Adobe drops AIR for Linux due to lack of interest

Adobe drops AIR for Linux due to lack of interest

Summary: Linux's failure as a desktop operating system has prompted Adobe to abandon its direct support for the Linux version of AIR, the Adobe Integrated Runtime, which runs programs such as the BBC's iPlayer and Tweetdeck, a Twitter client. In a blog post today, Adobe's Director of Open Source and Standards said: "we will be focusing on supporting partner implementations and will no longer be releasing our own versions of Adobe AIR and the AIR SDK [Software Development Kit] for desktop Linux".

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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Linux's failure as a desktop operating system has prompted Adobe to abandon its direct support for the Linux version of AIR, the Adobe Integrated Runtime, which runs programs such as the BBC's iPlayer and Tweetdeck, a Twitter client. In a blog post today, Adobe's Director of Open Source and Standards said: "we will be focusing on supporting partner implementations and will no longer be releasing our own versions of Adobe AIR and the AIR SDK [Software Development Kit] for desktop Linux". However, since Adobe AIR has itself failed to make a significant impact on the PC market since it was launched in February 2008, it doesn't look as though many people will miss it.

The blog post by Dave McAllister, Focusing on the next Linux client, says: " with the 2.7 release of AIR, we made a decision to prioritize our resources towards a Linux porting kit for AIR, which our Open Screen Project partners can use to complete implementations of AIR for Linux-based platforms."

McAllister says that "way back in 1999" he'd predicted "a significant market for desktop Linux by 2005. (I was targeting better than Mac OS type numbers, in the 10-15% range.)". However, a dozen years later, Netmarketshare's numbers show Linux falling back under the 1 percent level, while Android (which is Linux-based) and Apple's proprietary iOS are showing rapid growth.

"Obviously I was wrong," he says. "So we, Adobe, also need to shift with the market."

A post by Adobe's AIR and Flash Player team holds out some hope for Linux users. It says:

"To support the variety of Linux-based platforms across PCs and devices, we are prioritizing a Linux porting kit for AIR (including source code), which Open Screen Project (OSP) partners can use to complete implementations of AIR for Linux-based platforms on PCs, mobile devices, TVs and TV-connected devices. We will no longer be releasing our own versions of Adobe AIR and the AIR SDK for desktop Linux, but expect that one or more of our partners will do so. The last Adobe release of AIR for desktop Linux is AIR 2.6. By focusing on the porting kit and support of partner implementations, we expect to provide broader support for AIR across Linux-based PCs and devices, whereas our own desktop Linux releases have accounted for less than 0.5% of lifetime AIR downloads."

Adobe has also published a FAQ (PDF) to provide further information.

AIR was launched to provide browserless "Rich Internet Applications" (RIAs) written using Flash, ActionScript and/or HTML/Ajax, with the main appeal being that these would be cross-platform, running on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Adobe managed to get AIR installed by bundling it with Adobe Reader, but how much it has been used is open to debate. At the time of writing, the top two Featured Offerings in the Adobe AIR Marketplace were posted on September 27 and October 22 last year, which doesn't suggest there's a lot of vibrant activity.

@jackschofield

Topic: Tech Industry

Jack Schofield

About Jack Schofield

Jack Schofield spent the 1970s editing photography magazines before becoming editor of an early UK computer magazine, Practical Computing. In 1983, he started writing a weekly computer column for the Guardian, and joined the staff to launch the newspaper's weekly computer supplement in 1985. This section launched the Guardian’s first website and, in 2001, its first real blog. When the printed section was dropped after 25 years and a couple of reincarnations, he felt it was a time for a change....

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23 comments
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  • "Linux's failure as a desktop operating system..."

    Rattle that cage, Jack, rattle that cage!
    Jake Rayson
  • At last.
    Now please stop creating linux flash versions and get out of the internet Adobe.

    1% is not enough? Compared to other OSes, linux is mostly used by developers. The market share might not be very impressive, but by not supporting linux you are dropping a bunch of potential developers.

