Adobe Flash in Linux

Pepper Flash for Firefox

The experimental NPAPI wrapper provides an interesting alternative if you do not want to install an ancient Flash on your system. The plugin allows you to use the current PPAPI plugin in Firefox, too. Additionally, the Fresh Player plugin [6] translates NPAPI plugin selections from Firefox into those the current PPAPI plugin understands. You can thus download the current Flash plugin version 15.0 in Firefox 33 and newer.

However, you will not find the plugin in the package sources; even Ubuntu 14.10 does not offer the experimental software. Go back to the WebUpd8 PPA package source [7] in Ubuntu so that you do not have to set up the Fresh Player plugin yourself; Arch Linux users will find the program in the Arch User Repository (AUR) [8].

The commands in Listing 3 add the PPA to the Ubuntu package management and install the Fresh Player and the Pepper Flash plugin. After installing the plugin, Firefox reports in the Shockwave Flash section of about:plugins. However, the Adobe Flash test page says it has a current Adobe Flash 15.0 – which is indeed ultimately true.

Listing 3

Install Fresh Player and Pepper Flash


Do not, however, expect too much from the ppapi2npapi wrapper: The plugin is considered an experimental alpha. Several users have reported crashes and a noticeably slower browser, so only install the Fresh Player plugin if you want to get involved in experiments.

If you again want to uninstall the plugin completely, remove it from the system using the commands in Listing 4 and restore the previous state. Please note that the command removes the complete WebUpd8 PPA along with all the programs installed from the first line.

Listing 4

Remove Fresh Player and Pepper Flash


Opera Developer Knows PPAPI

The Norwegian browser Opera has not only missed three version numbers with the jump from Opera 12.x to Opera 15, it has also redeveloped its browser from scratch. Whereas Opera was previously a completely independent beast, the current Opera versions rely on the Chromium source code. Opera 12.x is still the official Opera release in Linux, but the new branch can be downloaded from the web as a developer edition [9].

Opera Developer version 22 relies on Chromium 35 – the Chromium version that made the switch from NPAPI plugins to PPAPI plugins. Thus, the current Opera generation can no longer deal with the old NPAPI Flash (Figure 2) and needs Pepper Flash, like Chromium itself. It is therefore important for Opera fans with the developer version on their computers to observe the next section on Flash with Chromium.

Figure 2: The Opera browser's developer version supports the Pepper Flash plugin.

Pepper Flash without Chrome

Unlike Firefox and Opera 12.1, Chromium (the open source equivalent of Chrome) can already cope with PPAPI plugins. For this reason, support for the old NPAPI plugins was cancelled completely in the program, meaning that numerous other plugins no longer work in Chromium. So, for Flash in Chromium, you have to rely on the current Pepper Flash version, which Adobe only provides as a bundle with Chrome. Thus, it's necessary to pilfer the browser plugin from the Chrome package.

Ubuntu 14.04 and Debian Unstable or "Wheezy" with activated backports offer the chance to install Pepper Flash without Chrome via the pepperflashplugin-nonfree package. The software fishes the current version of Chrome off the web and only unzips the Flash part from Google's DEB package – the rest is sent to /dev/null.

The first selection in Listing 5 installs the package; the second links the new Flash library properly in the system so that PPAPI-enabled browsers like Chromium or Opera Developer can find the plugin right away and add it to their plugin library. Keep in mind, however, that the package does not automatically update: You need to check for pending Flash updates yourself and install them as required (Listing 6).

Listing 5

Install Pepper Flash without Chrome


Listing 6

Install Updates


Please check here with chrome://plugins, or on the Adobe Flash test page, whether the installation was actually successful. The pages should report that Flash 15.0 (last updated: October 2014) is already on the computer.

In terms of Flash, you are just as up to date in Chromium and Opera Developer as you are in Chrome. However, Chromium does not bind you as tightly to Google services, and the browser's source code is completely open.

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