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Adobe to Linux users: Get Chrome or forget Flash

Spells out plans for this year and next in new roadmap

Adobe today said that it would stop offering direct downloads of Flash Player for Linux, telling users to move to Google's Chrome browser, which bundles Flash with its updates.

Today's demotion of Flash Player on Linux to Chrome-only was the second time in the last three months that Adobe has withdrawn some or all support from a version of the popular media software: In November, Adobe announced it was abandoning development of Flash for mobile browsers, including the new Chrome for Android .

In a roadmap for Flash Player ( download PDF ), Adobe unveiled its plans through 2012 and into 2013.

The last version of a separate Flash Player for Linux, 11.2, will be released this quarter, Adobe announced in the roadmap document. After that, Linux users who require browser-based Flash must switch to Chrome, Google's three-year-old browser.

Chrome's developers have been working on a new API (application programming interface) dubbed "PPAPI" (Pepper Plugin API), or "Pepper" for short, to replace the long-standing Netscape Plugin API (NPAPI) that Flash and other plug-ins use in non-Microsoft browsers.

Adobe has been collaborating with Google, the former said, on Pepper implementation for Flash, which will let it create a single plug-in for all systems that Chrome supports. In other words, the same Flash Player plug-in will run in Chrome on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

However, the timing is up in the air.

"Google will begin distributing this new Pepper-based Flash Player as part of Chrome on all platforms, including Linux, later this year," said Adobe.

Chrome already supports PPAPI -- it has since Chrome 14, which launched last September -- and uses it for the browser's own PDF viewer.

Flash Player 11.2 will be the last version for Linux that Adobe offers as a download from its own website, but it promised to support that edition with security patches for at least the next five years.

But Adobe stressed it will continue to create new versions of the Flash Player plug-in for other browsers on Windows and Mac, the company said.

On Apple's OS X, Adobe said it was working on adding sandboxing to Adobe AIR applications -- AIR is a cross-platform runtime environment that lets developers craft applications using, among other things, Flash and HTML -- so that they can be distributed via the Mac App Store.

Apple had earlier set a March 1 sandboxing deadline for all software funneled through the Mac App Store, but today extended that to June 1.

Adobe also reported that it's working on Flash for Windows 8, but said little else than that.

"[Windows 8] includes a number of different user interface configurations (desktop and Metro) and targeted processor chipsets (x86/64 and ARM), which create a number of different development targets for the Flash runtimes," Adobe said, referring to both Flash itself and AIR.

Microsoft has already said that it will not support the Flash Player plug-in on Windows 8's "Metro" interface, or on the mostly-Metro Windows on ARM (WOA). The version of Internet Explorer (IE) that runs in WOA's desktop mode will also shun plug-ins like Flash, according to Steven Sinofsky, the Microsoft executive who leads the Windows division.

Adobe's decision will impact Mozilla's Firefox on Linux, likely locking that browser into Flash Player 11.2: Mozilla has said it was "not interested in or working on Pepper at this time."

Mozilla did not reply to questions on whether it's now reconsidering its position on Pepper, and failing that, what it would recommend Firefox users running Linux do.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer , on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com .

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com .

Read more about linux and unix in Computerworld's Linux and Unix Topic Center.


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