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Adobe restores Reader's Linux support

With version 7 of the PDF-viewing software, now available on Adobe's Web site, the company warms to Linux once again.

Adobe Systems on Tuesday restored Linux support in a new version of its PDF-viewing software.

As expected, the graphics software powerhouse made version 7 of Adobe Reader for Linux available on its Tuesday.

Adobe had included Linux support in version 5 of Reader, released in 2001, but skipped it in version 6, delivered in 2003. In January, it pledged to embrace Linux in version 7 and began testing the software.

In March, the company made a prerelease version available for download so that people in the Netherlands could meet their tax-filing deadlines. Then on Saturday, the San Jose, Calif.-based company told beta-testers that the Reader update had reached "GM" status, short for "golden master"--meaning it would be the final version for shipping.

Adobe Reader lets people read and print documents stored in PDF, or Portable Document Format. The new version also enables people to fill out forms electronically. Version 7 for Microsoft Windows shipped in November.

Adobe doesn't sell Linux versions of its major desktop titles, such as Photoshop and Illustrator, though it does for server products that automate publishing tasks and help manage documents. In 2004, Adobe cozied up to Linux on desktop computers, joining a Linux consortium and hiring staff for open-source work. The new Adobe Reader version is part of that warmer stance.

"The rate of adoption of the Linux operating system among enterprises worldwide--especially among government and financial services organizations--is increasing," Eugene Lee, vice president of marketing for Adobe's Intelligent Documents group, said in a statement. "Our customers were asking for Adobe Reader 7.0 on Linux as they begin to support core enterprise applications at the desktop."

Adobe's move is accompanied by endorsements from top Linux sellers Red Hat and Novell, which advocate Linux on personal computers. Microsoft's Windows dominates the PC operating system market, but some chinks in its armor have shown with the Firefox Web browser and desktop software suite.