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.