Adobe AIR on Linux: Call for Pre-Release Users

We’ve been working on new features for the next version of AIR (such as 64-bit binaries and .deb/.rpm installers for AIR), as well as on fixing bugs reported by users (reported via the Adobe Wish Form, via blog posts and on Twitter).
To iron out as many issues as possible before coming out with a public release, we’d like to invite users to help test pre-release builds. If you’re interested and comfortable working with pre-release software, please send an email to the AIR Linux program manager at rahul – dot – bansal – at – adobe – dot – com with answers to the following questions:
1. Will you be able to submit bug reports on issues that you find back to our development team?
2. How many hours a week can you spend testing on Linux?
3. What is the primary distribution of Linux that you’re using? If you are using more than one distribution, please list.
4. Will you be developing applications on your Linux machine (as opposed to writing on Windows and testing the applications on Linux)?
5. What other operating system are you using, if any (Mac, Windows)? Can you compare the behavior of AIR for Linux with AIR for Windows and AIR for Mac OS?
6. Are you working on an AIR application today? If so, please describe.
Please include your name, email address and your company’s name.

Adobe Reader 9 released – Linux and Solaris x86

AdobeReader9_1.png
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.

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.

Why does AIR install only on rpm/deb based Linux distros?

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.

Tutorial – Using Flex Builder Linux with AIR 1.5.1

This article is based on the earlier tutorial about AIR Beta + Flex Builder, but is updated for the latest release of AIR (1.5.1).
The primary changes are:
1. Use AIR 1.5.1 SDK instead of AIR Beta SDK
2. Use Flex SDK 3.3 instead of Flex SDK 3.1

Some changes are required to get Flex Builder to use the latest AIR SDK for Linux. This is a step-by-step guide to get things up and running.
1. Ensure that you have Sun JRE >= 1.5 in your PATH (This can be verified with “java -version”)
2. Install Eclipse (cpp or java) >= 3.3 to $HOME/eclipse
    – Download Eclipse IDE 3.4 from http://www.eclipse.org/downloads/ (if you do not already have Eclipse >= 3.3)
    – Update: Use Eclipse IDE 3.3 (instead of 3.4), to enable the mxml editor (syntax highlighting and more) (from http://www.eclipse.org/downloads/packages/release/europa/winter)
    – cd ~
    – tar zxvf ./eclipse-cpp-ganymede-SR2-linux-gtk.tar.gz
    – This extracts eclipse under ~/eclipse
3. Install Flex Builder alpha 4 Eclipse plugin
    – Download the Flex Builder installer from http://labs.adobe.com/downloads/flexbuilder_linux.html and launch it
    – chmod +x ~/flexbuilder_linux_install_a4_081408.bin
    – ~/flexbuilder_linux_install_a4_081408.bin
    – Choose $HOME/eclipse as the “Existing Eclipse Folder”:
FlexBuilderEclipse.png
    – Choose “Proceed with caution” if prompted
FlexBuilderEclipseWarning.png
4. Install Flex SDK 3.3
    – Download Flex SDK 3.3 from http://opensource.adobe.com/wiki/display/flexsdk/Download+Flex+3
       – Choose Build 3.3.0.4852, Adobe Flex SDK dated Feb 5, 2009
    – Unzip it to a new folder (“3.3″) under ~/Adobe_Flex_Builder_Linux/sdks:
    – cd ~/Adobe_Flex_Builder_Linux/sdks
    – mkdir 3.3
    – cd 3.3
    – unzip ~/flex_sdk_3.3.zip
5. Install AIR 1.5.1 SDK under Flex SDK 3.3
    – Download Adobe AIR 1.5.1 SDK from http://www.adobe.com/products/air/tools/sdk/ to $HOME
    – Untar it to the folder created above
       – cd ~/Adobe_Flex_Builder_Linux/sdks/3.3
       – tar jxvf ~/air_1.5_sdk.tbz2
    – Rename bin/adl to bin/adl_lin and bin/adt to bin/adt_lin (These are what Flex Builder expects)
       – cd bin
       – mv adl adl_lin
       – mv adt adt_lin
6. Set the newly installed SDK as default
    – Launch eclipse
       – ~/eclipse/eclipse
    – Window -> Preferences -> Flex -> Installed Flex SDKs
    – Click on Add
    – Select ~/Adobe_Flex_Builder_Linux/sdks/3.3 as the “Flex SDK location”. Click OK.
AddFlexSDK3_3.png
       – Choose “Flex 3.3″ as the active SDK by selecting its checkbox. Click OK.
FBPrefs3_3.png
We’re done!
To verify that the setup is correct:
1. Create a new AIR application
    – Create a new Flex Builder project (through File -> New)
    – Choose a project name, choose “Desktop application (runs in Adobe AIR)” as the application type. Click Finish.
    – If you see the message “Could not open the editor: Assertion failed”, right-click on the .mxml file in the Flex Navigator panel and select Open with > Text Editor. You can then edit the mxml file, though without syntax highlighting and other features of the mxml editor.
2. Edit the new application’s .mxml file
    – Change the line:
       <mx:WindowedApplication xmlns:mx=”http://www.adobe.com/2006/mxml” layout=”absolute”>
       to
       <mx:WindowedApplication xmlns:mx=”http://www.adobe.com/2006/mxml” layout=”absolute” title=”{NativeApplication.nativeApplication.runtimeVersion}”>
3. Run the application (Ctrl-F11)
4. The application’s window will show up. Check the title of the window. It should be “1.5.1.8210” (latest AIR SDK) if everything was set up correctly.
The application can be packaged as a .air file through File -> Export -> Flex Builder -> Release Build.
1_5_1_8210.png

