No text in Flash with libflashplayer in Linux

13 04 2008

It seems that Macromedia/Adobe finally managed to produce a Flash plugin which doesn’t crash your browser on every second Youtube video you want to see. Although the FreeBSD patches that I have seen and some reports might even indicate that this was a Kernel problem. No idea, but – you might be suffering from the same problem as I did and have invisible fonts on some Flash pages that you visit. For me, this was the case after a reinstallation. Looking for clues on Google, I’ve seen mentions of this from as early as 2004, with some tips about fixing the configuration for the X Font server xfs, which must have been so broken that it isn’t in use any more. I’ve found a minimal example to see if you’re affected or not, too: If you don’t see the text next to the checkboxes on this political cartoon on CNN, then your problem will be that the Arial font is missing on your system. For other things like web sites, there are usually fallbacks to fonts which look about the same, but Flash is picky with this: If you don’t have the font installed, then you see nothing.

What you’ll have to do to fix this is to install the Microsoft Core Fonts package. If you are using Debian, run apt-get install msttcorefonts (or apt-get install msttcorfonts for earlier distributions) as root. If you are using Gentoo, run emerge corefonts as root. For other Linux systems, visit the Corefonts home page for instructions. Restart your browser after that. Now you should have the Arial font and be able to read the text in the Flash movies, too.

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