Adobe Flash and Firefox 68+ in Gentoo Linux

Though many sites have abandoned Adobe Flash in favour of HTML5 these days, there are still some legacy applications (e.g. older versions of VMWare’s vSphere web client) that depend on it. Recent versions of Firefox in Linux (68+) started failing to load Flash content for me, and it took some digging to find out why. First off, I noticed that the content wouldn’t load even on Adobe’s Flash test page. Second off, I found that the plugin wasn’t listed in Firefox’s about:plugins page.

So, I realised that the problem was due to the Adobe Flash plugin not integrating properly with Firefox. I use Gentoo Linux, so these instructions may not directly apply to other distributions, but I would imagine that the directory structures are at least similar. To start, I made sure that I had installed the www-plugins/adobe-flash ebuild with the ‘npapi’ USE flag enabled:

$ eix adobe-flash
[I] www-plugins/adobe-flash
     Available versions:  (22)^ms
       {+nsplugin +ppapi ABI_MIPS="n32 n64 o32" ABI_RISCV="lp64 lp64d" ABI_S390="32 64" ABI_X86="32 64 x32"}
     Installed versions:^ms(03:13:05 22/08/19)(nsplugin -ppapi ABI_MIPS="-n32 -n64 -o32" ABI_RISCV="-lp64 -lp64d" ABI_S390="-32 -64" ABI_X86="64 -32 -x32")
     Description:         Adobe Flash Player

That ebuild installs the (shared object) in the /usr/lib64/nsbrowser/plugins/ directory by default.

However, through some digging, I found that Firefox 68+ was looking in another directory for the plugin (in my particular situation, that directory was /usr/lib64/mozilla/plugins/, which actually didn’t exist on my system). Seeing as the target directory didn’t exist, I had to firstly create it, and then I decided to symlink the shared object there so that future updates to the www-plugins/adobe-flash package would work without any further manual intervention:

mkdir -p /usr/lib64/mozilla/plugins/
cd $_
ln -s /usr/lib64/nsbrowser/plugins/ .

After restarting Firefox, the Adobe Flash test page started working as did other sites that use Flash. So, though your particular Linux distribution, version of Firefox, and version of Adobe Flash may require the use of different directories than the ones I referenced above, I hope that these instructions can help you troubleshoot the problem with Adobe Flash not showing in the Firefox about:plugins page.

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