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.
“I started creating web with Flash 4 in 1999 and the Flash back then was the reason I got so excited about web developing,” Lindstedt told Gizmodo. “I have loads of old Flash projects archived and we as former Flash developers are afraid that we might lose access to them because of Adobe.”
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.”
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.
Lindstedt agreed that was the best way to go.
“We don’t want to preserve Flash Player, but to open source Flash spec so that there’s some way to access the history of Flash in the future,” he told Gizmodo.
Update: This article has been updated with comment from Lindstedt.