Sunday, July 22, 2012

Absolving Myself from Flash, Totally.

I don't know whether this is due to a newly-introduced bug, or whether it is a managerial decision to trick unsuspecting users, but Adobe's Flash Preferences in the System Preferences panel for Adobe Flash Player 11.3 have stopped offering an honest depiction of current software settings, particularly where privacy settings are concerned. For example, I select to block the use of the built-in camera and for sites to stash their preferences to my system, and close the window.

You'd think that the system preferences will be saved, but when you re-open your Flash preferences again, the settings are not as how you left them. The preferences panel insists that you allow the use of your system's camera and hard disk space again, despite what you told it last.

Flash does not make my system behave very well in this regard, so the only recourse I have now is to not use Flash at all and strip it right out of my system.

To do this, the best way is to use Apple's pkgutil(1) as root, and look for the package names:

  • com.adobe.pkg.FlashPlayer
  • com.apple.pkg.FlashUpdateTool

and tell pkgutil to unlink them (delete the corresponding files from your filesystem). Then, perform the following in your user accounts directory:

% sudo find /Users -name "*[F,f]lash" -ls

and find out what files in your Caches and Preferences folders are good candidates for removal. When you are happy that all is removed, you can issue the final stage of the kill:

% sudo pkgutil --forget <packagename>

I don't use Flash anymore. The sloppy and/or deceitful operation of Flash's preferences as of version 11.3 onwards is why.

The above instructions are for Adobe Flash Player 11.3 on Mac OS X Snow Leopard and Lion. For older versions of Adobe Flash Player on older versions of Mac OS X, try looking into your /Library/Receipts directory for the package Adobe Flash Player.pkg and investigating its Archive.bom file using lsbom(1).

In OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, the --unlink option to the pkgutil(1) command has disappeared, and appears to result in nothing when applied to specified packages. Producing help on the command via --help also shows that the option has indeed been removed. Unfortunately, as a result of this option disappearing, the careful use of the rm(1) command will have to ensue instead.

Article last updated on 28th July: researched and corrected as to what version of Flash started to exhibit the behaviour described; added notes about the absence of the --unlink option in OS X 10.8.


—tonza

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