First Flash 11 beta brings 64-bit support to Linux

Adobe logoAdobe has released the first beta of Flash 11, a major update of the rich media browser plug-in. A significant change in this version of Flash is the availability of 64-bit builds for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.

The long-overdue delivery of 64-bit support is a major milestone for Adobe. The company first demonstrated an experimental 64-bit Flash plug-in prototype in 2008 and vowed to eventually deliver support for the x64 architecture across all of the major desktop operating systems. The plan had to take a backseat, however, as Adobe's focus shifted to other priorities. Improving Flash's performance and reliability on mobile devices has consumed much of the company's attention over the past year.

Adobe dropped its previous experimental 64-bit Flash plug-in roughly a year ago, citing the need for significant architectural changes. At the time, we joked that Flash's 64-bit support might finally land at about the same time as Duke Nukem Forever. It's sort of funny how that worked out. Unlike Duke's less-than-triumphant return, however, the new 64-bit Flash plugin actually lives up to its promise.

Linux users have typically had to rely on frameworks like nspluginwrapper to use the 32-bit Flash plug-in in a 64-bit browser. Due to native 64-bit support, the new beta version of the Flash plug-in can be used without a shim. We briefly tested it on Ubuntu 11.04 in the Firefox Web browser. In light of Adobe's controversial decision to discontinue Adobe AIR on the Linux platform, it's a bit surprising that it is treating the operating system as a first-class citizen with 64-bit support in Flash 11.

In addition to 64-bit support, the new plug-in also introduces the new Stage3D APIs—Adobe's Molehill project—which provides hardware-accelerated 3D rendering capabilities in the same vein as WebGL. The runtime has also gained improved JSON handling and some technical improvements that make garbage collection less intrusive. Another nice addition is support for H.264 encoding of real-time video streams captured from the user's camera—offering better compression for video chat and other similar kinds of applications.

The plug-in is available for download from Adobe's website in 32-bit and 64-bit flavors. Adobe warns, however, that the beta is still a work in progress and not intended for serious day-to-day use. I didn't encounter any serious problems during my brief test of the plugin.

For more details, you can refer to the official announcement in the Adobe Flash Player Team blog.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Adobe, Adobe Flash

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