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Adobe Joins Linux Foundation, Develops AIR For Linux 171

2muchcoffeeman writes "Adobe announced Monday that it is joining the Linux Foundation and alpha-released a Linux version of its new Adobe Internet Runtime environment, which allows Internet-enabled applications to run on Windows and Mac OS desktops, for Linux. According to Adobe, the alpha version lacks some key features that will be available in the final product and only runs with Sun Java, not GNU Java. Adobe also released an alpha of Flex Builder for Linux Monday."
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Adobe Joins Linux Foundation, Develops AIR For Linux

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  • by AioKits ( 1235070 ) on Monday March 31, 2008 @10:18AM (#22920768)
    ... "You think that's AIR you're breathing?"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31, 2008 @10:21AM (#22920788)
    Not meant as a troll, but it is hard to find an objective explanation of how AIR is going to fill a huge need or bake better bread.
    • also (Score:3, Interesting)

      by someone1234 ( 830754 )
      Wow, something that is written in Java, runs on Linux. *CHEER*
      Oh, well, it isn't compatible with GNU Java, but it runs on Linux *duh*

      Shouldn't it be default that something written in Java runs on ALL platforms which got a JRE?
    • by l-ascorbic ( 200822 ) on Monday March 31, 2008 @10:39AM (#22920970)
      Not totally objective (see my sig), but I'll try. AIR makes it a lot easier for web developers to create apps on the desktop. You can write apps in either Flash, Flex (now open source []) or HTML and Javascript. While it's damn near impossible to create a UI in Java that doesn't look like a PoS (yeah, gross generalisation, but that's my experience), AIR makes it very easy. While stuff like Java Web Start never seemed to work smoothly, AIR integrates really well with web pages (you can do stuff like launch and install apps from the browser). I realise that much of these are benefits for the develop rather than the end user, but this obviously means that it will bring benefits to users in terms of the kind of apps developed.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by pembo13 ( 770295 )
        That's more than a generalization, that's just incorrect. Java makes use of GUI Toolkits just like many other languages. Just this morning I was taking a look at Jambi [].
        • by SteveX ( 5640 )
          Jambi wouldn't be quite the seamless cross platform experience you get with AIR, though, and it looks like you would need to develop separate installers for each supported platform. With AIR, you can post the *.air file somewhere and Mac, Windows and Linux users can grab it and use it.

          It depends on what you're looking for - for some applications, native widgets would be an advantage; for others, consistency between platforms would be an advantage.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by syntap ( 242090 )
        While it's damn near impossible to create a UI in Java that doesn't look like a PoS (yeah, gross generalisation, but that's my experience), AIR makes it very easy.

        AIR is RAD for very easily making PoS interfaces? Or am I reading that wrong?
        • Too many double-negatives in my sentence. Simplified: Making good interfaces in Java: damn near impossible. Making good interfaces in AIR: very easy.
      • I just took a look at the "Adobe AIR Marketplace" and all I see are apps that are just like OS X Dashboard and Microsoft / Yahoo Gadgets. From the end user's perspective, I don't see any benefit to AIR over the others. From the developer's perspective the only advantage I see is cross-platform support, except the user must also download another runtime environment. Without some significant differentiating factors I don't understand how AIR is expected to become popular.
        • by l-ascorbic ( 200822 ) on Monday March 31, 2008 @11:20AM (#22921436)
          Like Dashboard, Gadgets etc, it's easy to develop simple AIR apps. This obviously means that there are a lot of those sort of apps available. This doesn't mean they all are. I may humbly submit my app [] as an example of a less basic one. It does panoramic image stitching, so has machine vision, image processing and that sort of stuff. Not the sort of thing you can do in Dashboard or Gadgets. Incidentally, I've released some of the image processing and maths stuff in our Actionscript library []. It has support for bicubic and bilinear interpolation, histogram stretching, and a partial port of the JAMA matrix algebra library.
          • Your app is definitely a notable difference. I guess it'll be up to the 3rd party developers to promote AIR because browsing Adobe's site I don't see many things that really stand out. Their "Staff Picks" should be filled with more apps like yours that are very different than Dashboard and Gadgets.
            • To be fair, we have been on staff picks, but as we went up on there in November when AIR was still in beta others have taken our place. Unfortunately that did mean we got a lot less visibility from it than if we were up there now AIR has actually been released! Stuff like ours is certainly in the minority though. I think is primarily because most AIR developers have a web background, and the apps are based on web apps. Our was ported from Java, so we're starting from a different standpoint. Perhaps as AIR g
        • Check out for an interesting beta app.
      • So, I am ignorant on this , when you say "now open source", what do you mean? I tried the link but it was hard to find anything about the license used, so, do you know what sort of license is Adobe using for these 'open source' things?
      • by AJWM ( 19027 )
        AIR makes it a lot easier for web developers to create apps on the desktop.

