back to article Petition calls for Adobe Flash to survive as open source zombie

A group of developers have taken to GitHub with a petition to save Adobe Flash following the Photoshop giant's largely welcomed decision to end support for the oft-reviled software in 2020. The petition to open-source Flash acknowledges Adobe's reasons for killing Flash, namely that it's been superseded and is woefully …

  1. Lord_Beavis
    Linux

    FFS

    Let it fucking die.

    1. LaeMing Bronze badge
      Coat

      Re: FFS

      Let it go, let it go

      Can't hold it back anymore

      Let it go, let it go

      Turn away and slam the door!

    2. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: FFS

      It's like a nasty STD that seems to be drug resistant .

      1. Geoffrey W Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: FFS

        RE: "It's like a nasty STD that seems to be drug resistant .:

        But look at how much fun we were all having in the 90's. We were just children playing in the street and we were punished far too harshly for what we did. Its tragic it had to end this way.

        1. kain preacher Silver badge

          Re: FFS

          Turns out that free love was not so free after all.

    3. Lotaresco Silver badge

      Re: FFS

      "Let it fucking die."

      Indeed. I've no idea why you have so many downvotes for that. I can only assume that some bearded hipster "web designers" have managed to get in here, somehow. The faster that Flash goes, the better. All we need to do is to make sure that no one bleeds into the coffin.

      1. BillG Silver badge
        IT Angle

        Re: FFS

        Open-source it.

        Why not?

        It will either serve as a bad example, or some teenager will fix all the security flaws in three weeks.

        1. Chemical Bob

          Re: FFS

          "Open-source it. Why not?"

          Because it would be a stain on the FOSS family escutcheon...

          (systemd is bad enough)

    4. Arthur the cat Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: FFS

      Let it fucking die.

      Too weak.

      Kill it with fire!

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: FFS

        But but I like watching classic Strong Bad Emails!

      2. davidp231

        Re: FFS

        Kill it with fire!

        Still too weak....

        Nuke it from orbit to be sure.

    5. macjules Silver badge

      Re: FFS

      Look at al the sad Flash designers down voting the OP.

      2001 called: can they have their swf back?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: FFS

        some might be BBC website users !

    6. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: FFS

      Nothing to stop someone reinstalling an old Flash binary to watch SWFs once it's dead, surely?

      Surely we have enough crappy freeware already! If someone maintains it, it will encourage people still to use it....

    7. Donkey Molestor X

      Re: FFS

      FFS

      Let Lord_Beavis die. At least you can play free, fun games with Flash. The only fun, free games I can play with Lord_Beavis are games with his stinking, rotten corpse.

      1. Lord_Beavis
        Mushroom

        Re: FFS

        "At least you can play free, fun games with Flash."

        Yes, yes. As long as you're entertained, poor security be damned.

        Go skull fuck yourself on a donkeys dick.

    8. zermok

      Re: FFS

      yeah, like you, you will die one day, and no one will remember of you if no photos or videos or what you developed.

  2. Tom 64
    Windows

    It's doubtfull Adobe will want to open source this

    .. and I can only begin to imagine the horrors lurking within.

    1. LaeMing Bronze badge
      Boffin

      Re: It's doubtfull Adobe will want to open source this

      The spaghetti code will feed a family of 12 devs. for a whole year, but!

    2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: It's doubtfull Adobe will want to open source this

      It's doubtfull Adobe will want to open source this

      .. and I can only begin to imagine the horrors lurking within.

      I had suggested the reason Lotus didn't release their SmartSuite specifications for so long was they didn't want people laughing at their coding. Either that or they didn't know where they kept them.

  3. highdiver_2000

    Looking at some of the apps that uses Flash and Java, ahem looking at you Cisco, I suppose this initiative.

    Some of these apps will be running for years.

    Just don't add new features, fix the bugs.

    1. Phil Kingston Silver badge

      99 little bugs in the code

      99 little bugs in the code

      Take one down, patch it around

      117 little bugs in the code

      1. Timmy B Silver badge

        "99 little bugs in the code...."

        Ah... The first law of programming entropy: "For every bug you remove two more will be created".

    2. macjules Silver badge

      CSC's entire Domain UI is in Flash, so is Comcast's MPX The Platform.

      I can hear the 'oh f*ckit" sighs coming already.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Destroy the culture too

    This must stand as a lesson against using proprietary closed source, corporate APIs, and DRM.

    Try open standards next time.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Destroy the culture too

      Wouldn't it be funny if Adobe *did* publish the code, thereby turning this into an open standard, and FOSS people then produced a Flash plug-in that ran on all platforms and didn't have a million holes?

