Why Adobe is right to abandon Linux, why it's no big deal, and why this could be bad for Mozilla

Why Adobe is right to abandon Linux, why it's no big deal, and why this could be bad for Mozilla

Summary: By the time the Flash plug-in is longer supported by Adobe, Flash won't matter any more.

SHARE:

Adobe has essentially abandoned Linux, with the company's latest roadmap barely mentioning the platform. But ultimately, Adobe is right to ditch Linux, and while this could be a blow to Mozilla's Firefox browser, overall it's not really a big deal.

OK, so why was Adobe right to abandon Linux?

Well, the usage share figures for Linux say it all really. Take this from NetMarketShare:

Image credit: NetMarketShare

That chart there is a little optimistic in saying that Linux has a market share of 2 percent. In fact, it's 1.56 percent. You might be able to find a data source that gives Linux a better market share, but it's not going to be much better. In terms of current usage, and growth, Linux is dead in the water. Outside of the kernel forming the foundation for Android (that platform is going places) and server use, Linux is a fringe platform, and it's hard for a company like Adobe to justify continuing to support the platform.

Note: Also, as of Adobe AIR 3, that platform is also dead as far as Linux is concerned.

It's hard to spin 1 percent as anything other than 1 percent.

But why is it not a big deal?

But Flash isn't vanishing from Linux completely. Following the Flash Player 11.2  release for Linux, the only way to get on-going Flash support will be via the Google Chrome browser. Flash Player 11.2 will continue to see security updates for five years, but the only platform that will see new versions that bring new features and developments is Chrome.

Yes, I did say five years. The Adobe Flash plug-in will be supported by Adobe for five years, but in web years that's a very long time indeed. While it does mean that users won't be able to make use of any new Flash features, it does mean that they'll still be able to make use of Flash on the web. And when support for the release expires in 2017, I doubt that anyone will be that bothered by it because we will have all moved on to a web powered by HTML 5.

Bottom line, it's hard to get worked up about this given that Linux will still support Flash for the foreseeable future. 11.2 will offer basic support, and anyone wanting the latest and greatest can jump over to Google Chrome.

So why might this be bad for Firefox?

It's not so much users I see getting caught up in the crossfire here over Flash, it's Mozilla. For years Firefox has enjoyed pride of place as the browser of choice for most Linux distros. This gave the browser a foothold among the greybeards, who in turn became evangelists for the web platform.

But now there's a new kid of the block, and it has an ace up its sleeve. If Google Chrome is the only browser that can deliver the latest Flash experience to Linux, then I can see the browser making an appearance. maybe initially it will be installed alongside Firefox, but I could see the day when Chrome becomes the new Linux darling.

This a big deal for Firefox because the browser is already in rapid decline and it's giving ground to Google Chrome:

Image credit: NetMarketShare

Linux isn't itself a huge market, it's a segment that's been loyal to Mozilla and Firefox, but given how bad things have gone for Firefox since Chrome appeared on the scene, being sidelined in Linux could be the last straw.

So all you Linux users can stop panicking!

Topics: Enterprise Software, Browser, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

98 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Why Adobe is right to abandon Linux, why it's no big deal, and why this could be bad for Mozilla

    I keep trying Chrome, but I just can't get on with it.

    As to Flash, the first thing I do in Safari, Chrome and Firefox is install a Flash Blocker anyway.

    On the other hand, OS X only has 6% of the market... How long until the only way to get Flash on OS X is in Chrome? ;-)
    wright_is
    • RE: Why Adobe is right to abandon Linux, why it's no big deal, and why this could be bad for Mozilla

      @wright_is I agree, I've tried Chrome and just can't use it....it annoys me.
      DreyerSmit
      • RE: Why Adobe is right to abandon Linux, why it's no big deal, and why this could be bad for Mozilla

        @DreyerSmit Chrome is like a browser made by someone who never saw a browser, or something?
        paulfx1
      • I use GNU/Linux, and Chrome is HORRIBLY GAY!

        I use GNU/Linux, and Chrome is HORRIBLY GAY!

        I would NEVER, EVER run Gooberment Mail or Gooberment Browser on any of my machines.

        Google chrome is just downright faggoty.
        DebianIsKing
    • RE: Why Adobe is right to abandon Linux, why it's no big deal, and why this could be bad for Mozilla

      @wright_is
      First thing I do is install a flash blocker.
      Same here.
      As far as Chrome, it works for me. 90% of the sites I go to.
      (even on most MS support sites I frequent)
      radu.m
      • Chrome works

        Oh, it works, just not how I want it to... The UI isn't as good as Firefox.
        wright_is
    • Chrome... and Apple

      I had a nightmare experience with Chrome, thanks to loaning a laptop to a bilingual friend. She set the thing to default in Thai. Do you think I could change it back? Not a chance - all the menu was in Thai, and I was guessing which menu command was the language changer. In the end it was easier to remove and re-install it.