        No it doesn't.

        It makes it easier for web developers to create apps for AIR. If users don't have AIR installed on their desktops, it doesn't do a damn thing for web developers. Same with Flash and other non-standard (ie, proprietary) technologies.

        If web developers want to create apps that run on my desktop, they'd better not be expecting third-party proprietary crap there to host it.
      • AIR makes it a lot easier for web developers to create apps on the desktop. You can write apps in either Flash, Flex (now open source) or HTML and Javascript.
        Or GWT.
    • AIR, is not so different than Java, except based on delivery of Flash, Flex, AJAX content.

      As for what uses it may have. Well, one we're considering is moving the offline version of our product to AIR, which would enable us to track certain content usage and report back to the publisher when reconnected with the internet.

      A lot of the talk of use is in disconnected internet applications. (ie: Downloading a data set, working with it offline and than merging when internet access becomes available again).

    • is hard to find an objective explanation of how AIR is going to fill a huge need or bake better bread.
      Well you see, air is the medium which transfers heat evenly through convection in the baking process. Without air I believe the bread would burn on one side and remain batter on the other but experiments in a vacuum are necessary to confirm this hypothesis.
  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Monday March 31, 2008 @10:22AM (#22920792)
    I once saw an elephant mother grieving over her dead calf. The calf had died due to thirst on the savannah and though the herd moved on to newer pastures, the mother elephant stayed with the dead calf until the mother too died of thirst, and I suppose sadness.

    It was a terrible thing to watch. The emotional stress that the mother elephant went through was so tangible and human-like that I was really moved.

    Kinda like I am with Adobe fans.
  • What is GNU Java? GCJ?

    • Yeah... that Java JRE that doesn't run anything correctly. It's been nothing but troubles for me, at least. YMMV.
      • by Octorian ( 14086 )
        Which some Linux distributions (*cough*RedHat*cough*) insist on giving you instead of Sun Java, while making you think you still have a usable JRE. (and thus making it more difficult to correctly install the Sun JRE in a way that doesn't conflict or sit off to the side)
        • I'm still not sure why Sun lets GCJ enthusiasts get away with calling it 'java'. Whether it's the default packaging, or the distros that do it (redhat/fedora/etc) having a program on your system called 'java' which is so half-assed compatible like the GCJ stuff is just gives Java a bad name. It's far *less* compatible than the MS Java of years ago was with 'mainstream' Java at that time, yet Sun throws a fit over MS, but leaves GCJ enthusiasts alone. I don't get it.
    • GCJ is a compiler for Java. In other words, it takes Java code (which normally runs on top a VM), and compiles it to native code. It totally defeats the purpose of Java being cross-platform, but it's good if you only know Java and need native-level performance
    • Sun released the JRE as Free Software last year. The Sun version, however, includes a load of libraries that Sun does not own and so could not release. There is also a project to create a completely Free Software implementation of Java by replacing these libraries with open source equivalents. That is presumably what the poster was referring to as GNU Java (this is the version of Java you will find in the OpenBSD ports tree, for example).
  • So ... any known application that uses this?

    I had to look it up on google to fid out what exactly adobe AIR is. How big is this?

    • It was only released last month (though it's been in beta since last June) but there are already some significant apps like ebay desktop []. For loads more, of varying significance, see here []. Also, I can shameless plug mine []
  • by calebt3 ( 1098475 ) on Monday March 31, 2008 @10:30AM (#22920884)
    64-bit Flash!
  • Does that mean there is a chance I can finally watch YouTube video on my Ubuntu-powered iMac G4?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by chromatic ( 9471 )

      That's silly; what makes you think Adobe supports Linux? (I mean, because all of their tech marketers and tech evangelists saying that they do.) As far as Adobe cares, the Linux kernel only runs on 32-bit x86 CPUs.

