AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) is a platform that allows the creation of web applications and run them on the desktop alongside “classic” software. The Windows and Mac OS X version of AIR has been around for a while and today, Adobe released a first alpha version for us Linux users.
The software isn’t available on the home page of Adobe directly but can be downloaded at the Adobe Labs. The installer is a binary installer that requires root privileges, which were gained after a window prompted me to enter my password. This is the standard way in Ubuntu and therefore handled correctly.
The installation itself is fast and only consists of this window:
After a few seconds, Adobe AIR is installed into /opt and a new menu entry called “Adobe AIR Application Installer” can be found in the menu. All it does is opening a file chooser where you can select and .air file to install it.
The first application I tried to install was the Adobe Media Player. When I opened the .air file I was greated by this error:
Sorry, an error has accoured
This application requires an update to Adobe AIR but downloading that update on your system is not allowed by your administrator. Please contact your administrator.
I don’t know whether there is a workaround for this problem and I didn’t bother to search for one. Instead, I tried other applications. The next one I tried was a Google Analytics interface, which installed whithout problems. I won’t write anything about that application itself because that’s not in the scope of this review.
There are many more AIR applications on the Adobe marketplace, but they are not installable because the website claims that Air is not available for my system.
I will leave it at that for now and come to my conclusions regarding AIR on Linux:
- Adobe AIR for Linux really is alpha software. If you don’t have strong reasons to install it, don’t
- Adobe should settle on one way to deploy Linux software. Flash is available as rpm and tarball, Reader is also available as deb, now AIR brings its own .bin installer. The right way to do things is to offer packages for the major Linux distributions, like Skype does
- Flash is a core part of AIR and Flash on Linux is pretty bad. For most people, Flash consumes lots of CPU power, crashes Firefox and makes fullscreen video impossible. If Adobe doesn’t fix Flash, Air won’t be any better
- Last but not least: It’s great to see that Adobe shows interest in Linux and a runtime that works on all three major desktop operating systems will probably bring more software to Linux. If, however, Adobe continues to treat Linux as a third class citizen AIR might do more harm than good to Linux because software vendors won’t release native software but only “Airplications” that only run badly on Linux, similar to software running on Wine