The end of Adobe Flash Player, and how to continue using it

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jdl
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The end of Adobe Flash Player, and how to continue using it

Post by jdl » Wed Dec 09, 2020 2:20 am

I know that this has been known for some time now (I think since 2017?), but I just felt like making this thread in case there are others here who are concerned about being unable to use Flash after December 31st, 2020. Who knows, this thread might even turn up in search results and help someone who isn't even registered here.

You heard right, the days of using Flash Player as you knew it are now over.
Adobe has pretty much ended support for it, and they are no longer allowing anyone to download and install it.
It has also stopped working since January 12, 2021.
Browsers are soon going to be disabling the loading of it as well, and many, many sites will go down due to the lack of visitors.
That's just the way it goes when older technologies eventually get replaced with newer ones, like HTML5 in this case.

But Flash will not be forgotten, and it's not necessarily going to be "gone" or completely unusable, as I'll explain later on.

I remember playing lots of browser games when I was growing up. Some were Java Applet games, like the original Minecraft "Classic" version, and others were Shockwave games, like Ezone's Lenny Loosejocks in Space. Neither of those platforms seemed to be as popular as Flash Player though. These .SWF files have played a huge role throughout the entire internet. Games, animations, even entire websites were made in Flash. At one point in time, YouTube required Flash in order to play videos. (Remember when the subscribe button was yellow? Eh, now I'm just getting off-topic...) Anyways, the point is that most people have used Flash at some point in their Internet Life™ and are probably going to want to continue using it after it's gone.

Like I said, Adobe has discontinued support for it and is no longer offering any Flash Player downloads. You may be wondering "What if I already have Flash installed?" Well, some browsers like Firefox are going to stop loading the plugin soon as well. Chrome has already removed Flash entirely. But let's pretend for a second that they're not going to stop loading Flash. There will still be a problem because apparently sometime back in May 2020, Flash Player has had a killswitch added to it. This killswitch has now made Flash Player unable to load Flash files entirely since January 12, 2021. Even the latest standalone version of Flash Player (a single executable file) has the killswitch inside of it, however it has not been activated as of yet. Anyway, there are a few solutions though that I will go into below.

Solutions
#1 - Flashpoint
Playing games and watching cool animations is probably what everyone uses Flash for nowadays anyway, so here is the first solution.
Flashpoint is a volunteer project that is about preserving not only Flash games, but also games from pretty much any other browser plugin you can think of, like Shockwave, Java, ActiveX, Silverlight, etc. It's like Steam, except all the games are free and they're browser games. Flashpoint does not use any versions of Flash that have the killswitch, so it will still be able to run games just fine after January 11th. At the time of writing this, they have over 70,000 games and 8,000 animations currently archived. They have two branches of the project: Ultimate and Infinity. Ultimate is a single, extremely large download of EVERYTHING they have archived so far that can be played offline, while Infinity is a smaller download that downloads the games on-demand. Games downloaded from Infinity can be played offline, but that's not always the case with games that download additional files when they need them. For example the game Acno's Energizer only loads level .txt files when the game needs them, so if you play up to level 9 while online and try to play level 10 offline, it won't work since the file for level 10 hasn't been downloaded yet but the first 9 levels will still work. It's not really too much of an issue though since most people have a constant internet connection nowadays anyway, and there's lots of games that are contained within a single file.

Flashpoint's Website: https://bluemaxima.org/flashpoint/

#2 - Using Adobe's Standalone Player
If you want a method for playing SWFs, whether you've downloaded them or you know the link to them, then you can use this. The Standalone Flash Player is basically a single, portable executable file that contains the entire Adobe Flash Player in it. Just open it and load in your favorite SWF file and you're all set to go. The latest Standalone Player does have the killswitch in it, but it has not been activated yet, and the details of why it hasn't are to be determined. You can download an archived version the latest Standalone Player by clicking here. If you want to use a version that doesn't have the killswitch, I suggest using the version that Flashpoint currently uses, which is v32.0.0.363.

You can find this version of the Standalone Player here: https://web.archive.org/web/20200522093 ... rchive.zip

If you're trying to load multi-asset games, use this version of the Standalone Player instead since later versions have local-file permission shenanigans: https://web.archive.org/web/20200709160 ... rchive.zip

The zip files contain regular installers for Flash for multiple operating systems along with the Standalone Player, whose filename should end in "_sa.exe". You don't need to worry about the installer files, but I'll explain below what they are for anyone curious. Also, ignore the debug folders in the zips unless you know what you're doing. I'm not sure myself what it's all for.

-------------------------

As far as I know here are what the other Windows files are for that are included in the zips:
(...)_363_win.exe/msi - NPAPI installers.
(...)_363_winax.exe/msi - ActiveX installers (Internet Explorer).
(...)_363_winpep.exe/msi - PepperFlash/PPAPI installers.
uninstall_flashplayer32_0r0_363_win.exe - The uninstaller, I assume.

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#3 - Portable Versions of Firefox & Chrome

Please understand that you should only use these portable versions for playing Flash content only. NOT for normal web browsing use since these versions will not be updateable and therefore could present security problems, which is why I highly recommend that you do not use this solution.

Someone has put together a portable version of Firefox and Chrome that has Flash Player already built in! You will need to uninstall Flash Player from your computer for it to work though (Control Panel -> Uninstall a program). These portable versions can be used even if you already have Firefox or Chrome installed, since it's completely separate from them.