    I hope Steve drops support for flash entirely on his platform.
    anonymous
  • "Linux's failure as a desktop operating system has prompted Adobe to abandon its direct support for the Linux version of AIR"

    This should read as,

    Adobe's failure to spark interest among Linux users has prompted the abandonment of support for the Linux version of AIR ;-)
    incalizondo
  • there's going to be about 4 really angry people out there
    anonymous
  • The only AIR app I've ever used is Tweetdeck. And there's a version of it that runs inside Google Chrome just as well, so I won't miss AIR.
    BrownieBoy-4ea41
  • I had a Linux laptop on which I ran Tweetdeck via Air, and it sort of worked. Crucially, it didn't work 100 percent.

    What's important to note here, and what comes through very strongly in the post linked to above, is that Linux's mass-market appeal lies in mobile, as Android (yes, I know - argue away about Google's openness) has proven. That's not a slight on Linux in any way, as mobile is where it's at, but it does say where desktop Linux sits at this particular moment.
    David Meyer
  • Since market share appears to be the the only valid measure of success or failure, should we not all start referring to Windows Phone 7 as "that failed mobile o/s" for here on in?
    BrownieBoy-4ea41
  • Brownie Boy

    If Windows Phone 7 has the same marketshare as Linux after being on the market for 18 or so years, just like Linux has, then yes WP7 will then be rightly considered to be a failure. But since it is not even 1 year old, it needs more time before it relevant success or failure can be determined.
    dechah
  • @dechah,

    One might argue that being on the market for 18 years, whatever the market share, is some kind of a success! And because of its open source nature, it will still be around 18 years from *now*.

    I'm afraid that WP7 won't get that kind of time to prove itself. 18 *months* would be nearer the mark.
    BrownieBoy-4ea41
  • Yeah, because the millions of linux users out there don't really need adobe air. They cringe enough seeing flash used on the web. Overall in the next several years the use of both flash and adobe will have shrunk extremely low. They are not known as the great way to do things anymore and our technology has advanced beyond them. Adobe would see a completely different site if they released a version of photoshop for linux.
    anonymous
  • Only thing that fails here is the article writer
    anonymous
  • Having used various Linux distro for years and also been a fan of Adobe products, with excitement I gave AIR a try in Linux as soon as it came out - but it was a lot to do about nothing. There was nothing in the AIR market that was of any interest or use. It is as shame that Abobe is blaming their business failure on Linux market share. I agree with James Harris comment relative to photoshop. If Adobe released photoshop; and I also believe Acrobat, in a Linux version they would see a much different result. The key is if a company has a good product. If Adobe would release things that people value in Linux then it would be adopted by the Linux community. Nothing breeds acclaim like quality.
    glr-e34c6
  • Linux haven't failed as desktop system but to be popular.
    anonymous
  • in economics, they use the term "free entry and exit to the marketplace". this is an example of technology deemed unnecessary or even unacceptable to the consumer. it's merely market efficiency doing what comes naturally.
    brutallyfrank
  • I wouldn't be surprised to see AIR disappear completely. It didn't take off, and we don't install it at all in corporate environments (even on Windows) because we already deal with enough security updates with Flash and others as it is. It's just not worth it.

    Unfortunately Microsoft has succeeded at their game of vendor lock-in so Windows on desktops will be the norm for quite some time, and that's obviously where the focus on proprietary and user-controlling software is at.
    Chris_Clay
  • I hope you get to liking Windows phone 7 OS since That's what Windows 8 looks like. Seems we are all to start using touch screen pc's and leave behind the mouse and keyboard now.
    adamtdavis@...
  • @apexwm
    > Unfortunately Microsoft has succeeded at their game of vendor lock-in so
    > Windows on desktops will be the norm for quite some time

    Why does vendor lock-in matter when anybody can download a copy of Linux and install it for nothing? (Or do it from a cover magazine disc.)

    In any case, your excuse falls rather flat because there is no vendor lock-in on desktops (or laptops or servers). Indeed, the US government anti-trust court case against Microsoft absolutely prevents there being any vendor lock in, among other things. (The case resulted in strict pricing rules and hundreds of US government staff monitoring Microsoft on a daily basis, which included reading all Micosoft internal and external emails.)

