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Installing Adobe AIR and Balsamiq Mockups on 64-Bit GNU/Linux

I've been using GNU/Linux as my sole desktop OS for years now, and frankly I don't miss anything whatsoever from other operating systems. This post isn't to have that old debate yet again so I'm just offering this up as a bit of a backdrop for what follows. For 99.999% of what I do I simply don't need another OS, and on the exceedingly rare occasion when I do need to do something in Windows I have a VirtualBox VM I can use, but I'd be surprised if I have to launch my Windows VM more than a few times a year.

Recently I've become rather enamored with Balsamiq Mockups, which is a tool I've know about for a while and even tinkered around with, but for some reason it wasn't until a couple of weeks ago that the real power of Balsamiq hit me in the face. Luckily Balsamiq runs on Adobe AIR so rather than having to fire up a Windows VM to use it, in theory it'll run on GNU/Linux the same as it does on any OS.

For 32-bit systems this is probably true, but I'm running 64-bit GNU/Linux, specifically (as of last weekend) LinuxMint. (Total tangent here, but LinuxMint is a really nice Ubuntu/Debian derivative and since I don't at all care for the direction Ubuntu is taking with their UI I decided to install LinuxMint on my System76 Serval Pro since I'd been really liking it on my netbook.)

Adobe doesn't have a 64-bit version of AIR available for GNU/Linux, but they do have a 32-bit version available that is supposed to work with a few additional steps. When I tried this a couple of weeks ago the first set of instructions I found on Adobe's web site didn't work (not surprisingly since they're very outdated at this point), and there are lots of differing methods of how to do this on blogs, etc., but I took another run at it today and had better luck this time.

I started with these instructions on the Adobe web site but modified slightly (actually just didn't need to do some of the steps) so I thought I'd offer yet another differing opinion of how to get this working. Note that this worked for me on 64-bit LinuxMint, but my strong suspicion would be it will work on Ubuntu and other Debian-based distros as well.

  1. Download the BIN version of the AIR installer. (Yes, even though we're on a Debian-based distro, we want the BIN version.)

  2. Open a terminal, navigate to the directory where you downloaded the AIR installer, and do this:
    chmod +x ./AdobeAIRInstaller.bin

  3. Download getlibs

  4. Again in a terminal, navigate to the directory where you downloaded getlibs and do this:
    sudo dpkg -i getlibs-all.deb

  5. If you're following along in the Adobe instructions from earlier, you do not need to run the two getlibs commands. They result in a "no suitable library for installation" or something along those lines.

  6. Run the Adobe AIR installer from your terminal:

  7. You should see a GUI window pop up and you can click through the installer from there. Barring any errors at the end of this process you'll have AIR installed.

Since what got me on this topic was Balsamiq, let's go over the couple of quirks to getting that installed.

  1. The "Install Mockups" button doesn't work (or at least didn't for me) on GNU/Linux (maybe that's a known issue with AIR for GNU/Linux), so download the "Linux 64-bit" version under "Direct Links" on the Balsamiq downloads page

  2. With the .deb package downloaded, you can install that either from a terminal or from the Software Manager (i.e. right-click the .deb file and choose "Open with GDebi Package Installer")

  3. This installs Balsamiq and on LinuxMint creates a launcher under "Accessories." The launcher doesn't work as is, so I just launch from a terminal:
    /opt/'Balsamiq Mockups'/bin/'Balsamiq Mockups'

The odd thing is this is the exact command the launcher has, so I suspect (totally guessing based on how Java stuff works with launchers) that for some reason the launcher doesn't see the AIR libraries it needs to launch successfully and some reference needs to be added to the launcher. I'm not sure how to address that in the same fashion you do with the -vm argument for things like Eclipse. I saw some info on a two-year old blog post that might still be relevant but I didn't test yet, and it may be as simple as creating a shell script that calls the Balsamiq launcher and having the GUI launcher point to that instead of pointing to Balsamiq directly. Stuff to dig into some other time, but if anyone knows the solution please share in the comments.

