Adobe on Linux

I agree, maybe I should elaborate that call to action a bit more. I’ve been a Windows user since Windows 3.1x (Windows 3.11 for Workgroups). I moved on to Windows ‘95, ‘98, Me (but like most of you, this version of Windows was a disaster), 2000, XP, Vista, 7. I have a copy of Windows 8 somewhere but I’m waiting for the patch to get the old start menu back before I even come near it.

Somewhere in college (graphic design) I got into contact with an iMac G4. I had been using Photoshop (5.5) before but it was more or less to just fool around instead of doing proper graphical work. I learned to work on both platforms (OS X and Windows) with the these tools of the trade (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc.)

In a later period I took an interest in motion so I learned to use After Effects and Premiere as well. In the meantime I was studying “information management and support” in Mechelen (Belgium). So I was more or less back to Windows but still improved upon my graphical skills with most Adobe packages.

I started doing photography as well, so I added Aperture (OS X only) and later Lightroom to the Adobe stack as well. I’ve been using both platforms (Windows and OS X) side-by-side for several years. From a professional point of view however, I started working with Linux as well. You see, my current profession includes front end web development but I’m actually (from a background perspective) a so called “back end developer” – server side that is (PHP). Since most hosting servers for PHP are running Linux, it’s more or less logical that you use the same subsystem so you can mimic production environments as close as possible.

OS X is not Linux

I hear you yelling “why bother? OS X is Linux” – I don’t agree. While it might look more or less the same. BSD, on which OS X is based, is not linux. For a comparison between BSD and Linux, I’d like to point you to an article on TechRepublic. The differences become more apparent when you try to install stuff that was made for Linux in Mac OS X – often times thinks break because of certain dependencies are missing. There are systems available like HomeBrew, a package manager for OS X, but it’s still not the same as APT in Debian for instance.

Adobe, make yourself available on Linux

Since I more or less made the switch to Linux, I still need Windows or OS X for one thing and one thing only: Adobe products. It’s actually a sad situation. Because of Adobe’s policy, I’m forced to not only pay for their products, but also buy a license for an operating system I wouldn’t use if their products were available for linux in the first place.

There’s no market for Adobe products on Linux

That’s the most often heard argument from Adobe as to why they won’t port their products to Linux. Shame on you Adobe. I find it quite ignorant. The reason why they don’t believe there’s a market is that in their opinion, Linux users don’t want to pay for software which is absolute nonsense. Everyone is willing to pay for decent software, even if it’s proprietary. They apparently forgot that the OS X user market was smaller than the Windows market and even up until version 2.5 of Photoshop, it was only available for the Macintosh.

Adobe, hear me on this one. Because you can save a lot of money on free software on the Linux platform, you actually have more budget / head room to spend on software you want or need for a day to day task. Take this as an example. Because I can use Linux, free of charge, I save about 200 euros on a Windows license. Guess what? I can buy a Lightroom license instead! The money isn’t lost on some OS costs, so I can spend it on products that matter to me.

So please, make Adobe on Linux possible. I’m sure there are lots of people in the same boat as me – willing to make a complete transition to Linux, only if the Adobe suite was available as a native installation package.


I know there are “alternatives”. There are vector drawing packages available on Linux, there is GIMP and Darktable but if you have to be honest, if you are a long time Photoshop user, these can be hardly called alternatives. The same for InDesign, Premiere or After Effects.

Virtualized environment

You could run Windows in a virtual environment using VirtualBox for instance. But since most packages use graphics card acceleration, it becomes really slow inside VirtualBox (running a Windows version for which you had to pay again).

Wine is lovely. It lets you install and run Windows applications in Linux – but it isn’t working for most Adobe products. So that’s a no go as well.

Dual boot

You can have best of both worlds and create a dual boot system. One with Windows, to run your Adobe suite (and other Windows tools) and boot into Linux when you need to work on some website code. The problem is that while you work on some website code and need some graphics work done, you have to reboot the system into another OS, make your changes and reboot into Linux to continue development. Not very efficient.

So for now I work with all the tools inside OS X – as I think it offers best of both worlds and I just live with the compromises I have to make. But it’s not an ideal situation.