Setting the correct MIME type for AIR applications on web servers

The Developer Release Notes for AIR 1.5.1 mention the following:

For client browsers to recognize an AIR application when being downloaded, the web server hosting the AIR application needs to map the application/vnd.adobe.air-applicationinstaller-package+zip MIME content type to the “.air” extension. For example, for an Apache web server, add the following to the AddType section:
AddType application/vnd.adobe.air-application-installer-package+zip .air

You can do this in the web server configuration (e.g. httpd.conf or .htaccess for Apache).
Some webservers have an incorrect default value of the MIME type for AIR applications: e.g. Some versions of Apache serve AIR applications with the following MIME type: application/vnd.adobe.apollo-install-package. This MIME type was prevalent when AIR was still in its Beta phase. Unless the MIME type is corrected on servers, there would be a mismatch when a user downloads an AIR application and tries to open it right away.
The following screenshots (Ubuntu Linux 8.10, Firefox 3.0, AIR 1.5.1 installed) highlight the problem encountered by users if the MIME type is not correctly set on the web server.
When clicking on a .air file in the browser, the following dialog is presented. Note the absence of AIR’s icon next to the file’s name (AIRDashboard.air)

ServerMIME1.png

The download list shows the download as failed:

ServerMIME3.png

and the application installation does not begin:

ServerMIME2.png

If the web server is configured with the correct MIME type, the same sequence is as follows:

ServerMIME01.png

 

ServerMIME02.png

 

ServerMIME03.png

If you administer a web server, please ensure that the correct MIME type has been added for .air files. If you are a user and encounter the problem highlighted above, do let your web server administrator know.

New Adobe AIR Marketplace

AdobeAIRMarketPlaceBanner.png
Adobe AIR Marketplace is a central resource that allows developers to make their applications available to millions of potential users and makes it easy for consumers to find them.
The new AIR marketplace was launched a few days ago and features a brand new look and several new features. Do check it out!
Related links:

Installation Issues with AIR 1.5 on Linux?

We’ve been scouting blog posts, tweets and news articles and it seems that some users are facing problems trying to install AIR apps with the 1.5 Linux release.
If you had installed an AIR app with the Beta release of AIR, there’s some cleanup required before you can use the app with AIR 1.5.
We’ve put up a FAQ about installation issues on the AIR team blog – If you’re unable to use your favorite application with AIR 1.5, do have a look. After the requisite cleanup, TweetDeck 0.20, twhirl 0.8.7 etc. work great!

twhirl_0_8_7.png

Badge Installation of AIR apps on Linux

Badge-installation is a mechanism to seamlessly install an AIR application (and the version of AIR required by the application, if not already installed) from the browser. A large number of applications provide this mechanism on their sites, instead of having users manually download AIR, and then the application.
For instance, the installation badge on the popular Twitter client Twhirl‘s site looks like this:

Twhirl Badge

Badge installation was not available as an installation mechanism with the Beta version of AIR on Linux. With the public release of AIR 1.5 on Linux, badge installation works on Linux as well. However, do note that this requires Flash Player version 10,0,15,3 to be installed – this version of the Flash Player has also been released today and can be downloaded from the Flash Player Download Page.
All applications on the Adobe AIR Marketplace also feature an installation badge.
Here’s a screencast of a badge installation of Twhirl:

Adobe AIR 1.5 for Linux is out!

AIR for Linux is now out of its Beta status. This is the first public release of AIR on Linux and we’re very excited about it!
This brings the Linux version in feature parity with the Windows and Mac versions.
The list of supported distributions (i.e. ones we exhaustively test on) is the same as that for the beta release on Labs:
    – Ubuntu 7.10
    – Fedora 8
    – openSUSE 10.3
Adobe AIR 1.5 SDK is also available now, to develop and debug AIR applications on Linux.
We’d like to know how this release works out for you – If you run into issues or have features to request for future releases, let us know.
Release notes provide more details about system requirements, installation instructions and known issues. User forums are available to discuss any problems you might be facing.
Go get some AIR and spread the word!
Ubuntu 8.04 running AIR apps