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "and didn't have a million holes?"

        I wouldn't bet any open source implementation would be better.... especially if they reuse the old code and start to add features instead of rewriting it - and even rewriting it would be dangerous.

        1. Pirate Dave
          Pirate

          Re: "and didn't have a million holes?"

          "I wouldn't bet any open source implementation would be better.... especially if they reuse the old code and start to add features instead of rewriting it - and even rewriting it would be dangerous."

          Haven't we seen this before?

          First it would be a lone hacker with an itch to scratch.

          Then he'd invite his friends to help so he could finish the 0.9 version.

          The public would love it and download it millions of times.

          It would become too much for the lone hacker, so he'd pass it off to the community.

          The Community would make it awesome, way better than it was before.

          The Community would need a Committee.

          The Committee would want to start reigning things in for managability.

          The hacker influence would start to wane. Bloat would ensue.

          The Committee would recommend forming a Foundation.

          The Foundation would start making decisions on their own with little attention paid to the wants of the Community or the users.

          Eventually the Foundation would remove all menus, and other features that some users found useful

          The Community and users would complain

          The Foundation would suggest the users are ignorant and that they go fuck themselves

          Some details might be blurred in the shadows of time, but I swear I've seen something like this before, I just can't remember where.

      2. PNGuinn Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Destroy the culture too

        "Wouldn't it be funny if Adobe *did* publish the code, thereby turning this into an open standard, and FOSS people then produced a Flash plug-in that ran on all platforms and didn't have a million holes?"

        NO.

    2. d3vy Silver badge

      Re: Destroy the culture too

      Could you point to the open standard that was around in the mid 90s that could have competed with flash?

      1. luminous

        Re: Destroy the culture too

        How about pointing to an open standard that is around now that can compete with the functionality you can get in flash?

        I remember some really incredible sites (one that comes to mind is Jim Carrey's old one), and it would cripple all but the very high powered computers to do anything even remotely like that using modern open standards.

        I've got nothing against retiring technologies, but doing it before there is something else that can do the same job seems a shame.

        One example I can think of is a client wanted an animated logo on their splash page. The swf is 16kb, the jquery version is 205kb. Is that really progress?

        Just because many people use a technology in a bad way, doesn't mean you should get rid of it. Should we just ban all music because of the likes of bieber et al?

        1. Test Man

          Re: Destroy the culture too

          >> Should we just ban all music because of the likes of bieber et al?

          Yes*

          *Not really

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Destroy the culture too

          > The swf is 16kb, the jquery version is 205kb

          Without even seeing it, I'm confident I could do it in 1kb using SVG, CSS and vanilla javascript.

          Also, fuck splash pages. Fuck animated logos.

          1. Steve Foster

            Re: Destroy the culture too

            Animated GIF would be pretty small too.

        3. Lotaresco Silver badge

          Re: Destroy the culture too

          "Just because many people use a technology in a bad way, doesn't mean you should get rid of it. "

          So you haven't understood the problem with Flash then, have you? It's not "people using it in a bad way". It's the problem that Flash is a buggy mess of insecure code that compromises the security of both servers and clients. It's a foul mess best done away with.

          Do you own a lumberjack shirt despite living in the heart of the Crapital?

          1. s2bu

            Re: Destroy the culture too

            Okay, I'll definitely agree with you that it compromises the security of the client. How, exactly, does serving a .swf however compromise the security of the SERVER? We're not talking Cold Fusion here!

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Destroy the culture too

          "The swf is 16kb, the jquery version is 205kb. Is that really progress?"

          Where in the hell did the 205kb come from? If you want something small and quick, you don't use jquery, everyone knows this. That said, 205kb... not minified or something?

          jquery was great 8 years ago, but with all the native API changes added to the language, jquery has turned into the new Java Trap. Even WORSE actually, because people can learn to write better code than what jquery can provide, but they're just lazy and really don't know what they are doing.

        5. PNGuinn Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: Destroy the culture too

          "One example I can think of is a client wanted an animated logo on their splash page. The swf is 16kb, the jquery version is 205kb. Is that really progress?"

          Er ... why not go the whole hog and do without the f*(^$£% annoying animated logo in the first place?

        6. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: Destroy the culture too

          Should we just ban all music because of the likes of bieber et al?

          Not a problem, the right kind of software can replace him.

      2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: Destroy the culture too

        Could you point to the open standard that was around in the mid 90s that could have competed with flash?

        IBM HotMedia.

        Oh.... nevermind.