      Sad thing is - she also used my iPad, and I had the EXACT same fault. Unreadable settings! I had to borrow another iPad, find the right tab, memorise the tab location, then go back to mine and change it.

      [Sigh] the concept of a country flag on the international settings tab is so logical - and so easily forgotten by those who ASSUME everything will readable by the end user.

      Acid test: Set your product to Arabic or Chinese, then hand it to your average citizen - can they change it back?
      alan_r_cam
    • Curse my dyslexia

      Wake me up when the headline reads "Why Mozilla is right to abandon Adobe Flash".
      kludd
      • Argeed

        Apparently the Windows goober who wrote this article has never heard of HTML5
        DebianIsKing
    • chrome

      It is aggravating. I want to enable the menu bar so I can find the options I want to change. I'll stick with FF
      mlashinsky@...
  • RE: Why Adobe is right to abandon Linux, why it's no big deal, and why this could be bad for Mozilla

    @The Linux Geek
    Funny. I've been hearing this for the last 10 years.
    Thanks, you just made my day.
    TheCyberKnight
    • RE: Why Adobe is right to abandon Linux, why it's no big deal, and why this could be bad for Mozilla

      @TheCyberKnight

      What you are not taking into consideration is that those Linux figures are heavily skewed, based on probably on "bought" PC installs. Linux comprises a lot more than just <2% of the population.

      The majority of smartphones run on Linux. Linux itself is seeing a much larger conversion rate than even a year ago with Linux Mint and Ubuntu getting more and more Windows users using it.

      No, this is a very shortsighted move on Adobe's part, one of the many in recent years. With W3C's HTML5 Canvas adoption of open-licensed video drivers on the horizon and Apple and many other companies pushing for its use over Flash, Adobe can't afford to lose a free and very large core of developers which make tools that the public at large on all OS's use. Once they convert them to using Canvas, it will be done.
      Rexibit
    • RE: Why Adobe is right to abandon Linux, why it's no big deal, and why this could be bad for Mozilla

      @Rexibit

      Although the article doesn't specifically mention it, the figures are about desktop use, which is also the subject of my comment.

      I won't discuss further your comment about phones since, at the level you present it, you are right. For the Windows migration, it always happened, will continue but you forget to mention that migrations in the other way do exist even though, for advocates, it is better to keep this quiet.

      For HTML5 slowly pushing Flash out of the battle arena, it is true and a lot of people just can't wait for the final blow. Did you ever consider that Adobe may, on the contrary, foresee this day coming and is already putting its efforts elsewhere? Therefore, the Linux community support simply becomes as irrelevant as its current desktop market share.
      TheCyberKnight
    • See, that's the problem right there

      " I've been hearing this for the last 10 years."

      See, you're looking *back*. Linux is the platform of the *future*. :)
      kludd
  • RE: Why Adobe is right to abandon Linux, why it's no big deal, and why this could be bad for Mozilla

    @The Linux Geek

    [i]Linux is the platform of the future ...[/i]

    Lol nice one, almost had me believing it for a second.
    dave95.
    • The other option is ...

      .. we as robots unable to figure how a OS works, and consuming what our masters want us to.
      orendon
    • psst

      90% of the population are idiots, GNU/Linux will never be the "mainstream" os due to this simple fact. The minority of desktop/workstations running on pcs are being used by people, generally, whom are smarter than you and everyone else running windows.

      How bout them apples?
      DebianIsKing
  • RE: Why Adobe is right to abandon Linux, why it's no big deal, and why this could be bad for Mozilla

    @The Linux Geek So 2012 is [i]finally[/i] the year of desktop Linux? HOW many years have you been saying this and yet here we are again with the Microsoft and Apple conspiracy theories.

    It looks like you have way too much time at the fry station - I'll put a word in with you McManager and have him add floor sweeping and taking the trash out to your job...
    athynz
    • RE: Why Adobe is right to abandon Linux, why it's no big deal, and why this could be bad for Mozilla

      @Pete "athynz" Athens

      If you can't understand how great Ubuntu and Fedora (and other Linux based distributions) are now (and have been for at least two last years) then it only shows how ignorant you are in IT.

      But in this case you should not be commenting on an IT blog because clearly you have no idea about computers.
      karolbe
  • RE: Why Adobe is right to abandon Linux, why it's no big deal, and why this could be bad for Mozilla

    @The Linux Geek Linux may be the platform of the future, who knows? We must all live in the present though. I doubt Apple or Microsoft care very much about Linux. Certainly not on the desktop.
    paulfx1