Flash-free: further observations

The Flash removal process keeps going on in my humble Mac abode. Earlier today, I applied the same procedure outlined here on my PowerMac G4 Cube with Mac OS X 10.4.11 and my blueberry clamshell iBook G3/300 with Mac OS X 10.3.9. Here’s a brief report and some observations.

On the G4 Cube with Mac OS X 10.4.11 and Safari 4.1.2 everything went as expected. Safari’s behaviour has improved a bit. I can’t say why technically, and I’m sure it’s not auto-suggestion, but the browser feels faster in loading any kind of page, whether it comes with Flash elements or not. Probably it has to do with less CPU and RAM consumption — the whole browser interface seems less sluggish and more responsive. The situation is similar to my MacBook Pro with Snow Leopard and Safari 5.0.2. On pages with Flash content, I get empty boxes with the “Missing plug-in” label. If a site offers HTML5 videos, the Develop > User Agent > Mobile Safari 3.2.2 — iPad command does the trick and, for example, YouTube and Vimeo videos get to play, although with the hiccups and difficulty you expect from a modest 450 MHz G4 processor. Safari 4.1.2 doesn’t support extensions, and there’s no Google Chrome for the PowerPC architecture, so there is no way to access Flash content of any kind unless I put the plug-ins I moved back in place. I’m happy this way, though: Flash content could slow down the Cube a lot, and more than once I had to force-quit Safari to regain control of the machine.

On the iBook G3/300 with Mac OS X 10.3.9 the results were interesting. Due to the small amount of free disk space, I have installed only a few essential tools on the iBook. The only two browsers are Safari 1.3.2 and Opera 10.10 (the last version of Opera that supports Mac OS X Panther and the most modern option if you want a good Web browsing experience under Panther and with a G3 Mac). When I tried to access some YouTube pages in Safari with Flash disabled, I got this warning:

Safari 1.3.2 warning

Safari 1.3.2 under Mac OS X 10.3.9 sends this warning before loading the page.

After clicking on OK and dismissing the dialog box, Safari crashed. This behaviour has proved to be reproducible so far. Opening the same pages with Opera 10.10, instead, didn’t raise any issues. The YouTube page of the same video was rendered correctly and instead of the video I got this black box with the warning to update Adobe Flash Player:

Opera 10.10 and missing Flash plug-in

Missing Flash plug-in warning in Opera 10.10 under Mac OS X 10.3.9

On WebKit-based applications like NetNewsWire, when I loaded a news article containing Flash video, a dimmed still image was displayed instead of the Flash content. Quite elegant, I’d say:

NetNewsWire and missing Flash plug-in

How NetNewsWire 2.1.5 under Mac OS X Panther displays Flash videos after removing all Flash-related plug-ins.

Despite Safari’s problems with the missing Flash plug-ins, I have noticed that both Safari and Opera on the iBook G3 seem to load pages faster and feel snappier than before. On a G3 machine with 288 MB RAM and less than 1 GB of free disk space, you definitely notice any small performance improvement.

* * *

Recently I read a comment somewhere that this Flash-free attitude looks a bit too over-the-top: In the end, the commenter said, there was nothing ‘wrong’ and everyone was fine with Flash until Apple started not supporting it in its iOS devices, hence this recent anti-Flash crusade which seems a little ridiculous.

I can only say in response that I’ve always disliked Flash even before it became an Adobe product, I have always criticised its abuse and misuse on the Web, and I’ve wanted to remove it from my Macs for a long time, only I wasn’t completely sure on what to remove, so I choose to adopt Flash-blocking plug-ins from the start. If this ‘crusade’ is going to lead to a quicker Flash demise, frankly I couldn’t be happier, since I have very rarely found interesting or amazing content made with Flash on the Web. What I have seen are lots of unnecessary introductions to sites, lots of annoying advertisements, and very limited accessibility in websites 90% made with Flash. On the contrary, a lot of what I’ve seen of HTML5 so far is better than Flash in so many ways. We’ve come to a point in which the only Flash supporters are those whose work greatly depend on it and seem incapable of moving on.

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About Riccardo Mori

Writer. Translator. Mac consultant. Enthusiast photographer. • If you like what I write, please consider supporting my writing by purchasing my short stories, Minigrooves or by making a donation. Thank you!