I was tweaking around with a script for playing Youtube playlists in mplayer.

My question is: How does linux play flash videos?

My current research yields (By reading scripts written by others):

When a video starts buffering, a new folder is created in /proc/MY_ID/fd

A file is present in that folder with ls -la yielding:

lrwx------ 1 username username 64 2012-02-23 21:52 17 -> /tmp/FlashXX6MuuBn (deleted)

Typing vlc 17 starts playing the video in VLC.

I can't understand what is happening. Any suggestions?

EDIT: After installing and experimenting, I found the following:

  • For my Chromium, the MY_ID is one of the PID of chromium-browse (there are many)
  • For my Opera the MY_ID is the PID of operapluginwrap
  • For my Firefox the MY_ID is of plugin-containe but this works intermittently.

If someone is using Chromium,

1 Answer 1


I... guess it depends on how are you playing the video... Playing a Flash Video is no different from playing any other video, you have the video file and you play it with a media player.

What you're seeing has more to do with whatever piece of software is downloading the videos from the playlist, which seems to be storing temporary copies of the videos under /tmp.

In turn, Adobe Flash-based flash video players may as well employ a similar trick to store temporary video files. What happens under these players will probably depend also on how the flash virtual machine handles temporary data (maybe Lightspark and gnash treat these differently, etc.).

  • I edited a bit. Please check.
    – user14517
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 17:34
  • +1 And I would like to add that any media player (mplayer, vlc, etc) can just play the encoded video as they play any other video (.avi for example). As for the web browsers. Each has it's own way and process of loading the flash plugin. Even if all browsers use the same plugin they can use it in different ways. What you see is normal, and usually browsers cache the flash content at least until you finish watching the movie or you close the tab/window. Some browsers keep the temporary files even between restarts. Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 20:23
  • @PatkosCsaba, njsg, Thanks! This is a fairly cheap way of playing videos at 2x speeds without the horrible HTML 5 then.
    – user14517
    Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 8:27
  • Horrible HTML 5? From my experience HTML 5's <video> tag is much more efficient than any flash plugin in a browser. Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 8:38

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