  5. Tim99 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Please, No!

    If academics and researches need to access "orphaned" flash works, they could have an old PC running whatever version of Windows, or a virtualised instance just for this work. It really should not be attached to any other network, and when crap infects it, it could be rebuilt. Then use them to create a new instance of the media with something saner.

    How about, as a last resort, playing it through a nice large screen with a decent audio output and recording it onto another device? Although one of the problems is that people, at the time, cannot always recognize what will be important in the future.

    We are now in danger of trapping ourselves so that we lose access to older material. The idea that if something is on the internet it will be there forever is rubbish - We have already lost much of the content from more than 10 years ago.

    In the early C19th using chlorine bleaching of wood pulp to make paper became common, and by the early C20th was ubiquitous. Unfortunately, the chlorine bleached paper was unstable and could crumble away over a few decades. Before this, most important "paper" documents were on vegetable/linen fibre paper. As a result, many documents since that time have disappeared from record, or are so fragile that they are not available to modern researchers. For important documents, archivists now have them printed onto "acid free" paper, which are expected to last 500-1000 years. This is one reason why old church records are often in good condition and can still be read, but many Victorian documents have disappeared.

    In the early 1980s I was involved in having to archive workplace health records which needed to be kept for 60+ years - It was suggested by a major IT supplier that we use "Write Once, Read Many times"(WORM) optical disks as they used a similar technology to CDs which were initially advertised as "Perfect Sound Forever" - They came back to us only a couple of years later when they realised that some of the media was failing. They recommended that we keep multiple copies of the data on hard drives, and move it on to new devices every few years - We did, but made certain that we printed multiple copies of everything using decent ink onto acid-free paper and archived the copies at multiple sites...

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: Please, No!

      How well does virtualization work?

      Suppose I want to emulate a Windows XP box in 2117, would I need a copy of Virtual Box running inside a copy of my Core i700 emulator running inside...

      And how would I activate Windows XP without the activation servers? Even with emulation we need to resolve the licensing and activation issues.

      1. Tim99 Silver badge

        Re: Please, No!

        @Adam 52

        Use an OS that is contemporaneous wiith the content does not use repressive activation, like Linux, BSD, or even OSX? The system does not connect to the internet.

      2. karlkarl Bronze badge

        Re: Please, No!

        Heh, you nailed it. This problem will become a major concern in the future and will lead to new laws on software lifespan to be created (and DRM terminated).

        Virtualization is a temporary solution to running oldish operating systems. In 2017, The fact that most 3D Windows 95 games are in the sweet-spot of being too old to run on a current system but too new to emulate is a great demonstration of what running software will be like at any point in the future.

        Virtualization (while it exists) only ever targets running modern systems as a VM whereas older systems are supported only as a "lucky byproduct". Oracle, Microsoft, VMWare and Extratiq all state that something like supporting Windows 95 does not make "business sense" and will never support it. In 100 years, Windows XP will not make "business sense" either.

        1. patrickstar

          Re: Please, No!

          I do agree with your general point, but I still have to point out that I have Windows 98 running in VMware just nicely. With network and all.

          Some of the crappier VMs might have issues with the 16 bit code though.

          1. Adam 52 Silver badge

            Re: Please, No!

            I think it's pertinent that we consider emulating a 20 yr old OS on a chipset with a backwards compatible design to be an achievement.

            That's a long way from the optical quantum machines in 2350 being able to emulate Windows XP. Hopefully they won't be x86 with quantum extensions.

            And yet I can nip over the other side of town and read Principia Mathematica from 330 years ago.

            1. Pompous Git Silver badge

              Re: Please, No!

              "And yet I can nip over the other side of town and read Principia Mathematica from 330 years ago."
              Always assuming you can read Latin and that you'd be allowed to handle a book that sold last year for $US 3,719,500.

      3. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Please, No!

        Just write your emulator in Javascript and you never have to worry about what the host machine is going to be again.

        1. Lotaresco Silver badge

          Re: Please, No!

          "Just write your emulator in Javascript "

          Stares.

          Stares long and hard, leaving scorch marks on the screen.

      4. mark l 2 Silver badge

        Re: Please, No!

        "And how would I activate Windows XP without the activation servers? Even with emulation we need to resolve the licensing and activation issues."

        I haven't activated a copy of XP for ages.(even when it was still in support) Using a OEM edition with the SLIC entries in virtual box you can trick it into thinking its a factory install on a Dell, HP, Lenovo or other manufacturer which activate without needing an internet connection and will pass any of the validity tests.

      5. Pirate Dave
        Pirate

        Re: Please, No!

        "And how would I activate Windows XP without the activation servers?"

        By 2117, shouldn't the hardware be able to crack the 2003 activation key encryption in like .25 seconds?

