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R.I.P. Reader: Examining Adobe's history of disdain towards Linux users

Chris Hoffman | Oct. 17, 2014
Linux users have recently been celebrating the arrival of an official Photoshop for Linux-- yup, once Adobe's Photoshop-streaming-via-Creative-Cloud is out of beta for Chrome, Linux users will be able to use Photoshop in an official way.

Chrome on Windows and Mac also provide a Pepper-based Flash player. However, for Windows and Mac, Adobe is still releasing modern versions of Flash for NPAPI (Netscape Plugin API) browsers like Firefox and Safari.

Adobe AIR

Adobe also ended Linux support for Adobe AIR with version 2.6 back in 2011. Adobe AIR is a runtime for building "rich internet applications" and deploying them as desktop apps. At this point, you might be thinking "Who cares? Flash has performed terribly on Linux anyway and I don't want those AIR apps on my desktop." And you'd be more or less right. Linux users didn't really want Adobe AIR apps, and Adobe didn't want to support AIR on Linux anymore.

But this decision is still affecting game developers today. It really hurts the selection of Linux games on Steam and elsewhere. Any games programmed with Adobe AIR will run just fine on Windows and Mac OS X, but the developer probably won't be able to port those games to Linux. You may not even know it was Adobe AIR's fault — you'll just see a game that only supports Windows and Mac in Steam and pass over it.

For old Adobe AIR games on Steam, the lack of development on the runtime is causing problems. As the developer of Incredipede put it:

"Incredipede uses Adobe AIR and Stage3d for graphics card support. Adobe has not written graphics card support into the Linux version of AIR so the game can only run with software rendering which is much slower. To compensate I have to turn off a lot of the fancy graphics."

And, as the developer of Bardbarian explained when asked if they could add Linux support:

"Unfortunately not :( We really wish we could, but this is built with Adobe AIR, which does not support Linux."

Adobe AIR games are even causing problems for Valve's SteamOS.

Yes, you'll be able to run Photoshop on Linux and the latest version of Flash is still on Linux if you use Google Chrome. But, when looking at Adobe's gradual axing of all their consumer Linux software, this feels like an accident. If not for Chrome, Linux users would have nothing.

This is especially sad because it's not the software itself that matters. It's all those PDFs with extended forms, websites using Flash, and games written in Adobe AIR that are becoming increasingly unusable on Linux. Adobe's platforms — PDF, Flash, and AIR — are no longer the cross-platform tools they were originally promised to be.

 

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