Adobe Joins Linux Team, Springs AIR

The Linux community got a double dose of Adobe on Monday when the San Jose, Calif.-based company announced it rolled out some Linux-friendly software and joined the Linux Foundation.

Adobe made available an English-only prerelease version of AIR (Adobe Integrated Run-Time) for Linux, which enables developers to apply various Web technologies — HTML (hypertext markup language), Adobe Flash, Adobe Flex and Ajax, among them — to build rich Internet applications on the Linux desktop.

A perfected AIR, with multiple languages, will be released for Linux later in the year. AIR already supports Windows and Macintosh platforms.

Finalized Releases Coming

The company plans to release a finalized version of its Flex Builder 3 soon. An alpha version for Linux is currently on Adobe’s Web site.

“Adobe delivers key RIA (rich Internet application) technologies for Linux users, such as Adobe Flash Player and now Adobe AIR, to deploy RIAs in the browser and on the desktop,” said David McAllister, director of standards and open source at Adobe. “The Linux Foundation is a valuable resource, providing a forum where we can work with the community to ensure Adobe RIA technologies are compatible across the Linux software platform.”

The company’s decision to join the organization is a natural extension of its commitment to open source technology, noted Jim Zemlin, the Linux Foundation’s executive director.

“Adobe’s membership will contribute to our goal of increasing even more application development on Linux with a specific emphasis on Web 2.0 applications,” he added.

Adobe’s newest moves toward Linux are strong indicators of strong support for open source platforms.

“Open is almost always better,” Alan Chapell, president of Chapell and Associates, told LinuxInsider. “I think that open is not only better for Linux and for the industry as a whole; it’s better for Adobe.”

Market Potential

Additionally, Adobe doesn’t want to place any limitations on its products’ market potential, Chapell said. “You never want to make the mistake that the folks at WordPerfect made. They did everything to make sure the Windows thing wasn’t going to take off. That created a huge opportunity for Microsoft, which said, ‘OK, as part of our operating system, we’re going to have this software called ‘Word.’ What ended up happening was as the Windows operating system grew, so did Word. Now, there still may be some people using WordPerfect, but I don’t know who they are.”

The issue with Linux being adopted more widely is that there aren’t enough applications that are easy enough to make the platform accessible to more people, commented Roger Kay, principal analyst Endpoint Technologies.

“You need more a browser and less activity suites,” Kay told LinuxInsider. “Google Apps are the logical conclusion of that. The concept is out there that you can do various things while you’re up in the cloud. The problem then is not so much the power of the computer but how easy it is to reach that functionality. Bringing a lot of the graphic richness of what Adobe has enabled up in the cloud to a Linux platform would actually make it more appealing.”

Adobe has made a small step, with its move toward open source, Kay continued. “But it’s an evolution in creating a viable alternative platform for folks who just want to do things on the Internet.”

As a client platform, Linux still has to mature, he said. “Only pretty tech-savvy people can use it. I have friends who use it and love it, but these are guys that write tools for Oracle.”

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