Q: Why couldn't the little Goth kid sleep? A: He was afraid of the light.

"Why won't Adobe/Macromedia update Flash for Linux, dammit?"

Date/Time Permalink: 07/20/06 05:44:47 pm
Category: General

A frequently-asked question of the FOSS community. Here's my take, my *theory*, if you will, as to why:

There's no Macromedia in it. It's Adobe Flash; Adobe bought it outright. Try to imagine a unit of measure to quantify how much Bill Gates hates Linux. Now subtract 0.00001 from that. That's how much Adobe hates Linux. That's why.

Only reason I could think of is that we have the Linux image editing tools, and the superior user skillset on Linux (Hollywood movies are NOT made on Photoshop) so the friendlier they are to Linux, the more money they think they'd lose on their products. A completely irrational view, as anybody attached to Adobe products would be lost at sea using Linux eqivalents, because you don't learn a damn thing pressing buttons to make software draw pictures for you. Anybody who can use Linux image tools already uses Linux image tools; the rest are holding out for Adobe because they refuse to tarnish their pristine minds with learning new things. So Adobe users coming to Linux would flock to Adobe if it were ported to Linux just like Windows users going on to Linux flock to Wine.

Adobe's products are not in competition with Linux programs any more than a set of legos is in competition with the hardware store. We're in different businesses, and Linux users would love Adobe tinker toys on their platform along with the professional power tools we already have; they're just too trivial for anybody in the FOSS community to bother building. That could be the only thing there is left to complain about in FOSS: all tools, no toys. §

Look to Google's Picasa for an example of how simple it is to port a proprietary image editing tool to Linux. Google will eat Adobe's lunch on Linux, while Adobe sits there having kidney stones about it next to Microsoft. Ten years later when their stock is tanking, Adobe will be kissing FOSS' butt opening their source and going "We loved free software the whole time!", just like Sun is doing now with Java.

But try explaining all that to them. Hell, you can't say it on Digg without getting scored about -5. Anyway, that's why.

§ And what a bogus choice that is! Either play once at Disneyland, but they lock you in all night and you have to get the mouse tattooed on your ass and end up their slave forever, or get your freedom at the cost of never again hearing a song, seeing a color, or tasting anything but bread and water. THAT, my friends, is the whole reason I hate proprietary software with every fibre of my being; because we're having that choice forced on us. The fact that the stupid bastards don't realize is that the artists and creative people among us are the ones who love freedom the very most of all. We're seeing that now, with Creative Commons licensed art and open source movies and musicians who would rather give their music away for free on PirateBay than accept any of the RIAA's filthy blood-money. We're seeing it in the heroic developers who are building a BETTER Magic Kingdom outside the prison walls. I suppose one of us will eventually have to build our own web-media SVG animation tool alternative to Flash as well. What, like it's rocket-science? It could darn near be an Inkscape plugin pretty soon. Flash came out in 1996 - how hard to hack could it be? And we'll have to do it with the trolls biting our ankles all the while, and then we'll succeed like always. But in the very end, we'll just see who's left on what side of the prison walls with the bread and water...

UPDATE 7/21/06 2300: Lo, a day later, it comes to pass that Adobe throws in the towel for Flash 9 on Linux as well as Flash 8. All the more reason to throw our weight behind the mighty Gnash, the GNU replacement for Adobe's Flash. So, hey, Adobe, eat chain.

UPDATE - year 2007 Adobe finally quit dragging their feet and put a Flash 9 out there for Linux. Too little, too late; they get no forgiveness from me. If we had to lobby and mob and protest and threaten to get it, it's the same thing as if we were denied it. I hasten to add: this is just the player. The editor, along with the entire canon of proprietary Adobe software, remains out of reach. Well, if Sun can put Java out as GPL for the masses, then Adobe can do the same with Flash. As for me, I prefer Java to Flash, and continue to advocate abandoning Adobe now, for its unfriendly, monopolistic business practices and hostility to technology freedom. There's nothing I see in Flash that can't be done in Java anyway (and usually better!).

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