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Adobe ships Flash player for Linux

Adobe Systems releases Linux version of the latest Flash Player, keeping the open-source OS up with the Joneses.

Adobe Systems on Tuesday made good on a promise to release a Linux version of the latest Flash Player, software that lets Web browsers view multimedia information such as YouTube videos or animated advertisements.

The software is one ingredient needed to make Linux computers competitive with Windows and Mac OS X systems, for which Adobe released version 9 of the Flash Player in November. The new version will be distributed along with the software from the two major commercial Linux powers, Red Hat and Novell, Adobe said Wednesday.

Although the Flash Player itself is proprietary software, Adobe has made one significant component an open-source program, the ActionScript Virtual Machine that executes JavaScript programs on Web pages. The Mozilla Foundation, which oversees the Firefox Web browser, houses the open-source JavaScript project, called Tamarin.

Although the JavaScript engine is a major component, Adobe has not released other parts of the Flash Player, including its graphics rendering, networking and media handling engines, said Pam Deziel, Adobe's director of platform product marketing. "We don't currently have plans for making additional elements open-source," Deziel said.

Red Hat said it will include Flash Player 9 in its Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, due to ship February 28. And Novell will include Flash 9 on Service Pack 1 of Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10, along with Firefox 2.0, the company said.

Version 7 of the Flash Player was available for Linux, but Adobe, which acquired Flash developer Macromedia, skipped version 8. Flash Player 9 features include faster program execution, support for ActionScript 3 programs, and better text readability.

The Linux version lacks some features, such as a full-screen mode and automatic updates. It works with Firefox, Mozilla and SeaMonkey browsers, all part of the Mozilla project, but people using Opera, Konqueror or Netscape browsers should expect instabilities, Adobe said.

The Flash Player is a free download.