Adobe abandons Linux

Adobe abandons Linux

Summary: Adobe has announced its future plans for Flash and AIR and Linux isn't part of them. Flash will still, however, be available to Linux desktop users who use Google's Chrome Web browser.


Get Flash Player... unless you're running Linux.

Get Adobe Flash Player... unless you're running Linux.

There was a time when I hoped that Adobe would port more of their applications to the Linux desktop. Those hopes have been dashed. Adobe has announced their roadmap for Adobe Flash and AIR and Linux is barely on it.

Adobe Flash Player 11.2 which is targeted for release in the first quarter of 2012 will be the last native version for Linux. This release include the following features:

  • Mouse-lock support
  • Right and middle mouse-click support
  • Context menu disabling
  • Support for more hardware accelerated video cards (from January 2008) in order to expand availability of hardware-accelerated content.
  • New Throttle event API (dispatches event when Flash Player throttles, pauses, or resumes content)
  • Multi-threaded video decoding pipeline on the desktop which improves overall performance of video on all desktop platforms

After that version comes out sometime soon that will be the end of the road for direct Linux Flash Player support. Thereafter, the Flash Player browser plug-in for Linux will only be available via a "Pepper" implementation of Flash Player for all x86/64 platforms supported by the Google Chrome browser. Google will begin distributing this new Pepper-based Flash Player as part of Chrome on all platforms, including Linux, later this year.

Pepper is the name for the Pepper Plug-in Application Programming Interface (PPAPI). PPAPI is a cross-platform API for plug-ins for Web browsers. Pepper is currently an experimental feature of Chromium and Google Chrome. According to Adobe, "For Flash Player releases after 11.2, the Flash Player browser plug-in for Linux will only be available via the 'Pepper' API as part of the Google Chrome browser distribution and will no longer be available as a direct download from Adobe."

This has been coming for a while Adobe abandoned Flash for 64-bit Linux back in 2010. Eventually, with the rise of HTML5 video, we won't need Flash support, but today many sites still offer video only in the Flash format.

Flash has become only too well known recently for security holes. Fortunately for Linux users, Adobe says it will continue to provide security updates to non-Pepper distributions of Flash Player 11.2 on Linux for five years from its release.

Adobe will also continue to support browsers using non-Pepper plug-in APIs for Flash on platforms other than Linux. This indicates that say Firefox users on Windows or Mac OS X who don't want to download the full Adobe Flash Player will still be able to use Flash within their browsers. Firefox Linux users, however, will not be able to use the up-to-date versions of Flash with Firefox, Opera, or other Web browsers.

Adobe, however, also states that it will be providing a debug player implementation of the Flash Player browser plug-in on Linux." Adobe isn't saying, yet, how this will be distributed.

As for Adobe AIR, it's now officially dead. This has also been coming for a while Adobe stopped releasing new versions of AIR on Linux back on June 14 2011. The sadly out of date Air 2.6 is still available for Linux, but "Adobe has discontinued support for Adobe AIR for Linux operating systems."

In a technical whitepaper, the company also states that "Adobe will not be contributing the AIR for Linux SDK, LCDS, or LCCS to Apache." So I wouldn't hold out any real hope for an open-sourced version of AIR. If you're fond of AIR-based applications like the twhirl social network client, it's long past time to look for alternatives. Eventually, they won't work on Linux's out of date AIR.

Adobe hasn't announced its Linux plans for Adobe Reader X, the latest version of the Acrobat PDF reader. However, Linux is not listed as an Acrobat X supported platform at this time. Adobe Reader 9.4.7 is the latest available version for Linux. That said, the Adobe PDF Library software development kit (SDK) X, which works with Acrobat X, does include support for 64-bit Linux. So, we may yet see Acrobat X for Linux.

What all this means for Linux desktop users is that unless you're using Chrome for your Web browser, you can pretty much forget about keeping up-to-date Adobe software. There are many open-source Flash projects and several players. The best of the Flash players, in my experience, is GNU Gnash. For PDFs, Chrome comes with a built-in PDF reader. For a standalone Linux reader for PDF, and many other document formats, I recommend KDE's Okular.

Related Stories:

Mint's Cinnamon: The Future of the Linux Desktop? (Review)

Beyond the desktop: Ubuntu Linux's new Head-Up Display

Flash is dead. Long live HTML5.

Adobe Flash Player XSS flaw under 'active attack'

Coming to Firefox: Flash Player in a sandbox

Topics: Linux, Browser, Enterprise Software, 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.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Why would Adobe want to abandon

    such a lucrative market?
    William Farrel
    • RE: Adobe abandons Linux

      @William Farrel ...and thus begins the end of Adobe Flash or Adobe as a web standard. RIP
      • RE: Adobe abandons Linux


        Flash hasn't been a standard for a while.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • Adobe is a company, not a standard

        @Socratesfoot and no, I don't think there is any real fear of them disappearing: not unless GIMP, Scribus, and Inkscape (especially Inkscape) take some pretty massive leaps forward.
      • RE: Adobe abandons Linux

        @Michael Alan Goff : Not a standard. So I guess Flash isn't on any of your computers/VMs? Ya. Right. Majority of sites with videos require it. So do many other sites.
      • RE: Adobe abandons Linux

        Yep. They fight hard to get Flash on iOS even though it is crap. Their argument is that it is virtually a web standard but they decide where it gets ported and they just throw out all of Linux on a whim. Web standard...pfffft!
      • Which web are you using?

