The problem with saving streaming flash video and how it can be overcome
Anyone who has dabbled in saving online streaming Flash videos knows that there are a many ways of going about it. The most popular method seems to be visiting a video download website that requires the user to paste a Youtube or some other video sharing site's url, after which it attempts to download the video in its native flv(Flash Video) format. Some sites even offer on-the-fly conversions to a variety of other video formats that are easier on the average media player than flv. When it works it can be an easy and convenient way to save online video, but people who use these sites on a regular basis know that it can also be an extremely frustrating experience at times. Connection time-outs are common, file conversions don't always work they way they should and many video sharing sites periodically update their APIs and streaming mechanism to specifically combat such video download sites.
There are also standalone programs that download Internet Flash video. In Windows many download managers offer Internet streaming video downloads as an added feature. The best of these download managers is Orbit Downloader, which is one of a few programs that will download from nearly every video-sharing site, and surprisingly, it is free to use. For Linux, there are a plethora of scripts and programs to download and, in some cases, convert streaming Flash video. The most notable of these programs are Youtube-dl, PyTube, both of which feature GUIs, and the excellent Clive, which is a command-line program. Sadly all of these utilities are dedicated only to Youtube, you're out of luck if you want to save from any other video-sharing site.
Now that I have highlighted the pitfalls and frustrations of saving online streaming Flash video using conventional tools, I shall demonstrate a fool proof method to save streaming videos straight to your hard disk without having to use any third-party programs or visiting any video download sites. I have successfully used this method in Ubuntu Linux for over 2 years, but all the directions shown in this article should apply to any modern Linux release.
Since we're using Linux our primary browser and Flash video player, provided the right plugins are installed, is Firefox. Every time we play a video on Youtube or from some other video sharing site, the video caches in your computer. You can see this in Youtube when the little red bar expands, that's the video download progress indicator. The video is downloaded in two places on your hard-drive: the cache folder in the current user's Firefox profile directory and in Linux's tmp directory. The tmp directory typically holds all temporary files needed by the system at any given time and is found at "/tmp". The tmp directory is invaluable in our attempts to save streaming flv video.
The cache folder in the Firefox profile directory is normally found in the current user's home directory, for example "/home/user1/.mozilla/firefox/dfg6njzu.default/Cache". This is a hidden directory and you won't normally see it in your file manager, you will have to manually type out the path or change the settings in your file manager to show hidden files. In addition to being difficult to locate, the Firefox cache directory is normally very cluttered with hundreds of files - remnants from the most recent browsing session. It can be overwhelming to sift through all those files to find one downloading Flash flv video file. This is why I highly recommend you ignore the Firefox cache directory and focus solely on the /tmp folder to find the downloading flv file.