Running Adobe AIR on Linux

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Want to run web applications on your desktop without a browser? Adobe’s Integrated Runtime (AIR) does exactly that and now an alpha release for Linux is available. Adobe has already released AIR 1.0 for Windows and Mac but apparently the Linux version has been delayed while Adobe waited for Flash for Linux to be finalized.

Air makes it possible to run a range of applications (usually web applications) on Windows, Linux and Mac using the runtime environment. Think Java’s ‘write once, run anywhere’ mantra made easier.

Already there are a good handful of AIR applications available, although not all of them run on the alpha version on Linux without a little tweaking. Many of those that do run on Linux are listed on Adobe’s site, including a mapping application using Yahoo! Maps web services, a desktop ruler and a decent RSS browser called Pixel Perfect. We also tested some of the suggested applications here and with a few exceptions, most worked well on Ubuntu 8.04. A more comprehensive list of AIR applications is available on Adobe’s AIR showcase.

Installing AIR on Linux
Adobe Air alpha for Linux only runs on systems using the .deb or .rpm packaging system. Officially AIR also only runs on RedHat Desktop Linux 4, RedHat Enterprise Linux v5, Novell Desktop Linux 9, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 and Ubuntu 6.06 but we successfully installed it on Ubuntu 8.04.

To install AIR for Linux, download the Linux installer (around 15MB). You will need to make the installer executable:

chmod +x adobeair_linux_a1_033108.bin
You can then run the installer by double-clicking the file or running it from a command line.

Once you have AIR installed you’ll need some sample applications. Start with the suggested ones on the Adobe Air for Linux site which will work if you have AIR running.

One of the applications not listed on the Adobe sample site but which reader Bradley Wells suggests is feedalizr, which aggregates Twitter and FriendFeeds among others.

Download the Feedalizr file which will be called feedalizr.air. Double-clicking this file will open it in the Adobe Air installer. Follow the instructions and Feedalizr will be installed.

Uninstalling AIR is down through the normal package management system because AIR is installed as a regular Debian or RPM package. The package is called AdobeAIR_enu on .rpm systems and adobeair-enu for Debian systems.

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