Don't Hold Your Breath Waiting for AIR's Linux Support

by chromatic

Oh, joy. Adobe is at it again.

AIR applications are deployed as a single AIR file that works identically cross-platform. The api's within AIR are identical across different operating systems so any application behavior will work the same regardless of where it is running. Regardless if you use HTML/AJAX or Flash/Flex to build your application the API's are identical and run on MAC/WIN/LIN without issue.

Ted Patrick, Why Adobe AIR?

Given that Adobe's evangelists have a very difficult time telling the truth about which platforms Adobe actually supports (particularly pernicious with regard to Flash; see Uh, Thanks for the "Linux" Support for one example), does anyone really think that AIR will run on anything more exotic than 32-bit x86 GNU/Linux? Set aside the fact that, as much as Ted's quote may make you think that AIR runs on "Linux" right now, it sounds like no one outside of Adobe will see that binary blob until later this year.

When I think about cross-platform support, I think about the first time I sent e-mail on the Internet via a FidoNet gateway accessed through a PC bulletin board from my Commodore 128 over modem-to-modem dialup in the very early '90s.

Again (I always have to disclaim this), Adobe has every right to support only the platforms and processors it wants to support. I have no problem with that.

As usual, I offer any Adobe evangelist, manager, or developer the chance to prove me wrong, publicly, by successfully installing a publicly released version of Adobe Flash on the GNU/Linux laptop sitting six feet behind me in my office. (Good luck; it has a PPC CPU.)

Just don't tell me that you offer cross-platform support and then stick me in a ghetto because I'm using the wrong operating system and the wrong processor. I know what cross-platform support means -- you can still browse the web on a Commodore 64 -- and your walled garden isn't it. For all its flaws (don't get me started on the codec licensing nonsense), Moonlight has a better claim to cross-platform compatibility. For starters, it doesn't lock you out if you happen to be using the wrong type of CPU.

(I thought one of the goals of high-level programming languages and frameworks and virtual machines was so that you don't have to worry about the details of the lower levels. Of course, I thought one of the goals of web applications was independence of platform at the level of operating system and below. Shows what I know.)


2008-03-17 15:56:27
Cross platform doesn't automatically mean 'every' platform. Flash Player is cross platform because it runs on multiple platforms which happen to include Linux/x86 but not Linux/PPC. Flash Player is also not supporting Windows/MIPS or heaps of other combinations for that matter.
2008-03-17 16:10:33
Cross platform doesn't automatically mean 'every' platform.

Oh I agree, but I expect that a technical evangelist would know which platforms the software supports. I can't imagine Ted Patrick would say "Adobe AIR supports Windows" if AIR only ran on Windows/MIPS and Adobe planned to release that software to the public at the end of 2008.

If "cross-platform" is your selling point, you probably should tell the truth about exactly which platforms you support.

2008-03-17 17:31:42
True. But there are a lot more platforms the Flash Player doesn't support then it does support. I wouldn't expect Ted Patrick to state every time he mentions that Flash Player (or AIR) is cross platform a list of the platforms that are not supported in this cross platform context.

When he says "supports windows" than that is true for most us running windows except those two users of Windows NT/MIPS who never ever heard of Flash Player and don't even care.

I know it's not that black and white but I'm sure you know what I'm saying. There is simply no reason for Adobe to put effort in supporting PPC since Apple 'switched over' which is the same reason they don't support MIPS either.

Simon Proctor
2008-03-18 05:01:29
Don't forget the unloved AMD 64 platform. The hoops i've had to jump through to get Flash running on my machines has been annoying.

But now I too can watch You Tube at work.

2008-03-18 05:20:03
This may be splitting hairs, but what really is meant by 'platform' if this word is only referring to Operating Systems then it seems that Air meets the definition. But isn't the hardware running the OS part of the 'platform'? If so, then cross-platform it is not. If x86 hardware is all it will run on (and some of it not all that well AMD), then it should be called 'Multi-OS Compatible' or some such name that clearly communicates that it will run within OSX, Win, Linux, but only on the same hardware architecture. Again, this all depends on the accepted defintion of the word 'platform'.
1) Operating System
2) Operating System & Hardware Architecture
3) None of the above. :)