Adobe reanimates NPAPI Flash for Linux after 4-year stasis

NPAPI Flash Player for Linux is getting a stay of execution, along with updated features.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

After a reversal of course, reports of the death of the NPAPI implementation of Flash Player for Linux are not only greatly exaggerated -- Adobe also wants to give it a bunch of new code.

For the past four years, Adobe has held the version of its Flash Player based on the Netscape Plugin API (NPAPI) at version 11.2, while development of the Pepper Plugin API (PPAPI) version used in Chrome and Chromium browsers on Linux continued. The company said it would bring the NPAPI Flash Player up to speed and release it for testing.

Adobe announced the changes last week in a blog post where the company pledged to release both NPAPI and PPAPI versions at the same time, and on a regular basis.

Some features found in the PPAPI player, such as GPU 3D acceleration and video DRM, would not be ported.

In the time since the last major NPAPI Flash release, Firefox, the most-used non-PPAPI browser on Linux, has taken steps to stamp out NPAPI plugins and Flash.

Due to begin some time next year, Firefox will turn Flash off by default and require users to click to activate Flash content. The browser maker intended to begin blocking Flash content deemed "not essential to the user experience" last month, but work on the feature is ongoing.

Browser makers have been looking to retire the use of the Netscape Plugin API over recent years, with users needing to click to use non-Flash NPAPI plugins in Firefox, and Chrome having removed support for NPAPI altogether.

In January, Oracle announced that it would be deprecating its Java browser plugin this month, with its removal slated for an unspecified future release.

Google announced last month that it would begin blocking the use of Flash for analytics.

"Today, more than 90 percent of Flash on the web loads behind the scenes to support things like page analytics. This kind of Flash slows you down," Google said at the time.

Going a step further, Safari 10 on macOS hides information on legacy plugins.

In July, Adobe issued a security update which patched 52 vulnerabilities, including 33 memory corruption vulnerabilities that could lead to remote code execution.

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