        @Gisabun "Majority of sites with videos require it."

        This isn't 2007. A very small minority of video sites require Flash these days.
      • Adobe sees the writing on the wall

        @global.philosopher Flash was, up until several years ago, a de facto web standard. But with iOS owning so much of the mobile space, particularly the tablet space, and with no possibility of Flash ever ever ever getting onto iOS, and with mobile computing being the future of personal computing, Adobe rightly abandoned Flash on mobile platforms.<br><br>They are rightly abandoning Linux and will soon abandon (or at least severely marginalize) Flash plug-in development on Windows. In the long run, Adobe will be much better served focusing on Flash as a mobile app development environment.
    • RE: Adobe abandons Linux

      @William Farrel <br>
      Flash is a very lucrative market for criminals.
      • RE: Adobe abandons Linux

        Yes, all Linux users are criminals... you caught us. /sarcasm
        Michael Alan Goff
      • RE: Adobe abandons Linux


        So then that Linksys or Netgear router, the Pogoplug, or the Android phone that we may use is all devices used by criminals. Or maybe the companies who made/designed them are doing so with criminal intent?

        (The point here is that they all run linux or some derivative of it)
      • RE: Adobe abandons Linux

        [i]Yes, all Linux users are criminals... you caught us. /sarcasm[/i]

        What do you mean "us"? You don't use it.
      • I did not see where daikon claimed that criminals use Linux

        or that Linux users are criminals.

        He merely stated that [i]Flash is a very lucrative market for criminals[/i]. Even if he made the claim that Linux was, I believe he meant in the sense that Flash has bugs that criminals can exploit.

        Yes, if a Linksys router running Linux is easilly compromised, then criminals will exploit it, hence it is a lucrative market for them.
        Tim Cook
      • Actually, he edited his post.

        @Mister Spock

        Initially he just put "It is" when the original post was one that was making fun of the marketshare of Linux.
        Michael Alan Goff
    • RE: Adobe abandons Linux

      @William Farrel : Lucrative? Adobe makes nothing from Linux and at Under 1.2% of the OS marketshare [and a good chunk of that are servers] I guess they feel they don't need Linux. That and the OS is so fractured with too many distros.
      • Funny With It So "Fractured" That Flash Ran on Every Distribution

        You know, it's funny that with Linux being so supposedly "fractured" that there was just one version of Flash for Linux and yet it was available on all the different x86/amd64 distributions.
      • RE: Adobe abandons Linux

        @Gisabun - Get your numbers straightened out. Linux has about 1 percent of the DESKTOP marketshare, but they have more than 60 percent of the Server OS share (and that's according to Steve Balmer). Finally, Linux holds over 90 percent of the supercomputer marketshare.

        terry flores
      • RE: Adobe abandons Linux

        @Gisabun "but they have more than 60 percent of the Server OS share (and that's according to Steve Balmer). Finally, Linux holds over 90 percent of the supercomputer marketshare. "

        You read it wrong they have 60% of webservers, at the rate those servers get compromised not sure they want to brag about that.

        The supercomputer side, that is not a standard Linux distro, and I am sure Adobe is not worried if you are running flash on a super computer.
      • RE: Adobe abandons Linux

        @ceward_z<br>Actually I would use the marketshare numbers related to sites compromised.<br><br>378+ million sites and what a hand full of compromised sites. Sounds like a nice percentage to me. Even with the news of these compromised sites 10+ million more sites in the last month.
      • Linux? Linux who?

        @terry flores

        90% of the supercomputer market? You've got a Cray? Wow.

        I know you Linux people are as bad as the Apple people, but face it: no one outside forums like this even knows what Linux is. Mention it to someone and you may as well be talking about Star Trek. No need to get angry about it, it is what it is.

        And since flash is installed on 95% to 98% of PCs (depending who you ask), it seems a little dishonest to say it's 'dead'. Seems like it'll be around at least until the end of next week. Maybe longer.

        Given that Unix dates back over 40 years, you'd think if it were going to take the world by storm it would have happened already. The most popular Unix derivative is MacOS, and people don't buy Macs because they run MacOS. They buy them because they're pretty, and strongly marketed. People also still buy Fiats. So some people will buy anything.

        The Linux world is too provincial. There are eleventy-nine flavors of it. There is no focus. There is no direction. There is no one in charge. There is no One Great Product. And, as such, it's a toy. A cool toy, but still. That's what it will always be, unless someone comes out with 'Linux 95'. It's been around for 20 years, though. You'd think that if there were going to be a breakthrough, there would be glass all over the floor.