Impatient Linux users will have to wait till the end of the year for even a preview release of Adobe's Flash Player 9.
The company's lead Flash for Linux engineer, Mike Melanson , reported this week in his blog that Adobe won't release any alpha versions of its Flash port, holding out instead for a full-featured beta scheduled for release sometime late this year.
Adobe recently released a major Flash overhaul, version 9, for Windows and Macintosh clients. For Linux users, the release lengthened the Flash gap between them and other users: Adobe skipped Flash Player 8 for Linux and hasn't released a Linux update since mid-2004. Because Flash is not fully backward-compatible, Web content developed for the newer Flash players often won't run in version 7, the most current Linux version. Adobe's market research shows that 86 percent of U.S. computer users are able to view Flash 8 content.
"I have to question a cross-platform strategy that has a bias against one platform," RedMonk analyst Stephen O'Grady, a Linux user, gripped in his blog. The lack of a modern Flash player leaves him unable to view content on a number of Web sites, including major destinations like ESPN.com.
An Adobe spokesman said the company expects a full release of Flash Player 9 for Linux in early 2007. Because of the "short" cycle between Flash Player 8 and 9 -- ten months -- Adobe opted to skip version 8 for Linux and move directly to version 9, he said.
Melanson's blog tracks the day-to-day progress and decisions Adobe is making on Flash for Linux. A full-time Linux user since 1999, Melanson shares the frustration of his comrades about Adobe's Linux lag.
"In September, 2005, I happened [across a blog that] mentioned in passing that Macromedia was looking for someone to port Flash Player to Linux. I applied for the job and now here I am," he posted.
"When I started at Adobe, I found out that there is a shadow cabal of engineers that very much want to see the current Flash Player run on Linux, and would even try their hand with the current codebase from time to time. But there are only so many hacking hours in the day."