  • What is AIR (Score:5, Informative)

    by WPIDalamar ( 122110 ) on Monday March 31, 2008 @10:30AM (#22920888) Homepage
    For those of you who don't drink the Adobe kool-aid, a quick explanation.

    AIR is a desktop runtime environment. You can run either Html/Javascript or Flash based applications inside it. AIR provides a few interesting features beyond HTML/Flash including:

    1) File I/O
    2) SQLLite Support
    3) An integrated web browser (based on WebKit) that you can use inside applications.
    4) A fairly good distribution mechanism
    5) Desktop integration (OSX Dock icons, Win32 systray support, etc.)

    It's a great technology if you're using Adobe products to make web applications and you want to branch into making desktop apps.

    It's a great technology if you want to make a desktop app that may later become a web app and you want to share most of the code.

    It's a horrible technology if you're a desktop developer who's looking for a different technology.

    It's way more write-once run-anywhere than Java ever was.

    It does not pick up the system's native UI widgets.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by daveime ( 1253762 )
      So how is this any different from those nasty Active-X controls that we are told not to allow ?

      Internet Access + Local File I/O = inevitable 0 day exploit / virus / malware.

      We've seen it in Flash, we've seen it in PDF ... how long before the first AIRsploit ?

      (And before the Java fanboyz start kicking ... the sandbox only works until someone finds a way to climb out of it).
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by l-ascorbic ( 200822 )
        It's not a browser plugin. They are desktop apps, so it's not massively different from any other apps you download - i.e. only install them from sites that you trust. They all have to be signed by the developer (not by adobe, it's ok. you can use your own cert), so there's a bit more piece of mind than you'd get with many apps you may download. At least you know the real world identity of the developers.
        • by AJWM ( 19027 )
          At least you know the real world identity of the developers.

          Only if you follow the chain of trust of the certs back to somebody you know (and everyone in that chain is really trustworthy).

          It wouldn't surprise me at all to see signed malware out there, people tend to click through warnings as though they weren't there, especially so if they've been conditioned to by an OS that pops them up at the slightest provocation. ("Mouse movement detected, Accept or Deny?")

          • AIR only shows it as trusted if Thawte or Verisign are in the chain, who have pretty stringent requirements for the code-signing certs.
    • It's also a great technology if I have a web application that, for some reason or other, people are convinced they want as a desktop app.

      And it does pick up the system's native UI widgets, I think -- at least it does for its embedded WebKit.
    • I've read your explanation, but I still have no clue what AIR actually does. Am I supposed to watch YouTube on it or play web games?
    • by jhol13 ( 1087781 )

      It's way more write-once run-anywhere than Java ever was.
      You mean it works hugely better than Flash?
  • Excellent news. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by l-ascorbic ( 200822 ) on Monday March 31, 2008 @10:31AM (#22920894)
    This is excellent news. We've never had the resources to port our panoramic image stitcher [] to Linux, but as it's now an AIR app, this means we get it for free. I can finally use my own app on Ubuntu! Anyone who hasn't taken a look at AIR yet should seriously check it out, especially now that Flex is open source [].
  • Adobe Loses to SWF (Score:5, Informative)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Monday March 31, 2008 @10:43AM (#22921006) Homepage Journal
    AIR doesn't come preinstalled, so it's just another piece of software people can choose to use, not an existing platform to target with content.

