Adobe Cuts Off Linux’s AIR – ‘and Nothing of Value Was Lost’

Well it’s been another scorching few days here in the Linux blogosphere, where summer appears to have set spring on fire and kicked it out the back door.

It’s no wonder tempers are running hot, but the latest news from the gang over at Adobe has done nothing to help.

“We will no longer be releasing our own versions of Adobe AIR and the AIR SDK for desktop Linux,” wrote Adobe blogger Mark Hopper last Tuesday.

Apparently Adobe’s desktop Linux releases have accounted for less than 0.5 percent of its AIR downloads, causing the company to pack up the effort and focus on mobile instead.

Did Linux bloggers look kindly upon the news? You bet your frozen Mandriva Margarita they didn’t.

‘I Consider This Good Riddance’

“I always thought making sure Adobe doesn’t earn a cent from me is just and proper,” wrote RedSubmarine in the comments on Cnet, for instance. “Yet another time, I’m proven right.”

Similarly, “that gets uninstalled from my computer,” declared Renegade Knight. “It’s enough to have to put up with Flash.”

The Tech Laze blog took an even stronger view.

“As a longtime Linux user I consider this as good riddance,” Tech Laze wrote. “In fact, I think that the Linux community will actually benefit from this decision.”

From there the conversation moved on to LXer and beyond, so Linux Girl knew it was time to learn more.

‘They Desperately Need New Management’

“And nothing of value was lost,” consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack told Linux Girl. “There is nothing that runs on Air that can’t be replaced with something better.”

The real issue, however, is that “Adobe seems to be wandering direction-less, and you can’t trust their road maps at all,” Mack added. “They seem to hop from fad to fad, at times changing direction before even completing their last direction.”

Flash, for example, “is a mess,” Mack asserted. “It’s a slow memory hog, and their 64-bit version hasn’t been updated since November last year while they rushed out a bloated and slow Android version.”

Adobe’s PDF reader, meanwhile, “is outclassed by most of the alternative PDF viewers,” Mack added.

“I don’t often agree with Steve Jobs, but he was right about Adobe products being trash,” Mack concluded. “They desperately need new management before their complete incompetence of late eats into their two cash cows: DreamWeaver and PhotoShop.”

‘To Hell With Them’

Adobe simply “is not serious about GNU/Linux,” blogger Robert Pogson opined. “They’ve made many of their GNU/Linux releases second-rate and refused to release many products for GNU/Linux.”

The longer the company continues on that path, “the more irrelevant they will become,” Pogson warned.

“I remember using AcroRead on my first GNU/Linux installation,” he recounted. “It was second-rate and later filled with vulnerabilities. I used xpdf for most of the last decade.”

Similarly, “I can live without PhotoShop; Gimp or Imagemagick are easier to use for what I might have done with PhotoShop,” he added.

In short, “what have they done for us lately besides jerking us around over 64bit Flash and PhotoShop?” Pogson asked. “If Adobe cannot or will not compete in the FLOSS market, to hell with them. The world can cooperate to make the software it needs.”

Android but Not Linux

Thoughts on Technology blogger and Bodhi Linux lead developer Jeff Hoogland was similarly unimpressed.

“Oh Adobe,” Hoogland began.

“I’m wondering how many more technologies we are going to see that support ‘Android’ but not ‘Linux’ in general,” Hoogland said. “Netflix was the first major application to do this, and Adobe is just one of many to follow suit.”

Of course, “at least with Adobe Air they have the spine to tell us they are dropping the support, unlike the 64bit Linux flash client, which they are just leaving us guessing about!” Hoogland added.

‘AIR Is a Bit Player’

It seems unlikely that many Linux users “are really bummed about AIR per se,” Chris Travers, a Slashdot blogger who works on the LedgerSMB project, told Linux Girl. “AIR is a bit player in the cross-platform app development market — Java, .Net and Python are more important.”

Indeed, “Linux guys would care…. uhhh… why, exactly?” agreed Slashdot blogger hairyfeet. “I’m a Windows guy and have exactly ONE app that uses Air, and that is the GOG downloader, and I can download just as easily with FF and have all the same features with download statusbar extension.

“This isn’t like flash, where everybody uses it; this is like Java applets where nobody in consumer land hardly ever touches the thing,” hairyfeet added. “Frankly, if Air went bye-bye tomorrow, nothing of value would be lost.”

‘Adobe Has a Marketing Problem’

Still, the move is “a mistake on Adobe’s part for a couple of reasons, including the ability of the open source communities to eventually clone players (see Mono and .Net), and the eventual ability of these to be brought back into cross-platform space, to compete with their own tools,” Travers opined.

The larger concern, however, “is what this means for Adobe’s commitment to other products, such as Flash, as well as the chance that this will mean that they are not and don’t plan to ever be interested in a native port of PhotoShop.”

All in all, “Adobe has a marketing problem,” said Barbara Hudson, a blogger on Slashdot who goes by “Tom” on the site.

‘Not Just a Linux Problem’

“When you think of building a ‘Rich Internet Application,’ unless it’s a game, you don’t think of Adobe,” Hudson explained. “And for games, if you think Adobe, you think Flash.”

For everything else, “if it’s browser-based, it’s javascript XHR (xmlhttprequests); freestanding internet apps can use java, python, tcl/tk, qt, wxwidgets, dozens (if not hundreds) of other tools, or again, flash,” she added. “Nobody wants to try to get their users to install yet another runtime (the Adobe AIR runtime).”

The lack of enthusiasm for Adobe AIR is also “not just a linux problem,” Hudson concluded. “Many developers are suffering from ‘YAUIAPIE’ — Yet Another User Interface Application Programming Interface Exhaustion. Once you have a dozen different ways to solve a problem, who wants to invest the time in mastering yet another one?”

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