Adobe joins Linux Foundation, develops Air for Linux

Adobe Systems released an early alpha version of its rich Internet application platform AIR for Linux on Monday, and announced that it has joined the Linux Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes and standardizes Linux.

Air allows Internet-enabled applications to run on Windows and Mac OS X desktops. Air applications use the same technologies as Web applications built to run inside a browser, including HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) and Flash, Adobe’s own multimedia programming language.

The Air runtime framework is already available for Windows and Mac OS X: Adobe’s goal is to allow such applications to run on Linux too, although some applications may not work with the version released Monday.

Adobe described the Linux version of Air released Monday as “alpha quality” — meaning it will still have bugs — and lacking some key features that will be in the final version. The bugs include an inability to work with GNU Java: the alpha version of Air will only work with Sun Java. Adobe has not yet implemented features such as document printing, IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6), support for multiple monitors and DRM (digital rights management).

Programmers can use Adobe’s Flex software development tools to build applications for Air. The company also released Adobe Flex Builder Linux alpha 3 on Monday, allowing developers to build Flex applications using Linux.

As a member of the Linux Foundation, Adobe will join companies including Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Google and Nokia. The Foundation formed last year from the merger of the Open Source Development Labs and the Free Standards Group.

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.”

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