Monday, August 10, 2009

Kogan Agora Netbook Pro Java, Flash, Audio and Video

It was a surprise to find that my Kogan Agora Netbook Pro did not come with Java, Adobe Flash, or audio/video formats installed. In some ways it is pleasant to surf the web without Java or Flash, as a lot of annoying interactive ads and applets disappear. But I need Java, as that is what uses to create generate XHML documents from word processing files (very useful to clean up the formatting Microsoft Word documents). And Flash is needed to play some useful videos on the web. Also I would like to play audio and video in popular formats.

Installing flash was relatively easy, I just had to click a box to say it was okay to install this non-open source application on my open source computer. To tame Flash I also installed the "Flashblock" add-on, which stops Flash files playing in the web browser, apart from those sites where I have okay-ed it.

Java proved more difficult. I tried installing a Java run time kit, but this didn't seem to talk to Open Office. So then I un-installed that and instead installed the full OpenOffice suite, which comes with Java. That worked.

Installing audio and video playback codecs was very easy. In the provided player application I was told a format was not available and offered a download, which then started the application installation process. A few seconds later the codecs were installed and the audio playing.

The hardest part of this process for someone used to working with Microsoft Windows is to relax and let the package management system sort out if your system has all the needed components. Normally with Microsoft Windows you have to worry if the package you are about to install is going to overwrite some new libraries with old versions and break something. With Linux, that is taken care of for you (as much as it can be).

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