It was only a month ago that Adobe cut off Linux’s AIR, so bloggers may be excused if they were a bit surprised by last week’s news.
Namely? In yet another twist in the company’s on-again/off-again relationship with our favorite open source operating system — a roller-coaster ride that involved taking away 64-bit Flash for Linux last year — Adobe has now apparently seen fit to bring it back again.
Don’t look now, but those neck pains you feel just may be whiplash, and you’re not the only one.
‘I Always Wanted Vulnerabilities!’
“Good news,” wrote fuzzyfuzzyfungus on Slashdot, for example. “It’s nice to see that Adobe is supporting Flash on Linux.”
Similarly, “I hate to say it, but I really appreciate Adobe treating Linux well,” wrote Anonymous Coward.
Alternatively: “Awesome!” wrote Kamiza Ikioi “I always wanted vulnerabilities in my otherwise secure 64bit systems!”
And again: “Exploits and crashes are now up to 80% faster,” chimed in gstrickler.
‘They Recognize the Potential’
Like-minded comments could be heard on blogs far and wide, so Linux Girl knew it was time to take action.
“Did complaining finally get us somewhere?” mused Thoughts on Technology blogger and Bodhi Linux lead developer Jeff Hoogland.
“I and many others had written about the lack of 64bit Linux flash in recent months,” Hoogland added. “The fact that Adobe is producing it again is a sure sign they recognize the potential market share the Linux community represents.”
‘It’s About Time’
Indeed, “it does signal that Adobe is still serious about Linux support,” agreed Chris Travers, a Slashdot blogger who works on the LedgerSMB project.
“If Adobe is going to support Linux at all with Flash, this is fast becoming a requirement,” Travers added. “It may have been less important in the past, but now 64-bit Linux is taking off on consumer hardware and there are fewer compatibility problems.”
For Barbara Hudson, a blogger on Slashdot who goes by “Tom” on the site, “it’s about time,” she told Linux Girl. “Now we can get all those Flash exploits in native 64-bit goodness!
“Just joking,” she added. “Sort of.”
Adobe recommends that the pre-release software “not be used on production or mission-critical systems,” Hudson pointed out. “Hmmm … I think I’ll wait a bit.”
‘The Best of Both Worlds’
In any case, “it’s good that Adobe is once again seeing Linux as a ‘maybe we should support it half-way decently’ platform,” Hudson opined. “Maybe we can now discount those rumors of Microsoft wanting to buy Adobe.”
Of course, “if they REALLY wanted to support linux, they’d offer native versions of their content-generation tools rather than Linux Flash devs having to depend on the Flex SDK and command-line compiler from Adobe’s open-source site,” she suggested. “This would give all Linux users the best of both worlds.”
Consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack agreed that the news came not a moment too soon.
‘I’m Still Nervous’
“Finally,” he told Linux Girl. “10.3 square had several known security bugs and one bug that caused garbled sound on some videos.
“I hope that this time they will keep the 64-bit port up to date, but given their track record so far, I’m still rather nervous,” Mack added.
Indeed, “what’s with that?” mused blogger Robert Pogson. “First Adobe’s off, then on, then off, then on again… Does anyone there know what they are doing?”
‘Who Will Rely on Adobe or Flash?’
Sixty-four-bit computers are “pretty standard these days, and GNU/Linux and Android/Linux are making waves,” Pogson pointed out. “Doesn’t Adobe want their product to be where it’s happening? Isn’t the game about maximizing share to exclude the competition?”
Perhaps even more to the point, “who will rely on Adobe or Flash with this record of instability?” he asked. “If the same folks at Adobe made the decision to keep PhotoShop out of GNU/Linux, why have they been consistent on that issue but flip-flopping on Flash?”
Competition is surely at least part of what drove Adobe’s decision, Hyperlogos blogger Martin Espinoza suggested.
‘The Benefits Ought to Be Obvious’
“As Microsoft continues to push their own Flash competitors, Adobe has been forced to buddy up to Linux as the last group that actually seems to want Flash support,” Espinoza explained.
“I haven’t had much problem with 32-bit flash,” he added. “Since I have an nVidia GPU I am able to use the acceleration features in the Flash player for Linux version 10.2.x, and thus everything seems to run plenty fast here.”
In any case, “the performance benefits of a 64-bit flash ought to be obvious to anyone,” Espinoza concluded. “I do prefer to be able to fully utilize my computer’s attributes.”
‘Thank Goodness There Are FLOSS Equivalents’
Looking ahead, “I will continue to complain to web sites that don’t respect my 64bit GNU/Linux system,” Pogson asserted. “I gave a blast to several auto companies the last time I was in the market for a new car and they had nothing but Flash on their pages at a time that Adobe was ‘off.'”
Another Adobe product that “provides grief to GNU/Linux is AcroRead (Acrobat Reader),” he added.
“If I wanted the malware that haunts that other OS, I would run that other OS,” Pogson concluded. “Thank goodness there are sane FLOSS equivalents in GNU/Linux.”