Adobe has released Flash Player 9 for Linux, allowing users of the open-source operating system to create or use multimedia applications with the latest version of Flash.

The launch comes six months after the Adobe released versions for Windows and Mac OS X.

Version 9 of the Flash Player runs scripts up to 10 times faster than previous versions, and also allows programmers to write portable applications exploiting more of the capabilities of Adobe's Flex 2 development platform, the company said Wednesday.

The player's arrival on the Linux platform will mean Web site developers exploiting the latest Flash features can be sure of reaching the small percentage of Web surfers running Linux on their desktop.

It will also give site developers using Linux access to more of the potential of Adobe's rich Internet application development environment, Flex 2, the company said.

With Flex, Adobe allows developers to build rich graphical applications that obtain data from a server and process it for presentation on the client or that can run in stand-alone mode on the desktop. The Flex platform includes server components for extracting data from business applications such as ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems and, on the client side, integrates with the more recent versions of the Flash player.

Flash Player 9 for Linux can be downloaded for free from Adobe's Web site.

Red Hat and Novellplan to bundle the new player with their distributions of Linux later this year, Adobe said.

Adobe recently contributed some of the code for its ActionScript Virtual Machine 2, the engine that interprets the scripts stored in Flash files, to a project hosted by the Mozilla Foundation. That project, Tamarin, aims to develop an open-source, standards-based, multiplatform engine for interpreting JavaScript, Adobe's ActionScript or other languages based on the ECMAscript standard, making it easier for browser developers to include support for rich scripting applications.