until I figure it out. I'm a Debian Sarge user, that right, I'm a Neanderthal and I happily thumb my nose at all the snobs who look down on me in scornful disgust. For them, I have but one question, "Will your [insert spiffy-modern distro name] run on a 233 MHz Pentium?" and, after a suitable hesitation, add "My Debian Sarge will, and nicely too." nor will I say anything about software choices because the Debian repositories are legendary so my smug little smile says all that needs saying.

All of which is entirely beside the point. Despite my passion for Debian I'm still a virtual newbie and the command line presents a pretty seriously daunting learning curve. It's so hard to find tutorials that start at the beginning and proceed in small steps, giving old geezers a chance to catch up. Your tutorial on the command line is a perfect exception to the norm. I actually understood every word of it. I just wish you hadn't quit when you were on a roll.

Thank you,
Don Crowder
Aging Geek Candidate (still in training)

Rosalyn Hunter's picture

Thanks for the comments. I will consider a new command-line article.

About the name Seamonkey, I actually confused it with Ice Weasel, Debian's name for Firefox. There was apparently some conflict about how free a trademarked program can be, and so in Debian they have firefox and seamonkey renamed Ice weasel and Ice ape, or so I'm told. Seems a bit of sillyness to me. but go figure.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Debian Sarge comes with the Mozilla suite but Firefox, per se, is available in the repository so I assume they've resolved the sillyness. You know, of course, that Sarge comes with older versions which may explain why it's called Mozilla instead of Seamonkey. The version of Firefox in the repository is 1.0.x (I forget) but you can upgrade to by adding the backports repository to Synaptic. I've used Mozilla, Firefox and Epiphany alternately for the last few weeks. I like all three, any of them would suit my needs but each has unique features I like so to choose one means giving up what I like about the other two. For the time being, I'll just keep using all of them. Diversity is good. Best regards to you ma'am and I hope you'll let me know if you write an article on using the command line.

Don Crowder
AKA eldergeek

Rosalyn Hunter's picture

To Don Crowder
If you are still an Aging Geek Candidate (still in training), you may be interested that I have a new command line article in Issue 15.

This one has even more powerful tools to learn about your computer.


frida's picture

Flash animation on sites sometimes rather irritating thing. Why web developers use it on main page is still obscure to me. They really loose visitors who will not wait flash to download or, like me, will not install flash player as is required.

Author information

Rosalyn Hunter's picture


Rosalyn Hunter has been on the internet since before the web was created. Born into a family of instructors, she has made it her life's goal to teach others about the important things in life, such as how to type kill -9 when a process is dead. She lives in a little house on the prairie in the American West with her husband, her three beautiful children, a cat and a dog.