Can Linux cope with 24 Hours of Happy?

I enjoyed Pharrell Williams’ feel-good songs in ‘Despicable Me‘ and its sequel, ‘Despicable Me 2‘. ‘Happy‘, a very catchy ditty he wrote for the sequel, also features in the World’s first 24-hour-long music video, ‘24 Hours of Happy‘, shot in and around Los Angeles and released on 21 November last year. The song is played a total of 360 times over the duration of the video, each 4-minute take featuring a different person or persons dancing (improvised) along streets, in petrol stations, through Union Station, in a church, around a school, in a moving school bus, around a supermarket, in a bowling alley, and so on. Each 4-minute performance was filmed in one take using Steadicam, and the location at the end of each take segues into the next take. You see the sun rise; you see the bright sunlight of the morning and the warm sunlight of the afternoon; you see the sun set; you see the twinkling city lights at night. The concept is simple yet brilliant.

Clips from some of the takes were used to create the 4-minute official music video for ‘Happy’, so you can watch that on YouTube to get a flavour of the takes, although it does not do justice to the full video.

Williams appears in a different take every hour on the hour, and a few other takes have celebrity cameos, but the vast majority of the participants are unknown extras of all ages, races, shapes, sizes and looks. To quote Williams talking to the Los Angeles Times: “We wanted all humanity in there, not just the model-types you might expect.” Some are good dancers, others not so good. But they all have one thing in common: they’re having fun, so they look good. The joy is infectious, and I found myself watching far longer than I would have expected, having to return to the site again and again. Half the fun is watching the bystanders.

When you open the ’24 Hours of Happy’ site, the take that was in progress at the current time of day starts playing from the beginning. However, you can drag the pointer around the clock dial and watch any take from the 24-hour period. There are also buttons you can click on to jump between takes or to jump to each take featuring Williams. The yellow on-screen controls can be made to disappear by not moving the mouse pointer for 5 seconds.

Still from 24 Hours of Happy, showing on-screen controls

Still from 24 Hours of Happy, showing on-screen controls

The Web site is well-designed and fun to use, so I was not surprised it was voted ‘Site of the Month‘ and ‘Site of the Year Users’ Choice‘ by AWWWARDS, and voted ‘Site of the Month‘ and ‘Site of the Year‘ by TheFWA.

It’s impossible to list them all, but a few of my favourite takes are:

01:36  Very perky woman with ponytail.
05:28  Jogger who has to keep pulling his shorts up!
08:24  Woman on roller skates.
09:52  Very cute little girl.
09:56  Woman with some groovy moves.
10:40  Woman in Union Station. Some of the bystanders are particularly amusing.
11:16  Man with cast on foot.
11:20  Boy with an Afro.
11:36  Three groovy old ladies.
11:44  Chubby guy with style.
12:36  Woman with some groovy moves.
13:32  Dancing couple in pink.
14:20  Two cool guys in dinner jackets inside and outside Union Station.
15:00  Pharrell Williams in a church with a gospel choir.
19:04  Woman with a lizard puppet. The lizard does the lip-synching!
19:36  Guy on stilts.
23:40  Woman with LED hula hoop (love it!).

If you want to start viewing a take made at a specific time of day, you can append the time to the URL, like so:

Obviously I think ’24 Hours of Happy’ is fabulous, but why am I discussing it in a blog predominantly about Linux? Because Firefox 27.0.1 (32-bit) running in Windows 8.1 (64-bit) on my new Acer Aspire XC-600 micro-tower PC (dual-core Intel Pentium G2030 @ 3 GHz & 3 MB cache, 4 GB DDR3 RAM) handles ’24 Hours of Happy’ at 720p with ease, but the story is very different on my main laptop running 64-bit Gentoo Linux with KDE (quad-core Intel Core i7 720QM @ 933 MHz & 6 MB cache, 4 GB DDR3 RAM). Both machines are on my home network, connected to the Internet via high-bandwidth broadband (FTTC).

On my laptop, the latest available versions of Firefox (27.0) and Opera (12.16_p1860-r1) for Gentoo, both 64-bit, do not even complete loading the ’24 Hours of Happy’ site: the black progress bar at the bottom of the home page stops about 7/8th of the way across the page and the KDE Network Monitor widget shows there is no network activity. Clearing Firefox’s Web content cache or increasing the cache’s size to 1 GB make no difference. Konqueror 4.12.2 (configured to use the WebKit browser engine rather than the KHTML engine) loads the site and plays it quite well at 720p to start with, but eventually video becomes choppy and I notice a lot of spawned kio_http processes. The KDE Network Monitor widget shows a continuous 3600 Kib/s data stream, which does not stop when I exit Konqueror. Numerous kio_http processes are spawned and remain after I exit Konqueror, and the 3600 KiB/s activity on the network only ceases when I kill all the kio_http processes. The number of spawned kio_http processes increases if I drag the pointer around the clock to select different takes, and the page just displays ‘LOADING’ ad infinitum if I do this several times. To be fair, if I do this a lot in Firefox running in Windows 8.1, I can get Firefox to stall too. I thought I’d try a lightweight browser and installed NetSurf (3.0-r1), but that couldn’t even render the title on the home page, let alone begin to load the video.

