Adobe Eyes Linux Desktop Strategy

Updated: Open-source consortium membership and job openings point to a growing interest in Linux for the software maker.

Signs are pointing to a growing interest in desktop Linux and open-source software at Adobe Systems Inc., the maker of popular imaging and graphics software and the standard-bearer of PDF.

While details of its Linux and open-source plans remain scarce, the San Jose, Calif., company has joined a major Linux-advocacy group and is hiring engineering and business development employees focused on desktop Linux.

An Adobe spokesperson on Thursday confirmed that Adobe joined the Open Source Development Labs in July.

OSDL, based in Beaverton, Ore., is the home of Linux creator Linus Torvalds. The non-profit group focuses on increasing enterprise adoption of Linux and runs testing facilities. Its founding members include computing heavyweights such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Intel Corp.

Also this week, two job postings have surfaced on the companys Web site that point to more aggressive Linux plans at Adobe.

One opening is for a director of Linux market development, who would examine desktop Linux and open-source strategies and work with leading Linux distributors.

The other posting hints at plans for Adobe to run open-source projects itself. It is for a senior computer scientist/Linux desktop architect in Adobes platform strategy group. Along with guiding Adobes desktop Linux work, the person would "become a maintainer and/or architect for one or more Adobe-sponsored open source projects," the job posting stated.

In an interview Thursday, Pam Deziel, Adobes director of product marketing for Acrobat, said she was not aware of Adobe-specific open-source projects but that the company was involved in OSDL projects.

She downplayed indications of a major Linux and open-source shift at Adobe.

"What were trying to do is to make sure we have a good picture and roadmap for the Linux market overall," Deziel said. "Right now, what we see is a bigger business opportunity on the server side, but were looking to hire resources to keep abreast of Linux market overall."

News of Adobes OSDL membership and Linux-oriented job postings were first reported on CNET

Adobes enterprise business offers Linux versions of many of its server products under its LiveCycle brand, which launched in June. Deziel said Adobes Intelligent Document Platform server products are moving under the LiveCycle umbrella and will support Linux, but she did not provide a timetable for the move.

Interest and demand for Linux on the desktop is growing, said IT analyst Amy Wohl, who was not surprised that Adobe could be working on a firmer Linux strategy.

"Theres enough activity at the desktop level that ISVs have to start thinking about what they want to do," said Wohl, president of Wohl Associates, in Narberth, Pa.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read about Red Hats Linux desktop plans.

Adobe, for the most part, has not embraced Linux for its desktop software products, such as popular imaging, graphics and design products like Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Deziel said the business opportunity for Adobe desktop products on Linux does not yet exist and that the opportunity in the future is "tough to predict."

For now, Adobe may still view the desktop Linux market as too young to port its desktop software to Linux, Wohl said. But the company could find opportunities in emerging markets for Linux desktop software such as overseas and in the education field, she said.

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