Adobe co-founder John Warnock in 2001, when Flash was useful. Photo: AP
While Adobe is finally mercy killing Flash, its multimedia software that helped power countless web applications like games and videos faced but widespread criticism for its rapid decline in usefulness and growing number of security vulnerabilities, some fans want to keep it alive as an open-source project for the future.
A petition circulated by web developer Juha Lindstedt is asking Adobe not to pull the software off the market entirely, but instead release it as an open-source project which could fix its many problems. Over 900 people have already starred it on Github.
“Flash is an important piece of Internet history and killing Flash Player means future generations can’t access the past,” Linstedt wrote. “Games, experiments and websites would be forgotten.”
“Open sourcing Flash would be a good solution to keep Flash projects alive safely for archive reasons,” Lindstedt added. “Don’t know how, but that’s the beauty of open source: You never know what will come up after you go open source!”
Most of Flash’s functionality is now moot, having been replaced with other open standards like HTML5, and it started entering its GeoCities phase when Google decided to ban its use in display advertising.
The idea triggered a mixed reaction on Y Combinator’s Hacker News board. One top commenter argued, “No no no no NO. It’s time to get rid of Flash. Open-sourcing will make it live forever,” saying open source would likely only kill off the “most trivial bugs” while leaving numerous vulnerabilities. Another shot back, “Very narrow minded. Tens of thousands of games rely on flash, along with many movies and general history of the internet. Open sourcing it will preserve countless hours of lost work.”
Adobe should open the Flash runtime to ensure preservation of vital cultural artifacts like ZomboCom & BadgerBadger. https://t.co/hz0gV8DVGZ
— Ryan Paul (@segphault) July 26, 2017
By far, the most troublesome aspect of the software is the numerous security holes it introduces to browsers while loaded as a plugin or part of a mobile browser. Security company Recorded Future ranked Adobe Flash Player as the most frequently exploited product in 2015, comprising “eight of the top 10 vulnerabilities leveraged by exploit kits,” and noting the existence “over 100 exploit kits (EKs) and known vulnerabilities.”
Many Y Combinator commenters argued the best way to build the project would be as a stand-alone emulator capable of running Flash’s .SWF format, which would be a good way for those still wishing to re-run really old episodes of Neurotically Yours and Newgrounds hentai games to do so in relative safety.
Gizmodo reached out to Lindstedt for comment, and will update if we hear back.