johnsu01 (johnsu01) wrote,
johnsu01
johnsu01

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Flash, lost in Lodi

I don't like Flash. It's proprietary software, with an obnoxious license that people only agree to because they assume that it will never be enforced against them. Oh, but it's a free download. Nice. Depending on the context, that could be called spyware. Or did you actually intend to invite Macromedia/Adobe into your house "upon reasonable notice" to conduct an audit of your usage of this ostensibly no-strings-attached software?

We do have Gnash — it will be "there" soon. But in many ways, I personally don't actually want Gnash. Maybe it's just badly written Flash to blame, but browsing the web with Flash on in my experience was an absurd process full of hangs, glitches and outright crashes. The web really doesn't have to be that way.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to get Firefox to accommodate my desire to reject Flash entirely. It always shows the above informative bar across the top that tells me I'm missing a plugin. Is there a way to make this disappear? If not, I think that would be a very valuable patch to contribute. Free software users who make the decision not to install Flash shouldn't have to be faced with this rather ugly artifact on each freedom-impaired page they view.

The desire for this option has come up in conversation a few times recently around the office. There is the Flashblock extension, but in general I try to minimize the number of extensions I rely on, since they are often unclear about their licensing, they inevitably cause problems during upgrades, and they sometimes don't play well together.

I realized after getting home tonight that I could just block all Flash outright with Privoxy, which I use all the time anyway. It turns out to be a cinch — I just had to add +filter{shockwave-flash} in my default.action file, in the Defaults section.

It's not perfect yet — some Flash objects are still sneaking through. The comments in the default.action file hint at a more sweeping regexp to use, but so far I've not been able to get it to eliminate everything.

But anyway, the web just got a little more peaceful.

Tags: firefox, flash, free software, privoxy
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