Flash 10.2 Found To Be Crashtastic

If you've experienced a lot of crashes when trying to access pages with Flash content recently, and you've been wondering why, take solace in that fact that it's not specifically a Linux problem. Windows users have had the same problem, and it's caused by the latest version of the Flash plugin. Fortunately, it's easy enough to work around.

At time of writing, the Adobe forum is full of reports of the crash, and it seems to affect Windows and Linux versions of the plugin. The situation is slightly annoying because many of us received a pop-up prompt encouraging us to go to an updated version of the plugin that has turned out to be unreliable.

The reports on the Adobe forum indicate that we may be having a slightly easier time of it, as typically, the player just pops up a message indicating that has crashed. In such a case, a page reload should be all that's needed to get things working again. Outside of Linux land, apparently, the faulty plugin regularly brings down the browser, and in some cases, the entire machine. Occasionally, the Linux version can cause browser crashes but I wasn't able to locate any reports of it bringing the whole system down. It might seem surprisingly that a mere browser plugin could cause system instability, but apparently, the the new version addresses hardware acceleration in a different way. There is always going to be a risk of this sort of thing happening when a high level program directly interacts with a low level driver. There have been reports of the problem affecting both Nvidia and ATI chipset equipped machines.

In my own experiments, I was able to provoke the crashing behavior by opening multiple tabs that contained flash content. You could limit the effect by running a flash blocking plugin such as FlashBlock in combination with the the excellent FlashVideoReplacer.

The simplest solution is probably to revert the back to version 10.01 for now. If you installed it manually, you'll have to locate an older version of the installation file. If not, you can usually use your choice of package manager to revert to an earlier version. In the case of Synaptic, the “Force Version...” option is in the “Package” pull down menu option.

Happy Flashing, folks.

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