Adobe Reader 9.1 for Linux and Solaris x86 has been released today. Solaris x86 support was one of the most requested feature by users. As per the Reader team’s announcement, this release includes the following major features:
– Support for Tabbed Viewing (preview)
– Super fast launch, and better performance than previous releases
– Integration with Acrobat.com
– IPv6 support
– Enhanced support for PDF portfolios (preview)
The complete list is available here.
Adobe Reader 9.1 is now available for download and works on OpenSolaris, Solaris 10 and most modern Linux distributions such as Ubuntu 8.04, PCLinuxOS, Mandriva 2009, SLED 10, Mint Linux 6 and Fedora 10.
A number of users have tweeted, blogged and sent us emails – “It’s understandable for AIR itself to need root access during its installation (since it installs to /opt), but why do AIR applications need root access for installation, especially when I’m installing the application to a folder owned by me?”
The answer lies in the fact that AIR applications are similar to regular native applications – they install as native rpm/deb packages. This requires access to the rpm/deb system database (e.g. rpm database lock). And this is required even if the installation folder is chosen to be one that is owned by the current non-root user. In addition, with root privileges, it’s also possible to install applications to a location that is accessible to other users on the system.
However, do note that when they are launched, AIR applications run with the privileges of the user launching the application and not root. The primary executables of AIR applications (under the bin/ folder in the installation path) do not have the setuid bit set. You should not be worried about AIR applications running with root privileges, based on the fact that their installation required superuser access – the two are completely independent.
AIR applications are not web applications running outside the browser, but are full-fledged desktop applications with their own windows and access to the filesystem, clipboard and other system resources.
Being desktop applications, they should also integrate well with the system’s package manager (instead of being simply extracted to a directory). On Windows, this corresponds to “Add/Remove Programs”. On Linux, this means the likes of Synaptic or Pirut. This makes it easy for users – since they use the system’s package manager to uninstall other applications, it should be no different for AIR applications. AIR also depends on the package manager for version management of applications (and of the runtime itself) and to ensure that required dependencies are fulfilled.
Since rpm and deb are the most popular package formats, we chose to focus on them. They have been widely adopted, are used in several popular Linux distributions and are not specific to a distro. Who knows which formats will be popular by the time the next version of AIR is released!
Though AIR’s installer is available as a self-extracting executable and AIR applications are distributed as .air files, both of these get installed on the system as native rpm/deb packages. We’re considering alternative distribution formats – If you have an idea or suggestion, please let us know.