Adobe Lifts Lid on Flash Player 9 for Linux

Software maker Adobe made available the highly-anticipated Linux version of Flash Player 9 in beta form this week.

The media player, combined with Adobe’s Flex 2 Software Development Kit (SDK), make up a fully-supported, free platform for rich Internet applications.

A final version of the Linux-specific player should be available next year.

“It’s another maturation point for Linux on the desktop,” Interarbor Solutions Principal Analyst Dana Gardner told LinuxInsider. “It’s a pretty significant development in terms of encouragement of use of Linux on the desktop and for applications.”

Mostly the Same

The beta Flash 9 software for Linux supports most of the same features and functionality as Windows and Macintosh versions. Because of the variety of Linux distributions available however, Adobe’s Express Install and auto-update notification features are not available for Linux at this time. The Linux version does not currently support the full-screen option, but will when released in final form, Adobe added.

Some Linux and open source supporters have criticized Adobe for responding slowly to Linux users, but the firm has said it was simply reacting to market realities.

“Adobe tools and technologies — including software suites, the free clients and server software — are available on multiple platforms as customer demand warrants,” Adobe said. “We continue to evaluate Linux development based on customer feedback.”

Software Vendor Service

Adobe did tout the Flash 9 for Linux and its Flex 2 SDK as a way to expand development for Flash Player and Flex technologies by bringing Linux coders into the effort.

The company appears to view Linux as a small part of its business overall, according to Gardner, but it realizes Linux is a growing platform, both for computer users and for developers.

Its Linux move makes Flash more “quasi-platform,” and should ease both the porting of applications to Linux and the development of integrated applications that work with multiple platforms.

“It’s a service to independent software vendors (ISVs),” Gardner said.

Flash For All

In addition, as evidenced by the likes of YouTube and Digg, Internet video-viewing has become extremely popular among consumers, which increases the need for Flash Player capability among the masses.

Consumers and business users alike need the technology to visit a variety of commonly used Web sites, view e-mail invitations and take part in many other Internet activities, Endpoint Technologies Associates Founder and President Roger Kay told LinuxInsider.

“A lot of Flash programming is embedded in Web pages, and typically you want to be able to play it,” he said.

The Flash 9 for Linux functionality makes Linux a better desktop operating system, he said, but the open source platform remains a sliver of the market. Nevertheless, Adobe’s support for an alternative platform is a good thing, he said.

“It is good because Linux doesn’t have a champion, per se, but it does represent an alternative environment,” he said. “Anything that promotes it will keep others — Apple and Microsoft — on their toes.”

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