So, does ’24 Hours of Happy’ play nicely in your Linux installation? If it does, what hardware, distribution, desktop environment, browser and quality (360p, 480p, 720p or 1080p) are you using?

About Fitzcarraldo
A Linux user with an interest in all things technical.

5 Responses to Can Linux cope with 24 Hours of Happy?

  1. Joe Canadian says:


    Sabayon + Mate + Opera 12.16 (build 1860): Stalls at 3/4 loading

    Sabayon + Mate + Firefox Nightly (64 bit): Working @ 720

    • Fitzcarraldo says:

      So you have the same problem as me with the same build of Opera I tried.

      An ebuild for Firefox 27.0.1 was put in the Portage main tree on 26-Feb-2014 so I upgraded from 27.0 to 27.0.1, but Firefox 27.0.1 in Gentoo still cannot play ’24 Hours of Happy’.

      Tonight I installed the 64-bit Firefox Nightly (30.0a1 26-Feb-2014 12:41) using the straightforward tutorial on the following page:
      (‘How-to Install Firefox Nightly on Gentoo 2012 KDE4 x86_64 Easy Visual-Guide’)

      Firefox Nightly launches and browses the Web, but no plug-ins are available and so the ’24 Hours of Happy’ site loads the clock display and the other on-screen controls but the video does not play. How did you install the Adobe Flash plug-in for the Nightly? In fact, how did you install the Nightly?

      Out of curiosity I decided to install Google Chrome (the 64-bit package www-client/google-chrome-33.0.1750.117_p1 from the Portage main tree). Guess what? It handles ’24 Hours of Happy’ @ 1080p in my Gentoo installation without any trouble, and the network traffic is much lower than it is when I use Konqueror. Chrome is a binary package, unlike the Konqueror 4.12.2, Firefox 27.0 and 27.0.1 I installed, which are source code packages. I didn’t fancy installing Chromium (the package www-client/chromium in the main Portage tree), the open-source version of Google Chrome, as I know from past experience it takes ages to build from source on my main laptop.

      Anyway, my opinion of Firefox and Opera in Linux has gone down dramatically, and my opinion of Google Chrome in Linux has gone up! I’m disappointed that Firefox 27.0.1 in Windows can handle the site, but Firefox 27.0.1 in Linux cannot.

  2. Joe Candadian says:

    Actually, being preternaturally lazy, I don’t bother “installing” Nightly at all. Rather, I simply extract the folder to my desktop and run the Firefox executable in place.

    The upside to this is that it pulls the preferences from an existing installed Firefox (27.0), which should provide Nightly with required plugins.

    The flashplayer that I’m using is adobe-flash- (Limbo) and is located at /usr/lib64/nsbrowser/plugins.

    Oh, and regarding a possible future for Opera on Linux:

    • Fitzcarraldo says:

      I tried putting the Nightly folder in ~/Desktop/ but it still didn’t find the Flash plug-in. However, I repeated the tutorial I referenced earlier (I downloaded the latest 64-bit Linux Nightly: 28-Feb-2014 12:55) but added the following step:

      $ mkdir ~/.mozilla/plugins
      $ cp /usr/lib64/nsbrowser/plugins/ ~/.mozilla/plugins/

      Now the Nightly does find the Flash plug-in (, the latest version available in the Portage main tree), as proven by testing the Nightly with the Adobe Flash plug-in test page:

      However, the Nightly still does not load the video from the ’24 Hours of Happy’ site. As with Firefox 27.0.1, the black progress bar at the bottom of the site’s home page stops about 7/8th of the way across the page and the KDE Network Monitor widget shows there is no network activity. Pity.

      I’m now using Google Chrome as my main browser. According to the Flash plug-in test page on the Adobe site, Chrome for Linux 33.0.1750.117_p1 is using Flash plug-in Version, so I suppose the newer version of Flash used by Chrome in Linux may be the reason why Chrome is better than Firefox with respect to playing Flash in Linux.

      I recall reading that Google pays Adobe to be able to bundle a Flash plug-in with Chrome, whereas Mozilla does not have any arrangement with Adobe (I suppose Mozilla can’t afford to pay a licence fee to Adobe). Mozilla is developing Shumway, an open-source replacement for the Flash plug-in:

      Perhaps when that is ready it will enable Firefox to compete with Chrome again.

      • Fitzcarraldo says:

        Just for the record, I switched from Chrome back to Firefox some time ago. The site 24 Hours of Happy works fine in Firefox for Linux these days (I’m currently using 35.0), and I was missing some of the configuration options in Firefox. Furthermore, I feel ‘safer’ using Firefox rather than Chrome: I just don’t trust Google (Big Brother is watching you, and all that).

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