Why No Flash Support for Linux Is Good for Open Source

Why No Flash Support for Linux Is Good for Open Source

The upcoming end of support for Adobe Flash in the open source Chromium browser for Linux is actually a good thing for the Linux world.

Flash, the ubiquitous media framework for the Web, soon will no longer work for Linux users of the Chromium browser, the open source version of Google Chrome. Is it time for the Linux world to panic? Not at all.

Here's what's happening: Soon, the means by which Flash support was traditionally implemented in Chromium, via a plugin originally designed for Netscape, will no longer work. Instead, Flash support will come in the form of a new API called Pepper, which Google has created for Chrome.

For Linux users, the problem is that Pepper is available only for Chrome, not its open source cousin, Chromium. And while it may be possible technically to make Pepper work in Chromium, doing so will require more know-how than the average Linux user possesses.

That's bad news for the Linux world, where almost half of Linux users run Chromium, according to one source. And for other browsers, Flash support on Linux ended with Flash version 11.2, which still works well enough for now, but which may cease to be effective in the future. This is all to say that soon, neither Chromium, nor Firefox, nor any of their offshoots or open source betters likely will be able to display Flash-based content effectively.

But so far, few people are actually panicking about this, as indeed they shouldn't. In many ways, vanishing Flash support for Linux is actually a good thing, because it will only help to hasten the disappearance of Flash altogether. After all, as Jim Lynch noted over at IT World, Apple iOS has never had Flash support, and that hasn't dampened the massive popularity of iPads or iPhones. This is particularly true as technologies such as HTML5 are making Flash unnecessary for delivering Web content.

This is a case, then, in which denying support for a particular software package to the Linux community actually will benefit the community—and the IT world more generally—in the long run. That rarely happens, but when it comes to Flash, disappearing support for Linux can only prove to be a good thing.

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