Today, the Linux world is on the brink when it comes to Flash. It could be the brink of good news, and the brink of very bad news. Adobe hasn’t really communicated well with the Linux community, and that’s a shame. Flash was supposed to be one of the technologies that made traditional Linux devices successful. But, due to the mobile revolution, Linux got lost in the dialogue.
Support for the traditional Linux flash plug-in is coming to an end. Adobe AIR support ended long ago. All that is left today, is the Pepper Flash plug-in that is integrated into Google Chrome.
And, really, that technology should be enough. Google is right, PPAPI (Pepper) is a major innovation that replaces the NPAPI (Netscape web browser plug-in) architecture. It’s long overdue. The problem is that still, to this day, Adobe refuses to provide Linux (and Android) users with a standalone way of obtaining the Pepper Flash Plugin.
The only way to get the PPAPI/Pepper Flash plug-in, is to download and install Google Chrome, accept its license agreement, and then hook into its infrastructure. You cannot, today, build a Flash app on Linux without being depending on Google’s web browser.
Similarly, on Android, despite Pepper working on Chromium for Android, there is no way to use the most popular Pepper plugin on Android today – at least, without childish hacks like downloading Google Chrome for Linux, tearing apart its package, and extracting the Pepper Flash plug-in. No commercial developer can rely on this method.
I’ve reached out to Adobe several times. We’ve tried to get the PPAPI plugin for our traditional Linux efforts, and we’ve tried to get Adobe AIR running on Android on x86. Neither effort has been productive, I’ve mashed more keys than in this open letter, and gotten zero replies. It seems Adobe is content with letting Flash and AIR not reach their fullest potential on these disruptive platforms. Considering the code is already there, I’m left asking why.
On a brief aside, I do hope in penning this letter that Adobe does reach out to us, and we can get something innovative going. My team is building the most powerful devices ever to run Android – I realize startups have communication issues with big companies, but let’s get the ball rolling here, okay?
Adobe has recently said, not to me of course, but in other statements, that they are willing to discuss licensing PPAPI/Pepper Flash Plugin for applications other than Google Chrome. Here’s an idea; just do it already. Package up the binary, attach a EULA, and post it on adobe.com – it would take no more than a day’s effort to do. It should have been there from the moment the Flash Plugin went PPAPI on Linux to begin with. It’s long overdue for Adobe to right this wrong.
There’s still time to turn this around. If Adobe offers Pepper Flash plugins, both ARM and x86, on their web site as standalone downloads, it could spark a new wave of innovation in Linux and Android Flash utilization. Standalone players can deliver impressive, Stage3D enhanced games, and end-users can enjoy as-good-as-Windows Flash support in their applications. It may be years late, but it’s time for Adobe to stand up and either offer this support, or abandon Flash on Linux altogether. If Adobe refuses to offer a standalone Pepper Flash plugin, it will be very clear to the community about how we should approach Flash in the future.