Ubuntu maker System76 ditches Flash because “security, security, security”

System76, a PC maker that ships systems with Linux distribution Ubuntu, has abandoned pre-installed Flash Player because of security concerns.

Though System76 may be a minor player in the PC hardware business, it’s yet another voice in the tech industry calling for the end of Flash Player in the wake of three zero-day security flaws in the software.

Adobe has now released patches for all the bugs but they still left Windows, Mac and Linux users exposed for several days.

“For security reasons, we strongly recommend that all our customers purge Flash from their systems,” it said, announcing the decision to farewell Flash Player from its next Ubuntu build.

The move follows Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos tweeting last week that Flash on the desktop should be condemned to death after details of three un-patched flaws emerged in files leaked from Italian surveillance software vendor Hacking Team.

“It is time for Adobe to announce the end-of-life date for Flash and to ask the browsers to set killbits on the same day,” aid Stamos.

But getting rid of Flash might not be so easy. Countering suggestions that developers would drag their heels to an end-of-life for ubiquitously installed Flash, Stamos added: “Nobody takes the time to rewrite their tools and upgrade to HTML5 because they expect Flash4Eva. Need a date to drive it.”

Mozilla fanned the flames this week when it announced it would disable all current versions of Flash in Firefox until Adobe had released patches for them.

Adobe released fixes for the flaws on Tuesday, as swift as any company can be expect to. But how fast Adobe can release a patch may not matter with a more open HTML5 having stepped up to replace its capabilities on mobile and desktop browsers. That has come despite Adobe’s efforts to make its platform more secure and easier for end-users to keep up-to-date.

Stamos became yet another high profile voice in the tech industry to condemn Flash after Apple founder Steve Jobs in 2010 explained why the company barred Flash on iOS devices.

“We don’t want to reduce the reliability and security of our iPhones, iPods and iPads by adding Flash,” said Jobs, noting that Flash was the top cause of crashes on Mac desktop systems.

System76 has had a license with Adobe to pre-install Flash Player with Ubuntu on its hardware since 2007, noting in a blog post on Wednesday that it was once “the out-of-the-box web experience that consumers had come to expect”.

“So from 2007 till today, we’ve pre-installed Flash in our golden images (under the above mentioned license grant from Adobe). But starting tomorrow, we wont be.”

It’s two reasons?

The first: “Flash isn’t really needed to enjoy the ‘full web experience’.”

The second: “Security, security, security.”

This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.

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