Earlier this year, Adobe announced its plans to abandon the widely used Flash plugin in Linux and other UNIX-like (excluding Apple’s Mac) operating systems. It meant that there won’t be a new version of Adobe Flash for these systems. Adobe, however, will continue to provide security updates to Flash on these systems for a period of five years. After that, Linux users will be forced to use the out-of-date Flash plugin indefinitely or switch to some alternatives like Gnash, which currently do not work well.
The problem is bigger than it sounds as Adobe will continue to release new versions of Flash for Windows and Mac and sites upgrading to those versions won’t run under Linux.
Google jumped in to the rescue of Linux users via its Chrome bowser. The two companies, Adobe and Google, are working closesly to implement a Pepper plugin in Chrome, that will allow users to view Flash content right from the browser in a sandboxed environment. While many users in Linux do use Google Chrome, it will leave Firefox lovers behind who do not have such a plugin. Mozilla had refused to implement the Pepper plugin in its browser.
The good news is Mozilla has announced the Shunway project that aims to provide a free and open-source alternative to the Flash player. This project will enable Firefox users to view SWF files and other rich content in their browsers, even if Flash plugin isn’t installed. The Shunway plugin is actually an HTML5 standalone module that renders flash.
You can try this software in a beta build of Firefox by downloading the extension from here.
With Firefox OS on it’s way, Mozilla can’t ignore a popular technology such as Flash even if it is becoming obsolete.