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Adobe about to release Linux-friendly Reader

Final version 7 of the PDF-viewing software for Linux will be released Tuesday, has learned.

Adobe Systems will restore Linux support for its PDF-viewing software with a version 7 release this week, CNET has learned.

In March, Adobe made a prerelease version of Reader for Linux available for download so that citizens in the Netherlands could meet their tax-filing deadlines. Now the final version of the 7.0 update is ready, Adobe confirmed on Monday.

The graphics software powerhouse said it plans to announce version 7 for Linux and make it available on its on Tuesday. (Version 7.0 for Microsoft Windows shipped in November 2004.) Adobe Reader lets people read and print documents stored in PDF, or Portable Document Format, and the new version also enables people to fill out forms electronically.

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."

Unsurprisingly, 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.

Adobe 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 beta testing the software.

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.