Smoothwall Firewall project

Saturday 14 February 2009

Floating with Abobe Air on Linux in the Cloud

As I'm sure you already know, cloud computing and new client software that will take advantage of our applications moving to the cloud are coming at us thick and fast. We have Google Gears offering us Google apps when we are not connected to the web, AJAX that is being used by just about every to offer richer applications. We have Mozilla Prism, which is based on their Webrunner technology and now Adobe Air. I also believe Microsoft have an offering with Silverlight, but as it is not cross platform I won't be able to use it. There is a Linux port called Moonlight, but I hate products that are not designed from the ground up to be cross platform, that is very anti web.

As a recent convert to using twitter (@codfather), I started to look around for clients that offered more functionality than just the bog standard web interface. I found a great new web application call tweetdeck. Now this requires Adobe Air to use, as it is cross platform development environment, very much like Java, but designed for the next generation of web applications.

Installing this onto Linux is very straight forward, the instructions on their web site are great, all you need to do is do the following:

1) Download the binary installation program to your home directory by clicking on the link
2) Open a terminal and make the binary file executable - good old Linux security
3) Run the Binary

nick@nick-laptop:~$ chmod +x AdobeAIRInstaller.bin
nick@nick-laptop:~$ ./AdobeAIRInstaller.bin

Once you have done this very simple operation, the installation process is done through a point and click installer.Once it has been installed, you will have two new application links in your Gnome Applications --> Accessories menu bar.

Installing applications couldn't be easier, you just identify an Adobe Air application you want to install in Firefox, and just click on it. They all have a .air extension, and firefox will tell you it's an Air application and will offer to open it with the Adobe Air installer. Give this a go by installing tweetdeck.

I have installed this on all my laptops and desktops to give it a good test and to try and shake down any issues. I'm currently using it on my Eeepc with Eeebuntu installed as I type this. Now a twitter friend of mine , @glynmoody, has found some potential memory hogging, but I haven't seen this as of yet.

I would definitely recommend giving it a go and trying out the many applications that are available for it on the Adobe Air web site , but also out on the web.

I suspect we have not seen all the potential that this new web development has to offer yet, but the initial products are good enough for us start enjoying them.


Anonymous said...

There is at least the issue that - for installing this piece of software - allways the security policy is broken by asking for your "su" passwort, installing the software to /opt instead of /home/$user, there is no update mechanism for the air package and: still no *.deb file (i am a purist) available :). So even uninstalling this is harder than "normal" and it takes an semi-expert level to do so.

Codfather said...

Good points Michael, though when you run the installation applications, it asks you to authenticate via Ubuntu's built in mechanism. I also like the fact you have change the execute rights on the file to even start.

I would also like to see a .deb, but I suspect this will be down to licensing as normal. It could be added to Ubuntu's third party repositories, and I know that Adobe are looking to open source more of their code. Agreed un-installing will be a PITA, but as I like what I'm seeing at the moment, I'm not too worried about that yet.

Anonymous said...

AIR (and AIR apps) are uninstallable using dpkg, apt-get or Synaptic, just like everything else. I think "adobeair1.0" is the name of the package (even for AIR 1.5), so "apt-get remove adobeair1.0" should work normally. As for the apps: every AIR app is treated as an installed package that can be removed normally. For tweetdeck, for example, you could type "apt-get remove tweetdeck" and hit tab to get the package name via command-line completion. Or just use Synaptic to search for and uninstall the package.

I'm not sure why (some) AIR apps needing sudo privileges means that the security policy is broken? It just means that those apps are storing passwords (e.g., your twitter auth) and using the Ubuntu keyring to do that.