      6. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: Please, No!

        And how would I activate Windows XP without the activation servers? Even with emulation we need to resolve the licensing and activation issues.

        By 2117 ReactOS might be close to full WinXP compatibility.

        1. Pirate Dave
          Pirate

          Re: Please, No!

          "By 2117 ReactOS might be close to full WinXP compatibility"

          I wonder if Hurd will be ready by then?

    2. d3vy Silver badge

      Re: Please, No!

      "How about, as a last resort, playing it through a nice large screen with a decent audio output and recording it onto another device?"

      Well for a start that would turn a dynamic & interactive presentation into a static one... At least I've never seen a video with a working button....

      1. Tim99 Silver badge

        Re: Please, No!

        @dv3y

        I was talking about academics and researchers - They, or their assistants, have plenty of time :-)

        So record all of the possible permutations and combinations separately, and edit them together into a different format of media with the necessary links? It should be possible with HTML5...

        1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Please, No!

          So record all of the possible permutations and combinations separately, and edit them together into a different format of media with the necessary links? It should be possible with HTML5...

          And while you have solved the combinatorial explosion you will move on to the Halting problem?

        2. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: Please, No!

          "So record all of the possible permutations and combinations separately, and edit them together into a different format of media with the necessary links? It should be possible with HTML5..."

          Snarg

        3. d3vy Silver badge

          Re: Please, No!

          @Tim99

          "So record all of the possible permutations and combinations separately, and edit them together into a different format of media"

          Lets look at an example, a firm favourite from the golden days of flash, the 1990s - Joe Cartoon Frog in a blender.

          Go and google that *Simple* animation with at most 10 interactive buttons and tell me how long you think it would take to convert to something usable that worked in a close enough manner to not lose the meaning of the original.

          Now, thats obviously a daft example, no one is going to waste time converting that, but its a simple application and it would be massively time consuming - imagine the same for a bigger - more useful resource, why bother with that when the people that need it could just use the open source version that is being asked for here...

          Think of the resources serious and otherwise which will be lost if we can no longer run flash.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Tim99 Silver badge

        Re: Please, No!

        @Symon, have an upvote.

        Prior to 1849, record copies of Acts were handwritten onto animal skin parchment (usually goatskin). From that time onwards printed record copies use high quality vellum (calfskin). Private Acts have been printed on archival papers since 1956. In 2015 The National Archives advised that they do not need a vellum copy of Public Acts and that archival paper was sufficient. Printing on vellum continued for heritage and traditional reasons. In a FOI request the 2008 cost of printed vellum was quoted at £31.08 a page, which seems reasonable.

        In churches, records of important events like births, deaths and marriages were handwritten in archive quality paper books; as are the "original" signed copies of these documents. Normally Wills, etc., are on acid-free paper. Early church codices were written onto papyrus or animal skin. Unbleached cellulose fibre paper goes back at least 2,200 years in China. Good quality paper can still be made from reclaimed hrmp, linen and cotton rags.

      2. MJB7

        Re: Vellum

        If you *really* want durability, there's nothing beats cuneiform on baked clay tablets. Proven lifetime of more than five millenia.

  6. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    There already *are* open source alternatives to Flash that can play older games and a VM ( as suggested above) is a viable solution for the remainder. I think this new proposal would simply keep Adobe's implementation, bugs and all, limping on indefinitely. (The sociopaths who currently refuse to remove the Flash crap on their websites would jump at the chance to keep it alive forever.)

    1. tony2heads

      Is that Gnu Gnash that you are referring to

      1. Denarius Silver badge

        have a horrible feeling

        that a couple of open source media players already play flush files aside from gnash. For those who want to use those files of course. Now if the c****n* who insist on using Flush as part of their government associated sites could just be flushed down sewers also I would be slightly mollified.

  7. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
    Trollface

    Open source it!

    This is the perfect opportunity to reimplement it as part of systemd.

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Open source it!

      > This is the perfect opportunity to reimplement it as part of systemd.

      Be patient! Kindly wait until sytemd-wwwbrowser has been finished.

      1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

        Re: Open source it!

        You may laugh but considering that Poettering gets his OS user-space design classes from Microsoft, and there is Windows service "WinHTTP Web Proxy Auto-Discovery", which in fact is HTTP stack built into the OS, it is imaginable he might just do the same. And then invite Gnome developers to make it a dependency.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bad idea

    As others have said, it's a bad idea to revive Flash as an open-source zombie. It would only make the technology live longer than useful.

