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No Food for Thought

Goodbye Flash, Hello Complete Freedom!

admin Sunday April 22, 2018

Although Debian has been my main home PC's OS for more than a decade, I've always used proprietary software on it. Usually various drivers or firmwares, and sometimes applications. But always, the 2 most popular browser plugins: Adobe Flash and Sun's Java plugin.

That was until approximately 2013, when I realized Sun's Java was no longer needed. And until now. Today, it had been a while since I had remembered to update my main PC's Flash plugin. And as happened last time, Debian's buggy flashplugin-nonfree package failed to perform the update. I thought it was time to check how badly my plugin was outdated, so I checked the version I had. And, after a while wondering what was going on, I realized I didn't have the plugin installed.

And indeed, my shell history shows I tried updating the plugin in September, and when I realized that was broken, I decided to uninstall it. It's coming back to me now. I uninstalled it thinking "Let's see what happens without". And I believe I realized playing videos got different. I do have considerable performance problems playing some videos now, and the lack of Flash may be a key factor in that (but it's a 5-year old PC, and perhaps there's a driver problem).

If you had asked me in 2006 if I could browse for 7 months without Flash without failing to do anything, I would have answered a most confident No. Yet, I am now using a free browser with 0 proprietary plugin/extension, and I didn't even realize it! And indeed, less than 5% of websites now use Flash! In fact, on this PC, the only proprietary software I still use is Citrix Receiver (for remote connection to work), AMD CPU and GPU microcode, and some proprietary scanning plugin for my HP LaserJet Pro all-in-one printer.

Thanks VP9, thanks Opus, thanks WebM. Thanks HTML5, ECMAScript and the rest
Congratulations Google, congratulations free codec developers. Congratulations web standard developers, web browser developers and webmasters
We made it!