Over the past few days, I decided to purge Gnash and LightSpark from my laptop to see whether my Internet experience would be affected in any dramatic way. Amazingly, a number of sites seem to offer video content encoded in Theora (VP3) or WebM (VP8). Sadly, a handful of popular sites such as Vimeo insist upon using the H.264 (MPEG-4) CODEC, which cannot be safely supported on Free Software because of unclear licensing issues that might impose an ulterior usage fee onto the end-users.
The good news is that the Mozilla Foundation has decided to avoid the issue together: starting with the most recent release of the mobile version of Firefox, content decoding is offloaded to the platform's native media CODEC library. On most Free Software platforms, this means that Gstreamer will handle the content and, in turn, use gstreamer-plugins-bad to perform the decoding. However, Gstreamer support is still rather sketchy, as attested by this Debian bug report and thus disabled by default. This leaves me wondering how little is missing for this to properly work. Would either Canonical or Red Hat perhaps be interested in funding this?