    And for people worried about history being lost, get a VM to emulate it, already ! The Amiga still lives in emulators after all, there's no reason Flash wouldn't do the same.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flash (Gordon's) Alive.

  10. Slx

    I think it’s really time it was just let go. The sooner legacy Flash junk gets off the web, the better.

  11. David Austin

    It's Legacy Tech

    If you wanna play with it, fire up a Windows 98 VM without internet access, the same way that someone would want to play with any old versions of stuff in a secure way (Looking your way, RealMedia)

    Nothing stopping you building an oldskool machine with 1995/1998/2001 era technology and software. No need to keep this zombie shuffling on for the rest of us.

    1. find users who cut cat tail

      Re: It's Legacy Tech

      > If you wanna play with it, fire up a Windows 98 VM

      How long before you need an emulator to run the VM that can run Windows 98?

      > Nothing stopping you building an oldskool machine with 1995/1998/2001 era technology and software.

      Yes, nothing, except possibly the enormous effort required.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

        Re: It's Legacy Tech

        "Yes, nothing, except possibly the enormous effort required."

        Well, either you want something, or you don't.

      2. PNGuinn Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: It's Legacy Tech

        "Yes, nothing, except possibly the enormous effort required."

        Some people feel that really heinous crimes require a really strong deterrent.

      3. d3vy Silver badge

        Re: It's Legacy Tech

        "Yes, nothing, except possibly the enormous effort required."

        And cost.

        I wanted to play some dos based games a while ago and they just wont work well when emulated.

        So I though, "I know Ill jump on eBay and pick up a 90's era machine for a few ££"

        How wrong I was, back in '98 I built an (at the time) kick ass machine.

        AMD K6 266MHz processor

        32MB Ram

        4.3GB HDD

        15" Monitor

        Voodoo 3 Graphics Card

        It cost me around £450

        To buy a machine on eBay with the same spec now I'd need about the same money again.

        Wish I'd kept it now instead of binning it.

  12. Dieter Haussmann

    I doubt it. It was a honey-trap myriad of backdoors all along.

  13. Tinslave_the_Barelegged Silver badge

    No problem

    I can't believe this is even being discussed when systemd plans to include a flash player. Sure it will only run as root, but that's good, right?

    (yes, it still hurts.... Thanks for asking)

  14. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Unbelievable!

    Important Content -> Flash

    Does not compute

  15. CFWhitman

    I'm guessing that the end of Flash development will allow at least one of the open source efforts to re-implement a Flash player to catch up to the current state of affairs. That can be the new Flash if there needs to be one (which I suspect there might be to at least some extent).

  16. El

    And yet I still encounter websites that refuse to display anything unless I install Adobe Flash first!

    1. PNGuinn Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      "And yet I still encounter websites that refuse to display anything unless I install Adobe Flash first!"

      Obligatory "Move along now - nothing to see here"

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        That's why it's important to remember history so we don't make the same mistakes. After all, only complete morons created entire websites out of flash (rather that using flash to enhance a real website)... we wouldn't want the same class of morons to do the same with new technology would we?

        Oh wait... JavaScript...

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          "only complete morons created entire websites out of flash (rather that using flash to enhance a real website)"

          With 'Snarg', Artist Drops Oils for Flash

          Snarg

          Presumably "real" websites are created with oil paint on hand-woven linen canvas from the Himalayas...

          NB. I've linked to Jef's original Snarg from ca. 1997 rather than what it has evolved into and the NYT article now links to.

    2. Tom 64

      >"And yet I still encounter websites that refuse to display anything unless I install Adobe Flash first!"

      Suggest you stay away from those clown porn sites, no good can come of it.

  17. Number6

    Some of the BBC website content is still in Flash. I notice this because I've mostly removed Flash plugins from my systems and so get an error message telling me I need Flash to view the content. I close the browser window at that point.

  18. John H Woods Silver badge

    Much of the Flash ...

    ... that is worth keeping can simply be converted to video. I rather liked the "Decline of Video Gaming" series ...

    1. patrickstar

      Re: Much of the Flash ...

      Vector graphics tend to look crappy if encoded as normal video (those sharp edges aren't really appreciated by most video codecs).

      And Flash is a lot, lot more than just a vector animation toolkit.

  19. zermok

    Amazing how people are control minded

    Just FYI, the standards today are controlled by the same clube of 33 you hate because of corporations blabalbla....

    https://www.w3.org/Consortium/Member/List

    so if you think that to be against a type of technology thinking that you are a freedom rebel so you have been fooled.

    Personally it's much much more fun to program in Actionscript that Javascript, I would say javacrap...

    and take much less time, allowing me enjoy life with my beloved ones.

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