    Meanwhile, the GNU implementation of SWF is GNASH [], which just released a new version. GNASH is also not preinstalled, but it's in some ways superior to Adobe's Flash, while remaining compatible (with practically all features found in the wild, and adding the rest) - and free, including not adding DRM you don't want. And GNASH was announced to be part of the new KDE, so it will in fact be preinstalled on lots of Linux machines.
    • by l-ascorbic ( 200822 ) on Monday March 31, 2008 @10:49AM (#22921088)
      If you install an AIR app, it can install the runtime at the same time. It's pretty transparent, and certainly better than stuff like the Java installer with Web Start. Also, if any company can build an install base it's Adobe. Look at the penetration of Flash.
      • That raises the question of how "open" is, say, Firefox, if it always installs Adobe's Flash player for

        application/x-shockwave-flash []

        And doesn't offer alternatives like GNASH at that time. All media types are supposed to be that transparent, and install their handler plugin when data of that type is first downloaded. But if GNASH isn't offered, even though it's valid, that's not really "open": the preinstalled bundling of the
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        IIRC, Flash was pretty common for a while before Adobe aquired it.

        In fact, the biggest difference that I've seen since then was the proliferation of punch-the-monkey-win-a-free-lappy ads
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Meanwhile, the GNU implementation of SWF is GNASH [], which just released a new version. GNASH is also not preinstalled, but it's in some ways superior to Adobe's Flash, while remaining compatible (with practically all features found in the wild, and adding the rest) - and free, including not adding DRM you don't want. And GNASH was announced to be part of the new KDE, so it will in fact be preinstalled on lots of Linux machines.

      That's the first beta release after four alphas, correct? How "beta" is it?

      • Well, it's "beta" vs "alpha" in the traditional sense: the alphas were test versions tested by the developer team, and the beta is released for testing to people outside the team for feedback. Which is really the distinction here: plenty of people outside the team tested the alphas, but the alphas didn't necessarily use that nonteam feedback. The betas' nonteam feedback is being used to refine the next version.

        So this SW is "beta" the way it used to be before Netscape defined that down to "under constructio
    • Gnash supports many SWF v7 features...
  • by 2muchcoffeeman ( 573484 ) on Monday March 31, 2008 @11:09AM (#22921280) Journal
    Here's the final paragraph of the PC World version of the story []. It points out something else I found interesting ...

    Although the Linux Foundation hailed Adobe's arrival as "a natural extension of its commitment to open standards and open source," that commitment stops short of publishing source code for the Linux version of Air. Adobe's end-user license for the code explicitly forbids any attempt to "reverse engineer, decompile, disassemble or otherwise attempt to discover the source code of the software."

    In other words, "We'll let you play in our sandbox, but don't try to figure out how we built our sandbox so you can build your own sandbox that looks just like our sandbox."

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )
      Somehow I'm not surprised. This *is* Adobe we're talking about.

      What I'm not clear on is "Who is this Linux Foundation?" Google seems to indicate that it's a recent creation of a bunch of companies, and that they claim that they're organized to promote FOSS, but I didn't follow things any further. I'm not at all certain that they should be trusted. I'm not sure they shouldn't be, but allowing Adobe to join seems to indicate that they probably shouldn't.

      When I think of Adobe, I think of how they sic'ed th
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31, 2008 @12:02PM (#22921978)
    As someone who in the last 6 weeks has been currently developing a flex app for both AIR and the web... dont get too excited.
    I am finding the Flex3 framework to be buggy as hell.

    * I have been having constant crashes from Flex Builder (It is built on eclipse)
    * The ui components are coded like dogshit. (i ended up coding custom elements in flash which are the tenth of the size, and work as intended)
    * Some documented features dont work.
    * I have spent alot of time figuring out work arounds/undocumented features.

    sorry for the rant.. but the claim that it is easy to develop flex apps is bullshit.
    I have been using flash since it was called FutureSplash, so after over 10 years of day in day out
    developing and making bread with this tech, I think I can speak with some authority.

    It seems to me that Adobe is glorifying their steps into open source.
    I just have a funny feeling that it is not as good willed, as intended,
    but just as a way to get their shit coded/fixed for free,then reimplemented
    in their closed source upscale/addon technologies.

    Which I might add, allows adobe to compete directly against the very developers
    that buy into their software.

    • by obi ( 118631 )
      Well, I would claim coding in Flex is relatively easy. Just use the SDK with the text editor of your choice. All open source, no worries about bloat/crashing/etc.

      As for the ui components, I find them quite well done. I just wish they'd used the same set of UI components in Flash CS3 - the two different sets of UI components don't mesh well.

