This is old news now, but back in June 2011, Adobe stopped supporting AIR for Linux. AIR 2.6 remains available for Linux, but no further versions will be released, and 18 months down the road AIR 2.6 is starting to fail on current Linux desktops. Our children were sent Jacquie Lawson advent calendars last November, and we just about got them working on our laptop that runs an older version of Ubuntu. On later Ubuntus and Linux Mint, AIR is either not running at all or starting to get flaky. Today I’m upgrading our older laptop, so I believe we’re saying goodbye to AIR for good.
So why did Adobe drop support? Their official message is:
Lifetime AIR for Linux desktop downloads represent less than 0.5% of total AIR desktop downloads, which number over 450 million. Therefore, Adobe has decided to change the distribution model for Linux and direct these resources toward its mobile efforts. Adobe’s efforts are focused on supporting operating systems that are most important to its customers, and that demonstrate the greatest opportunity for future growth for its partners and developers…
So, Adobe basically feels that there aren’t enough people using the Linux version of AIR to make it worth them making it. 0.5% of 450 million is 22.5 million. Around 20 million people using something is too small a number for Adobe to support. I wonder what other companies would do for around 20 million customers, or for 20 million downloads of their product? Adobe may believe it likes to focus on supporting the platforms that are “most important to its customers”, but that’s clearly not true for up to 20 million of its former customers, for many of whom Linux is the only operating system they use. What they mean is “we focus on operating systems that are important to most of our customers“. If you don’t fit the easiest possible profile for Adobe to exploit, you’re not of interest to them. So, taking wonderful liberties with language, they’re “changing their distribution model” – to one where there’s no actual distribution go on.
This highlights afresh for me why I couldn’t give a stuff about the software offerings of companies like Adobe. They’re not in it for me. I the customer am to jump through stupendous hoops and give up all kinds of liberties to make it easy for them to sell me stuff. In reality, if Adobe are supporting OS X, it is also easy for them to also support Linux as both are Unix-like systems. I suspect they already offer Linux support for their favoured clients in Holywood who very often use Linux platforms for CGI. No, Adobe’s decision is nothing to do with following what the market wants. Linux is the fastest growing desktop OS. Instead, massive software corporations like Adobe prefer to manipulate the market – shutting down choices they don’t like; that they perceive interfere with their preferred business model. They value their customers like a beef farmer values his cattle.
Well, I don’t buy into it. Jacqui Lawson can go whistle next year if she’s thrown in her lot with people like that.