AIR applications and root access on Linux

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.