Flash Player for 64-bit Linux – BETA NOW AVAILABLE!

Getting Flash Player working on 64-bit Linux systems has been a challenge. But not anymore! Today Adobe Systems released a beta of native Flash Player 10 for 64-bit Linux! Check it out and report bugs to the open Flash Player bug database. Here is a short video I shot of me testing the new Flash Player 10 plugin for 64-bit Ubuntu Linux. Let me know what you think!

Intuit Unites Flex RIAs and the Cloud

Normal computer users like my father know at least three software vendors: Microsoft, Adobe, and Intuit. Microsoft is known for Windows and Office, Adobe for PDF (Reader / Acrobat), and Intuit for Quicken and QuickBooks. Yet all three of these software vendors are changing. All are moving in two directions concurrently: rich Internet applications and the cloud. These two paradigm shifts are changing how developers build software but more importantly they are changing how people like my father experience and use software.

The future of software is services in the cloud and rich Internet application on the client. Adobe has pulled back the curtain and given us a glimpse of this with new products like photoshop.com and acrobat.com. Intuit is beginning to do the same with QuickBase and Flex through the Intuit Partner Platform. For developers this means that applications can be built with Flex and live in the cloud. These applications can even integrate with QuickBooks. Intuit has built an Eclipse plugin that works with Flex Builder. This makes it extremely easy to build cloud-based Flex applications. I’ve recorded two short screencasts that will walk you through how all of this works:

Part 1: Creating a QuickBase application with Adobe AIR and Flex

Part 2: Creating a QuickBase widget for the browser and the desktop

To get started or to read more visit Intuit’s Developer website.

Beta Available: Adobe AIR 1.1 for Linux

Having used Linux as my primary desktop for over ten years I can’t help but be a bit jealous of all the great software Windows and Mac users have available to them. But I can’t really blame the software creators for focusing on only those platforms. It’s just purely economics. The cost / benefit of making software work on Linux just isn’t there for most consumer software. What we have always dreamed of is “Write Once, Run Anywhere”. Why can’t software developers write applications for one OS and have it run on all of them?

Adobe Systems has been making great progress turning the dream of consistent, ubiquitous, and cross-platform software run times into reality. This is one of the many reasons I am excited about what Adobe is doing with their software platform technologies and I am happy to be a Technical Evangelist for them. The Flash Player releases have been sim-shipping on all three major platforms (Windows, Mac, and Linux) for almost a year now. But the recent addition to the platform stack, Adobe AIR, is still lagging a bit behind on Linux. Today Adobe posted a beta build of Adobe AIR 1.1 for Linux on the labs.adobe.com site. We all hope that soon even the AIR releases will sim-ship on all three major operating systems. But until then, go download this beta, give it a try and let Adobe know how it works for you.

Where is 64-bit Linux support for Flash Player?

I run 32-bit Linux but there is a very vocal group of people who really want 64-bit Linux support for Flash Player. Today there is a decent work around for running the 32-bit Flash Player on a 64-bit Linux system using the nspluginwrapper. From what I’ve heard it works fairly well on most distro’s but I haven’t heard yet how well it works with the new Flash Player 10 beta. Despite this potential work around eventually Adobe does need to natively support 64-bit Linux – and they will. This is not as simple as a recompile – otherwise there would be 64-bit support today. There is a bug already filed in the public Flash Player bug database for 64-bit support. I’d encourage you to not just go vote for that bug but also to get involved. As Tinic Uro points out in the bug comments, the missing piece for 64-bit support is open source – so you can help! Flash Player uses the open source Mozilla Tamarin VM. This VM does not yet support 64-bit Linux because all that machine code generation in the JIT compiler needs to be ported from 32-bit to 64-bit. The code is in Mozilla’s Tamarin Central Mercurial repo. This IS open source! You can help get 64-bit Linux support for Flash Player!

Talkin’ About a Revolution

Revolutions may be enabled by technology, but they are driven by people. Adobe’s recent announcements about Flex, Flash, and Adobe AIR on Linux are the most recent technology enablers for the software revolution that is currently underway.

Usually I’m one of the first to post about Adobe’s Linux related announcements. My trip to Bangalore, India, however, made me a little late to the party this time. In case you haven’t seen the announcements, on March 31, 2008 Adobe released an alpha version of Adobe AIR on Linux and an update to the alpha version of Flex Builder 3 for Linux (which supports building AIR applications on Linux). On the same day Adobe also announced that we joined the Linux Foundation.

In a post about the announcement, JD points to one of my old blog posts, which still accurately echoes the significance of this announcement – “… for the first time EVER, nearly everyone in the world has access to a FREE, ubiquitous application runtime, and a FREE application development toolkit for that runtime! Of course I’m referring to Flash Player 9 and the free Flex 2 SDK.” Now I can update this statement “For the first time EVER, everyone in the world has access to a FREE, ubiquitous web runtime, a FREE cross-OS desktop runtime, and a FREE, open source, and mature development toolkit for those runtimes! Of course I’m referring to Flash Player 9, Adobe AIR, and the Flex 3 SDK.” This is huge. We can now build real software once and have it run on every major OS and in every major browser – and we can do it using open source tools!

Why the excitement? Haven’t we had this for years – with Java? QT? GTK? True… in theory. We’ve had the technology; but we always lacked a critical mass of people that were actually using it for wide reaching, real software. There are now countless companies – including Oracle, SAP, Salesforce.com, Intuit, E*Trade, eBay, AOL, NASDAQ, Yahoo!, and numerous startups – that are using Flex to build real software for Flash Player on the web and Adobe AIR on the desktop. This kind of software revolution is reminiscent of the transition from client-server to web applications. The movement is real. The technology is mature (even the new Adobe AIR desktop runtime consists primarily of mature, proven technologies like Flash Player, Tamarin, SQLite, and Webkit). Software is changing for the better, especially for those of us on Linux.

I now have several desktop applications installed on Linux – such as the eBay Desktop – which I would never have had before AIR worked on Linux. Most companies simply do not invest time and money building or porting their software for such a small customer base. With AIR it doesn’t matter. Companies build the software once and it works on the web, on the desktop, on Windows, on Mac, on Linux. This is a software revolution not because the technology exists, but because people – lots of people – are actually using it.

Today we call the products of this software revolution “Rich Internet Applications”. In ten years it’ll just be “software”.