Download Link (Click "Show All" on the right of the page and then choose the zip that's best for you): https://archive.org/details/Firefox_Chrome_Adobe_Flash

I have only tested the Firefox version of this since I don't use Chrome anymore, so any further steps for this section will be for Firefox.
These extra steps are completely optional, but I wanted to include them because they're what I'm using.

1. After downloading the Firefox zip that's in your prefered language and unzipping the FirefoxPortable folder, open FirefoxPortable and set up the browser to your liking.
2. Go to the Firefox Addons website and install an Ad Blocker extension. I suggest Ublock Origin. At the time of writing this, this portable version of Firefox is still able to install addons from the addons website, but in the future, the latest addons will most likely be incompatible due to how outdated the browser version will be, so make sure to install what you want now.
3. Disable updates for addons. You can do this by pressing Ctrl+Shift+A, clicking "Extensions" on the left of the page, clicking the little Gear Wheel, and then unchecking "Update Add-ons Automatically". If you read the previous step then you should know why you'd want to do this.
4. I don't know if these portable versions have browser updates disabled, but to make sure that nothing breaks, we're going to disable browser updates entirely. Go into Firefox's browser options, go to the general tab, scroll down and make sure Firefox Updates is set to "Check for updates but let you choose to install them" and also uncheck "Use a background service to install updates". Next, you want to navigate to your FirefoxPortable folder > App > Firefox64 and create a folder called "distribution". Inside this folder, create a file called "policies.json". You will want to put the following code inside of this file:

Code: Select all

{
"policies": 
   {
     "DisableAppUpdate": true
    }
}
If you are ever going to run FirefoxPortable on a 32-Bit machine, you will want to copy the distribution folder into FirefoxPortable folder > App > Firefox instead.
5. Finally, if you want to open local Flash files in Firefox, follow this last step. Type "about:config" into the address bar and press enter. Press the blue button. In the preference name search field that appears, type "plugins.http_https_only". There should only be one entry that appears. Double-click this entry to set it to false, and then close out of the tab.
You should be ready to go!

#4 - Ruffle, the Flash Player Emulator
This is an interesting one, but it's not really a solution at the moment though since it's still in its early stages. You can check the project out here: https://ruffle.rs/


That's all for now.
I hope this guide has helped someone! If there's any mistakes please feel free to post them below and I'll try to correct them.
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garirry
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Re: The end of Adobe Flash Player, and how to continue using it

Post by garirry » Thu Dec 10, 2020 11:26 pm

I recommend using Adobe Flash Projector. I don't recall hearing about any kill switch (especially for the standalone), but that one has been working for me for a while now. It's also cross-platform (works on Linux). Link here: https://www.adobe.com/support/flashplay ... loads.html

Thanks for posting this, by the way.
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Re: The end of Adobe Flash Player, and how to continue using it

Post by jdl » Fri Dec 11, 2020 12:46 am

Ah, yes, the Flash Player Projector is the actual name for the "Standalone Player" I was talking about.
I guess I just forgot the official name, oops. :lol: For anyone confused, they're both the same thing. I'm too lazy to fix the guide to reflect this though.

Anyway, I found a source for the kill switch from Adobe themselves (although they don't outright call it that): https://helpx.adobe.com/flash-player/re ... notes.html
Adobe will no longer support Flash Player after December 31 2020, and Adobe will block Flash content from running in Flash Player beginning January 12 2021; Adobe strongly recommends all users immediately uninstall Flash Player to help protect their systems.
I'm under the impression that the kill switch is included in the newer Flash Player Projectors as well because the Flashpoint FAQ states this:
Flashpoint will continue to work in 2021 and beyond. The Flash plugin and projectors that we use do not contain the "kill switch"; this was added in a later version of the plugin.
But thinking about it a little more, now I do wonder if it's true. I guess we'll see whenever the time comes. In any case, it is for sure included in the browser plugins, and that is why I have linked to an older version of the Standalone Flash Projector in my guide. If it turns out that it is NOT included in the Projectors, I have archived the latest version (final version) of the Windows Projector here: https://web.archive.org/web/20201211004 ... _32_sa.exe
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Re: The end of Adobe Flash Player, and how to continue using it

Post by jdl » Tue Dec 15, 2020 8:10 pm

Minor update.
Firefox 84.0 was released today. According to its release notes, it will be the final version to support Flash Player.
I have included this information in the guide.
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Re: The end of Adobe Flash Player, and how to continue using it

Post by jdl » Wed Jan 13, 2021 6:28 pm

I have updated the guide with a new solution, Portable versions of Firefox and Chrome (although I do not recommend using them).
I've also fixed some phrasing now that January 12th has passed.

Also, the latest standalone player does still function, but why and for how long is yet to be determined.
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Re: The end of Adobe Flash Player, and how to continue using it

Post by Wonderman109 » Tue Feb 09, 2021 2:45 pm

Good thread.

Thank you for making this, Jacob!
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Re: The end of Adobe Flash Player, and how to continue using it

Post by Kilicool64 » Fri Feb 12, 2021 12:32 pm

I know you only referred to it in a single sentence, but ActiveX is not actually a plugin. It's the framework that's used to embed plugins in Internet Explorer. The IE versions of Flash, Shockwave etc. all use it. It's just that this technology is also used for a lot of single purpose plugins that simply function as one game, so instead of classifying all of those as their own plugins (which is technically accurate, but would get extremely messy), the Flashpoint developers decided to just treat them all as one plugin.
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