Adobe releases pre-release Flash 10 for 64-bit Linux

Today, Adobe released 64-bit Flash for Linux. Finally, I can waste time watching ugly, pixelated Internet video on my 64-bit Linux desktop and laptop, just like all of my 32-bit-confined brothers and sisters on the Internet! (Yes, I know about npviewer—let’s not go there.)

What’s really interesting is that this is Adobe’s first 64-bit release of Flash. That is, Linux users got it first, before users of Windows Vista x64 and and MacOS X. It probably does not mean anything, especially since Adobe has mentioned 64-bit flash will be released at the same time across platforms, but you can’t help but feel good inside.

Go download it now and remember to report good bugs.

Update: Some quick notes…

  • The tarball provided on the labs website is not the conventional Adobe Flash installer–it just contains the plugin. To use the plugin, drop the .so file into your ~/.mozilla/plugins/ directory.
  • Make sure to uninstall your npviewer-powered 32-bit Flash completely (disabling the plugin within Firefox is not enough). I personally uninstalled it from my system to prevent any conflict.

Creating your own personal aspell dictionary

Something that has bothered me forever is that applications that use GNU aspell for spell checking kept marking my name as a misspelling (I’m looking at you, KMail). Most front-end applications don’t provide a way for you to add your own custom words.

Apparently, creating your own personal dictionary is ridiculous easy with aspell.

If your language is English, create a file in your home directory called “.aspell.en.pws”:

personal_ws-1.1 en 0

The first line is a required header. Every subsequent line is a word you want to add to your dictionary. I can’t believe I’ve let this sit for so long. Because it’s a nice text file, syncing this file between machines to take your dictionary with you is trivially easy.

Taking Drupal sites offline via mysql and the command line

Drupal-powered websites can be put into an “offline mode.” This is much better than most alternatives (such as taking the web server offline), especially for search engines, as the message and HTTP status codes given to users and robots alike will tell them to patiently come back later.

I’ve found that putting the site into offline mode makes database backups go much faster on heavily trafficked sites (which is obvious). However, for a particular site I was working with, this needed to be done in an automated manner, and on a dedicated database server that did not have access to the Drupal installation.

Most people take their Drupal sites offline through Drupal’s web-based administration interface. They can also be put offline through the Drupal Shell. Neither were suitable for me: the former cannot be automated easily, and the latter requires access to the Drupal installation. Fortunately, Drupal sites can easily be taken offline by setting things in the database, which can easily be done via bash scripts and the command-line MySQL client.

Given your database user is my_db_user, password my_password, and database my_drupal_db, the backup script would look something similar to:


\# Take site offline
mysql --user my_db_user --password=my_password my_drupal_db << EOF
UPDATE variable SET value='s:1:"1";' WHERE name = 'site_offline';
DELETE FROM cache WHERE CID = 'variables';

\# Do stuff here while the site is offline (e.g. backup)

\# Bring site online
mysql --user my_db_user --password=my_password my_drupal_db << EOF
UPDATE variable SET value='s:1:"0";' WHERE name = 'site_offline';
DELETE FROM cache WHERE CID = 'variables';

Update: The original version of this article had some problems on some setups with the variables table being cached. I added another SQL statement to make sure this cache is flushed so the site actually reflects its configuration.

Update: This method really doesn’t work that well, and the more I think about it, there isn’t a way to get around writing something that interacts with Drupal. I’m working on a script that will be more fool-proof.


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