    In fact, every rational person recognises that it is very easy to set up a company selling non-Windows desktops, and one company that sells Unix-based non-Windows desktops has more than $50 billion in the bank! Obviously it doesn't sell Linux-based non-Windows desktops, but there's nothing to stop anyone else doing that, including you.

    Do you seriously think that hundreds of millions of Americans are passing up an easy chance to make money? Is this a failure of American capitalism? What's special about Linux that means there's a demand nobody is willing to supply?

    @Alisaunder

    > Seems we are all to start using touch screen pc's and leave behind
    > the mouse and keyboard now.

    Not sure if you're joking, but the mouse and keyboard still work fine in Windows 8, as does Office 2010. Indeed, I don't think many people will try to operate that without a mouse and keyboard....
    Jack Schofield
  • @Jack,

    > Why does vendor lock-in matter when anybody can download a
    > copy of Linux and install it for nothing? (Or do it from a cover magazine
    > disc.)
    Sure. All they have to do is wipe their existing Windows install, including, very likely, all their existing data. Either that or they partition up their hard drive to set up a dual-boot. "Here's the CD, granny. Off you go!"

    > The US government anti-trust court case against Microsoft absolutely prevents
    > there being any vendor lock in, among other things. (The case resulted in strict
    > pricing rules..
    The U.S. Govt's supervision does nothing to stop MS using its Windows pricing to punish OEMs that don't do its bidding. Try selling a Windows netbook that has more than 1 Gig of RAM or bigger than an 11.1 inch screen, and you'll quickly find this out.
    http://www.engadget.com/2009/05/22/microsoft-publishes-maximum-windows-7-netbooks-specs/
    BrownieBoy-4ea41
  • "Why does vendor lock-in matter when anybody can download a copy of Linux and install it for nothing? (Or do it from a cover magazine disc.)"

    My point was that Microsoft has succeeded in writing software that is tightly integrated with itself, but not compatible with other platforms, thus keeping customers on their Windows platform for many years, which is one reason why we still see a high percentage of Windows desktops today.

    "In any case, your excuse falls rather flat because there is no vendor lock-in on desktops (or laptops or servers). Indeed, the US government anti-trust court case against Microsoft absolutely prevents there being any vendor lock in, among other things. (The case resulted in strict pricing rules and hundreds of US government staff monitoring Microsoft on a daily basis, which included reading all Micosoft internal and external emails.)"

    I would have to disagree from a software perspective, as there are still issues even today. An example I ran into the other day was an incompatibility of Sharepoint 2007 with Firefox 4.0. Users using Firefox while trying to edit a document in Sharepoint will get an error "Edit Document requires a Windows Sharepoint Services-compatible application and Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or greater". Sure, Microsoft could write Sharepoint so that it is cross-browser compatible, but they don't. Obviously, to force users of Sharepoint services to use their IE browser on the desktops as well.

    "In fact, every rational person recognises that it is very easy to set up a company selling non-Windows desktops, and one company that sells Unix-based non-Windows desktops has more than $50 billion in the bank! Obviously it doesn't sell Linux-based non-Windows desktops, but there's nothing to stop anyone else doing that, including you."

    Apple has done this, that's true. But their market share only spiked when Vista was out and failed. This gave users a purpose and reason to look to other vendors. And has Microsoft attempted to be more compatible with OS X? I guess dropping Services for Mac in Windows Server is a good indication they don't have any plans to.

    In theory this could be true, but since Microsoft customers are locked in to the Microsoft platforms, it's very hard to introduce other platforms. Some have migrated, but most do not want to invest the resources. Some do not recognize the hidden expenses of staying in Microsoft platforms, or long term savings by migrating to non-Microsoft platforms.
    Chris_Clay
  • Adobe had it's long history of failures in porting or maintaining their products. Flash on linux is plagued with issues, 64-bit versions were vaporware, and so on. Remember that in the early days of Ipad/Iphone Apple agreed with Adobe to have a port of Flash Player on their platform and it did not happen.
    Most likely Adobe is pointing the fingers at the Linux adoption to mask their own incapacity.
    clausundercover