Friday, 11 March 2011

Downloading Flash Videos

OK, so is your ISP are bandwidth throttling you, getiplayer sorts out patchy video from the Beeb, but what about youtube et al? There is actually a simple way to store flash video using ubuntu without the need to purchase downloadsaverproextreme. You just grab the downloaded file from Ubuntu's temp space.

First of all you want to be sure that firefox knows it has enough cache space to download whatever it is we are viewing. Enter this into the address bar of firefox:


Then search for the following settings and change them as suggested:

browser.cache.disk.capacity = 500000
media.cache_size = 500000

Incidentally, none of that may be necessary, but the next step certainly is. Change to the temporary folder:

cd /tmp

And view the contents of the folder:

ls -alhSr

That lists [a]ll files with a[l]l information, with file sizes in [h]uman readable format, [r]everse ordered by [S]ize so that the largest is last. I prefer it in the easier to remember sequence:

ls -Sharl

Now, go to firefox, open the webpage that the video is on, and start the video playing. Pause it right away so that the stutter of slowly downloading video doesn't drive you mental. Run the [ls] command above from time to time and you can watch the video file increase in size. It is probably going to end up as the largest file in the /tmp folder - and therefore at the bottom of the list.

Copy this file to ~/Videos, while the firefox tab is still open. This is important, if you navigate away from the page the temporary file is deleted immediately. If the video is from youtube it should just be a x264 video and aac audio in a flv wrapper. You can change wrappers to .mp4 to make the video file compatible with your video player of choice with ffmpeg, while keeping the actual video and audio data unchanged with this command:

ffmpeg -i [your filename here].flv -vcodec copy -acodec copy [output name].mp4

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