Adobe has announced plans to drop support for desktop Linux in the next version of the Adobe AIR platform, instead focusing its resources on Windows, Mac, and mobile platforms such as Android, BlackBerry Tablet OS and iOS.

AIR is a runtime that allows developers to write apps using the same tools used for Adobe Flash web apps, but AIR apps can run natively on a computer or mobile device. A few years ago when AIR first hit the scene, it seemed like a promising new platform that allowed developers to write apps that could run on Windows, Mac or Linux computers without any modifications. But it’s been a while since I’ve run across any must-have desktop apps written in AIR, so I’m not sure how much I care that Adobe is dropping support for desktop Linux operating systems.

The move also makes sense from another standpoint: A relatively small number of people are using desktop Linux as their primary operating system and only a small number of those people are using Adobe AIR. The company says fewer than 0.5% of AIR downloads have been on Linux.

Despite pundits claiming every year for the past decade or so that this will be the year of desktop Linux, the platform has continued to trail as a distant third behind Windows and OS X. That’s not even taking into consideration the fact that there are hundreds of different versions of desktop Linux.

On the other hand, mobile operating systems such as Android and iOS are on the rise — and the Adobe AIR platform makes it possible for developers to write mobile apps that will run on a variety of these devices. In fact, AIR is one of the key development platforms for the new BlackBerry Tablet OS (although if desktop Linux doesn’t have a lot of users, the BlackBerry PlayBook has even fewer).

I know from server logs and from the long history of Linux and netbooks that Liliputing readers are more likely than most to be active Linux users. What do you think? Do you care that Adobe is officially dropping support for AIR? Did you ever use it in the first place?

Adobe will offer tools that will allow its partners to port AIR to Linux, so this might not be the end. But the company won’t be putting any more of its own resources into developing Adobe AIR or the AIR SDK for Linux.

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11 replies on “Adobe AIR is dropping support for desktop Linux: Do you care?”

  1. It’s a bit bothersome for Adobe to drop AIR support for GNU/Linux. I can’t think of any AIR apps I use on Linux, but I do use Linux to develop the occasional AIR app. I assume that ability will now be gone, and I’ll be stuck developing on some other OS inside VirtualBox. As for the lack of must-have desktop apps written in AIR, I think the reason is pretty simple: why muck about with AIR when there’s Qt or wxWidgets to make your application cross-platform for desktop use without sacrificing native performance?

  2. I don’t from a personal perspective, but considering Android is Linux based how much of a stretch is it to maintain Linux support? 

    1. Android uses a linux kernel, but the development tools are very different.
      Android apps have more in common with JAVA apps than software for, say,
      Ubunt or Fedora. That’s why you don’t see a ton of ports of Linux staples
      like OpenOffice or Gimp for Android

  3. I have used Adobe Air on Linux, but I never have found any “Must Have” apps that can’t be replaced by a desktop or web app. Adobe has never really taken desktop Linux seriously, so I don’t take Adobe very seriously either.

  4. Never tried it, but it is kind of sad that big companies drop GNU/Linux support

  5. Never worked on my Linux desktops anyway and so few apps use it that I don’t really care.

  6. By far, tweetdeck is the most popular desktop air app. I don’t know if that bugs anyone that it’s not going to work anymore. However, it might be that you can still use it indefinitely even with an old version.

  7. Yes I have used AIR applications, BBC IPlayer Desktop for instance. And yes I do care. It is frustrating to see a big software company dropping Linux support of a “multiplatform” framework. Nevertheless, in a long run, I think this is more a loss for Adobe than for Linux.

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