Distribution of Adobe "Pepper" Flash Player plugin
For a long time, Debian has made available the Adobe Flash Player plugin
to its users via the flashplugin-nonfree package, in the contrib
section. This package does not contain the actual plugin, but a script
which downloads same from adobe.com and installs it. This is due to
Adobe's license for Flash not allowing redistribution , at least not
without applying for a distribution license .
(page 88, clause 3.3)
However, the situation may have changed with recent versions of Flash.
11.3 and later no longer support the old-as-dirt Netscape plugin
interface (NPAPI), and are instead written against a new plugin
interface developed by collaboration between Adobe and Google: PPAPI,
code-named "Pepper" . At this time, only Chrome/Chromium support
PPAPI (notably, Mozilla is out ). Presumably due to the narrow
browser support, and ongoing development of PPAPI, newer "Pepper"
versions of Flash are distributed only with Chrome---they are no
longer available as a separate download.
The EULA of Chrome  has, under a "Google Chrome Additional Terms of
Service" header, an "Adobe" section with what appear to be terms
permitting the redistribution of "Adobe Software." In particular,
subsections 3 ("EULA and Distribution Terms") and 4 ("Opensource")
describe requirements on the redistribution of the Flash Player, like
ensuring the EULA terms are present and not misrepresenting the software
as OSS, rather than a default prohibition.
With that noted, my question to this list is, what should a package
providing the "Pepper" Flash plugin legally be able to do? The options
I'm aware of, in order of decreasing desirability, would be as follows:
1. A package which includes the proprietary/binary-only Flash plugin
files (that have been copied out of a Google Chrome package), and is
distributed via non-free. No additional files then need to be
downloaded at install time.
2. A non-free package which includes the Chrome .deb file, from which
the Flash plugin files are extracted and put into place when the
package is installed. (This would address uncertainty in
distributing Flash separately from Chrome, in case that's an issue.)
Likewise, no extra downloads at install time.
3. A contrib package which downloads the Flash files from a third-party
server associated with Debian, superficially similar to what
Canonical does with older versions of Flash . (In case this is
any easier than option #1, this would be preferable to option #4.)
4. A contrib package which downloads the Chrome .deb directly from
Google's servers, extracts the Flash files, and puts those in.
Google only makes available the latest version of Chrome---if
version N is out, version $((N - 1)) will 404---which makes this
approach difficult from a release-engineering perspective.
I make this inquiry after having implemented option #4 for Ubuntu in a
Launchpad PPA , the experience of which left me wanting a better approach---
for both distributions.
(Please Cc: me on any replies, as I am not subscribed to this list.)
Daniel Richard G. || skunk@iSKUNK.ORG
My ASCII-art .sig got a bad case of Times New Roman.