With that I am happily running Balsamiq on 64-bit GNU/Linux. One less reason to launch my Windows VM.


Valerie Liberty said…
Matt, Thanks so much for these instructions. Would you please send me a note off line? I'd like to email with you directly.
Matthew Woodward said…
Thanks Val--I'll send you an email shortly.
Mike Babb said…
Very helpful post, thank you!
stevenhamilton said…
Hi Matt,I am failing at step 7 on Ubuntu 11.10. ./AdobeAirInstaller.bin just pauses for a second at the command line and then nothing happens; no popup GUI window or anything. When I try to install Balsamiq the Software Center just says "Dependency is not satisfiable: adobeiar (>- Any ideas or suggestions?Thanks!
Matthew Woodward said…
Unfortunately the landscape has changed quite a bit since I first posted this, and Adobe is no longer developing or supporting AIR on Linux: And if you go to this URL on a Linux machine you'll get the message "Adobe AIR for Linux is no longer supported" with a link to old versions. Short answer is if it doesn't work, other than googling to see if someone has a solution you're more or less out of luck. Also they stopped the Linux version at 2.6 so if an app requires 2.7 you'll never be able to run it on Linux. I'll try to give it a shot again later but I gave up on it a while ago since I know it's no longer supported.
stevenhamilton said…
Bummer! I was hoping to not have to run Windows in a VM for Balsamiq. I'll give Wine a shot first and see if that works.
stevenhamilton said…
It seems to work fine under Wine so I'll go with that for now
Matthew Woodward said…
Ah, good to know--thanks!
Lars said…
Just an FYO - the "getlibs" link is broken - suspended website. Since getlibs isn't supported anymore is this still the best way to run Adobe AIR on Linux?
Matt Woodward said…
I gave up on this long ago. If I really need to use Balsamiq I use it in a Windows VM. I don't see AIR on Linux being at all viable now or in the future.
Unknown said…
Worked for me on Linux Mint 12 x 64, in fact it was even easier. Looking forward to using Mockups. Thanks for a good, clear tut.
Manish Lalwani said…
Use this link for the installation it has all the required steps and links, it worked for me, enjoy!!!
Matt Woodward said…
Cool -- thanks for the info.
Nick Kloski said…
Couple of things:

Install on Mint 14 64-bit fails with keyring error...solution is at:

...also, install needs the getlibs which I found at:

Matt Woodward said…
Thanks -- this is definitely a moving target so I really appreciate the updates.
Nora said…
I followed these instructions and got an error after running ./AdobeAIRInstaller.bin. Here's the error: Gtk WARNING **: cannot open display. An answer to a question about this on AksUbuntu (a StackExchange site) has the solution.
Ben said…
Hi Matt,

Just wanted to let you know that I have successfully installed Balsamiq on Ubuntu 13.04 (64 bit). Here's how:

1. Follow these instructions to install Adobe Air: Make sure you execute the Air .bin file using 'sudo' (I also had to use the 'LD_LIBRARY_PATH' in the execution command due to an error, its in the instructions).

2. Download the Balsamiq 64 bit .deb here:

3. Install the .deb through the Software manager. And when you run the program after installation you should get an Adobe Air notice. Accept the notice, and Balsamiq will run.

I hope this helps!
Matt Woodward said…
Thanks for the update! I don't use Balsamiq as much as I used to but nice to know it's doable. Appreciate you sharing.
Rick Rakin said…
Thank you!!
Worked like a charm on 64bit Ubuntu 12.04. LD_LIBRARY_PATH didn't work for me, but creating symbolic links did.
To fix de bug on shortcut menu:
1. execute in terminal: sudo gedit balsamiqmockupsfordesktop.ede15cf69e11f7f7d45b5430c7d37cc6c3545e3c.1.desktop
2. Change the line 5
From: Exec=/opt'/'Balsamiq Mockups'/bin/'Balsamiq Mockups
To: Exec=/opt/"Balsamiq Mockups"/bin/"Balsamiq Mockups" .

Sorry for my english!

I using linux Mint 16 64bits!
Matt Woodward said…
Thanks for the additional info!

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