On the Lambda

Programming, Technology, and Systems Administration

On the Lambda

Using Flash in the Browser post-2021

January 21st, 2021 · No Comments · IT News, networking, security, Windows

Let’s get this out of the way: Flash is bad, okay? If you have another way to do something — any way at all — you should use it.

Some of us don’t have a choice. Right now I need to support no fewer than three different embedded systems using Flash: a Wi-Fi controller, a security camera deployment, and an older HP LJ 40xx series printer. Any one of these would cost hundreds to thousands to replace, not to mention the man-hours. All three meant it was a better bet for me to find a way to extend my access to Flash for a little longer.

I found two options.

First is in a post by user crazyhammer on the Extreme Networks forums. He provides instructions on preserving the Flash client installed with Windows. And it works! Unfortunately it’s (ugh) Internet Explorer only. That got me most of the way, but it’s not my preferred option. Also, my security cameras absolutely refuse to talk to IE.

So I present you option two: my method to run Flash in a variant of Google Chrome in the Year of Our Lord 2021.

To start, you need a working copy Flash from the before-times as a donor. I can’t provide this — I don’t have the rights. Over time these will get harder to find, but for the moment they do exist. Especially if you’re in a business environment, your IT service probably has an old PC somewhere that hasn’t started up in a while. For my donor, I pulled the drive and put it in a cradle connected to another computer, to be sure Chrome’s auto-update wouldn’t nuke my Flash plugin as soon as I started the machine.

I found the Flash plugin files at the following location in the guest drive:

C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Google\Chrome\User Data\PepperFlash

Where “C:” is the guest drive letter. Copy the entire contents of this folder. One extra warning: Chrome claimed to include Flash out of the box. What actually happened was it downloaded the plugin the first time you needed it. A virgin machine might not have the Flash plugin you need. Instead, look for something that was used for a while and retired.

Now we need a version of Chrome that will accept this plugin. Thankfully, we have PortableApps to the rescue. Specifically, I used the 32-bit version of Chrome 79. I chose 32-bit because my donor plugin also came from a 32-bit machine. Most people reading this can and should choose a 64-bit version. Newer versions of Chrome probably also work, but I KNOW version 79 was okay and didn’t want to waste time testing.

One you install your preferred Portable Chrome edition, take the PepperFlash files we found earlier and put them in the Data\Profile\PepperFlash folder in your new installation.

At this point you should be good to go, with three important caveats: One, this version of Chrome will still block Flash by default; the difference it also still includes the settings to let you unblock it. Two, the Flash plug-in will likely show a banner that it’s out of date. That’s okay. The banner includes a button to let you run the content anyway. Third, both the plug-in and browser will not update or patch for any security issues; you really shouldn’t use them any longer than you need to finish retiring old systems.

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