Open Source

Flash for the people, by the people

Open-source community to roll its own Flash player under the GPL.
Open-source community to roll its own Flash player under the GPL.

Though Adobe has long made the Flash player available as a free download for a number of platforms including Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, a group of developers has decided to work on an open-source implementation called GNU Gnash.

The open-source version is slated to be released under the GNU GPL2 licence. While anyone is free to use the player, only other free software adhering to the GPL2 licence will be able to use the source code in other projects, according to maintainer Rob Savoye. He also claims the code hasn't been reverse-engineered, but instead developed from the ground up to support Flash version 7, atop GameSWF, an open-source library for handling Flash files.

Flash, developed by Macromedia and now owned by Adobe, is one of the most popular browser plug-ins around. The vector-based format is used heavily on the Internet, and Flash animations adorn countless Web sites.

The open-source community has attempted a number of high-profile Flash projects in the past, but most have fizzled due to a lack of long-term interest and commitment from the developers. The GPL licence system is currently under review by the Free Software Foundation, and the group has indicated that Gnash is one of six high-priority projects under the scheme. There's currently no firm release date.