      And yea, sometimes some documented features need workarounds, but on the whole I feel the quality is about the same as a lot of other runtimes/languages I've coded for. I
      • You can use prototype-based programming in AS3 if you really want to. You'll find the prototype property right there in Object.
  • by cyberjessy ( 444290 ) on Monday March 31, 2008 @12:05PM (#22921994) Homepage
    From the SWF and FLV File Format Specification and License []
    -- This license does not permit the usage of the specification to create software which supports SWF file playback.

    That's pathetic. Adobe is explicitly trying to control the _format_, while trying to convince (and confuse) people by releasing the runtime and SDK as open source. Which means they still retail all the control of closed-source software, without many people even being aware of it. Once (hopefully not) AIR or Flash becomes a widely accepted platform for applications, Adobe can easily ask people to pay up or do whatever.

    These days, I get frustrated by the number of people who mention that Adobe is a major supported of open source, and get excited about it. Java may suck, but it sure is not a lock in.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Mista2 ( 1093071 )
      Still better effort than silverlight. Oh, yeah, MS support this in other OS's just like they do with Mono. Not! Just what I want, Adobe apps being able to execute more code on my desktop. Umm, no thanks. Developers from this platform will bring all of their Windows and OSX tricks and tips with them to Linux, and you'll never know how buggy/vulnerable it is as all of the SDK is closed. it's why I trust Apache and PHP more than IIS and .asp/.net. I know more eyeballs have looked at the code for these apps th
  • by TheDarkener ( 198348 ) on Monday March 31, 2008 @12:36PM (#22922310) Homepage
    Adobe seems to want to jump on the OSS bandwagon, which might make a lot of people smile... although, ....

    - Flash isn't OSS

    - The Linux Flash binary-only plugin is still WAY behind the Windows version in quality and stability (remember how long we had to wait for Flash 9.x on Linux??)

    - Shockwave Director isn't OSS (and isn't even ported to Linux in a binary-only format, despite the 29511 [] signatures in the online petition that's been going on forever). Not a peep from Adobe on if this will ever even happen, even though revisions are still being made and it being widely used

    - No intention of porting Flash to x86-64 platforms, on Linux -or- Windows (at least AFAIK)

    - Just in my experience alone, COUNTLESS other buggy applications (like the other week, installing a version of Acrobat with a .0 known bug that plainly doesn't launch when executed without a fix from their website)

    I agree Adobe has a LOT of momentum behind them with the Internet community. With this, however, comes great responsibility. If they want to play in the OSS playground, I think they need to share all of their toys like the others do.
    • - Flash isn't OSS - The Linux Flash binary-only plugin is still WAY behind the Windows version in quality and stability (remember how long we had to wait for Flash 9.x on Linux??)

      So, any better suggestions for developing small apps that can be web-delivered via an ubiquitous and easily installed plug-in or packaged as self-contained Windows or Mac binaries and uses vector-based graphics which will scale to fit the screen (very useful for, e.g. educational applets which may be used on interactive whiteboa

      • What I want to know, is why Adobe wants to keep Flash closed-source. What can hurt them from open-sourcing that and Shockwave? It seems to me they are under a lot of pressure from business partners to keep it locked up, *because* it is so widely used.

        And considering Windows and Apple have working Shockwave players... who does that leave out?
  • Glad to see Adobe has their priorities strait.
  • For Linux, or for RedHat on x86? Sad to see even Slashdot has fallen to the low of just pasting press releases instead of questioning these nonsensical claims.
  • To be clear, this is only related to the SDK and NOT the runtime. More specifically, it's related to the debugger (ADT) and it's listed as a "known issue", which seems to imply that it's something they're looking to fix by the time it's released.
  • April Fools is tomorrow.
  • I see no source code. They're not joining the free software community, they're selling to it.
  • Hello there,

    I've just posted a review and a comment at my site [] (translation []) where I point that Adobe makes an amateur mistake, by installing all AIR files as the user who launched the installer, despite the fact that it asks for root access via gksu (a graphic sudo replacement). This makes the user owner of the files "AIR root", letting him able to compromise AIR Apps to all users of the system (either voluntarily or by a virus for example). This goes against all security policies I've ever seen. System

Only God can make random selections.