BBC iPlayer broken on Intel Atom N270/NVIDIA ION 1/VDPAU with Flash 11 but no easy way to step back to Flash 10.1/10.2

Asked by Alex Cockell on 2011-11-07

I use a Lenovo Ideapad S12, running the spec above - Intel Atom N270 (single-core 1.6GHz CPU), NVIDIA ION 1 GPU, Ubuntu 10.04, VDPAU loaded from repos...

I have accepted all Flash upgrades... but recently the BBC updated iPlayer to start requiring use of Stage Video logic in iPlayer (for those outside the UK, iPlayer is basically as critical to end-users as Hulu would be in the States). Hardware Stage video acceleration was available as experimental code between Adobe Flash 10.1/10.2 and for Linux, and in the beta releases for Flash 11, *but was ripped out of the release version of Flash 11 for Linux*.

The upshot of this is that while the GPU is used for h264 DECODING, the CPU is left on its own to render the video content... which, on a netbook of the above spec, is maxed out pretty much on Youtube, never mind iPlayer. However, iPlayer now presents the video transport information when you mouseover the video playback window - it requires CPU that there just isn't available. Video freezes with no recovery - audio continues. COnfigs such as Core Duo/Intel X3100, being software-only - doesn't have the issue, but it DOES peg the CPU at around 50-60% on both cores - as was the case in Flash 9 or before.

Youtube stutters badly; iPlayer is unusable for video. AUDIO, however, isn't a problem, running about 50% of available CPU on my netbook.

This has been reported to the BBC under case number 1084738, and referenced on

The BBC recommended backing Flash out to a minimum of version 10.1... however, there is no easy package to roll this back, due to the following situation.

1 - When Flash 11 came out, the Flash 10 package was updated directly, rather than a Flash 11 package rolled in and adobe-flashplugin repointed.

2 - The most recent version of the one other package - flashplugin-installer - has Flash 10.0.42 as its previous version - too old for iPlayer.

A bug was raised to request Flash 10.3 to be made available (as I would have expected it to have been left so I could easily back out - this is #886302 on Launchpad). I don't know what "Wishlist" means - but IPLAYER IS BROKEN ON THE ABOVE SPEC.

This also affects 4OD, Probably Demand5

Question information

Alex Cockell (alcockell) said : #1

The issue has been exacerbated by the BBC updating iPlayer to Embedded Media Player 3 just after Flash was updated.. and accelerated video was taken away from NVIDIA users under Linux (Windows and Mac users have no issues). Adobe say they "may" add it back in a future version - but this leaves us with crappy video on netbooks - when the GPU has the grunt but sits idle.

BBC iPlayer tests for the existence of Adobe's Flash code, and with use of SWF Verification, FOSS Flash versions cannot be used. They also actively fight against get-iPlayer, so for the casual user, this has broken iPlayer. Imagine Hulu being broken in the States.

On single-core Atom netbooks, there is barely enough CPU to run Youtube videos windowed at 360p. RUnning without VDPAU would be impossible.

Please revisit and fix.

Also - bear in mind that I am more of a user - messing around with tarballs is something I am scared to do as it could break something - I should be able to resolve this issue purely within Synaptic.
Or in Software Centre - just by uninstalling Flash 11 and installing 10.3.

Alex Cockell (alcockell) said : #2

Bug I raised to get Flash 10.3 onto the platform...

This was changed to Wishlist - does this mean it's never going to happen? I want my iPlayer back on my netbook.

This also needs to be made available on Lucid again... please ensure it is.

Canonical - over to you.

I am not a developer - I bought my computers preinstalled from Linux Emporium - I onyl use them...

"This was changed to Wishlist - does this mean it's never going to happen?"

No, it does not mean that. All needs-packaging requests are assigned wishlist importance. For details, see comments in the bug.

Do you require assistance in manually removing the version of Flash provided by Ubuntu packages and manually installing version 10 from Adobe's download site? (If not, you can mark this question as Solved now that you've successfully filed the needs-packaging big.)

Alex Cockell (alcockell) said : #4

I'd prefer to wait - and just deal with the repos..

However, while this incident isn't resolved, kit matching the spec I described will struggle to run anything based on Flash - and the absence of Stage Video code may have a knock=on effect to where Firefox doesn't stop correctly.

It also mighthave knockon effects to other legit TV catchup streaming services...

Basically it was a bit fo a perfect storm. which might also have impact against Bug 1 as well..

Launchpad Janitor (janitor) said : #5

This question was expired because it remained in the 'Open' state without activity for the last 15 days.