Flash for Linux — It’s Not for Designers

NEW YORK — Adobe has made great strides in making Flash available on Linux
lately, but it still has some work to do.

In a well attended session at the LinuxWorld Open Solutions Summit currently
underway in New York, Emmy Huang, flash product manager for Linux and James
Ward technical evangelist at Adobe, described in great detail the efforts that Adobe is making with Flash for Linux.

Adobe recently released Flash Player 9 for Linux, which is a major step up for Linux since Adobe never released Flash Player 8 on Linux. The release of Flash players on Linux to date has lagged Windows and Mac versions, though Huang noted that the plan is to ship Linux, Windows and Mac versions at the same time at some point in the future.

For Adobe, getting the flash player to run on Linux required making a number of developer library decisions that the other operating systems don’t have to deal with. As an example, Huang noted that Adobe had to decide on which graphics library it would use to base its user interface library on and had a choice between GTK and qt.
Adobe ultimately chose GTK.

“In general we chose the standard but we really just want it to work,” Huang said. “Our wish list is for more consistency of libraries across the various Linux distributions, which would enable wider support.”

The problem revolves around the fact that there really isn’t such a thing a
standard Linux desktop. Efforts like the Linux Standard
Base (LSB)
, which aims to provide standardized API’s for the Linux
desktop, fall short for Flash.

“We ran the LSB compliance tool and it did not define the things that we needed,” Huang said. “We’ve provided our results to the LSB and we will continue to evaluate as the LSB evolves, but for now it’s not quite there for flash player.”

On the developer side, Adobe is pushing Flash with efforts such as the Mozilla Tamarin project, which is based on Adobe’s recent open source contribution of its ActionScript language, which itself is an
implementation of JavaScript.

Adobe’s James Ward went to get great lengths to demo how its Flex Rich
Internet Applications (RIA) platform can work with Linux. Ward noted that there are free SDKs available as well as an Eclipse IDE plug in to help facilitate development.

That said, though Adobe is making effort with Flex and Flash Player, Adobe’s
Flash Developer Professional 8 application, which is the principal Flash development tool for interface designers, is not available on Linux.

Adobe apparently also has no immediate plans of making it available on Linux

Ward argued that all Flash design is done on either Windows or Mac. He noted that Flex can be used to do some low level design programmatically, and Flex will work on Linux.

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