Make Webex work in Ubuntu 11.10 64 bit

Today I wanted to attend a webinar put together by the people in The European IPR Helpdesk about Intellectual Property and Intellectual Property Rights. I plan to attend many others during the following weeks, because the topics are very interesting for companies exploring EU R&D funding programmes such as FP7. Here is the list of webinars for the first quarter of the year, have a look.

Igalia is currently involved in two FP7 project proposals submitted to the EC for evaluation and we plan to make part of a few more consortia for R&D projects soon. We are also looking for ways to start our own projects and get them accepted in national programmes and smaller European opportunities. We recently hired specialised staff and we seize training opportunities such as these IPR Helpdesk seminars.

The only drawback is that they are using Webex for these webinars. Webex is a solution for meetings that integrates chat, VoIP, VideoConferencing and desktop sharing. It is made by Cisco and it is not open source. There are some open source alternatives to Webex, like OpenMeetings and BigBlueButton, but they are not as popular.

Anyway, I was forced to use Webex and tried to enter the webinar only to find out that although I could join the event and chat to the host, I could not see the desktop that the speaker was sharing nor hear anything. I was stuck before the following error message:

“The Audio Device is Unaccessible Now”

After searching a bit on the web, I found dozens of posts and bug reports regarding this issue in different combinations of Ubuntu/Java/Firefox setups. None of them worked until I found this comment by someone called Steve on a blog post about making Webex work in Ubuntu 9.10 64 bit. The root of all problems is that Webex does not officially support 64 bit Linux. So part of the solution is having two separate Firefox/Java setups in your machine, one 64 bit and one 32 bit to use for Webex sessions. Even better, you can use Swiftfox for Webex and keep Firefox for your daily normal use.

Attending a webinar with Webex

So this is what I did:

  1. Install Swiftfox 32 bits
  2. Instal Java 32 bits
    • Go to
    • Download the self extracting file. The one that I got is: jre-6u31-linux-i586.bin
    • Grant execution permission for the file: chmod +x jre-6u31-linux-i586.bin
    • Execute it: sudo ./sh jre-6u31-linux-i586.bin
    • It will self-extract to a directory called: jre1.6.0_31
    • Copy that directory to an appropriate location, your home dir for example: cp  jre1.6.0_31 $HOME
  3. Make Swiftfox use the files in $HOME/jre1.6.0_31/
    • Go to /usr/lib/swiftfox/plugins/ and remove the following files if they exist:, and
    • Create the following links to the matching files in $HOME/jre1.6.0_31/

With ln -s link_name $HOME/jre1.6.0_31/target_name: -> /home/teo/jre1.6.0_31/plugin/i386/ns7-gcc29/ -> /home/teo/jre1.6.0_31/lib/i386/ -> /home/teo/jre1.6.0_31/lib/i386/

Now you should have a Swiftfox/Java 32 bit setup (besides your normal Firefox 64 setup) that you can use to join Webex events. You can try that your setup by joining this test meeting. Be careful to actually launch Swiftfox when you need it and not just a new Firefox window, run it from the terminal with this command to make sure, as explained here:

swiftfox -P -no-remote


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