Flash Video Performance: I may have made a discovery

Michael Haney thezorch at gmail.com
Fri Feb 26 13:45:13 UTC 2010

The one thing that has really irked me for a long time is the piss
poor performance of Flash video on Linux.  Ok, it can be bad on
Windows, but on Linux its absolutely awful.  I've been playing around
with Google Chrome for Linux on Ubuntu 9.10.  Now we all know that
Chrome runs plugins as a separate thread from the rest of the browser.
 This is a feature that Firefox will be getting in a future release
that's not too far off.  I was hoping that this would help improve
Youtube video performance.  To my dismay it wasn't.

Now I tried turning up Chrome's priority to Hight in System Monitor.
That significantly improved Youtube Flash video playback, but over
time Chrome became slower and unresponsive and I had to close it out.
Constantly changing its priority isn't an option then.

I went looking for tweaks or any other suggestions on Google.
Eventually my search lead me to the Chrome Extensions page and an
Extension called Stop Autoplay for YouTube. - Version:  So
what this does is it stops the video from playing automatically when
the page loads but doesn't stop the player from auto-caching.

This is where I made the discovery.  When you try to play a Youtube
video while the player is caching the video, on my system at least,
the playback performance is shit.  After the caching is complete
playback doesn't improve at all.  Sometimes it gets worse.  Since
installing this in Chrome I've noticed a very marked improvement in
video playback.  I was able to watch through an entire video of 10
minutes in length without the video suddenly freezing or significantly
dropping frames.

There is seriously something screwy with the way Flash handle memory
and disk caching when pre-caching videos for playback.  Of course,
there's little we can do about it since Flash isn't open-source, but
if this workaround helps people with really sucky Youtube performance
I'll be a happy guy.  This does mean you'll have to wait for the video
to fully cache though, thats the caveat.

I'm going to see if there is a similar add-on for Firefox and see if
it helps improve Flash video on that browser too.

Michael "TheZorch" Haney
"The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history may be the hijacking
of morality by religion." ~ Arthur C. Clarke
"The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion and
politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there is no place
for it in the endeavor of science. " ~ Carl Sagan

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