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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Wed, 11 Jun 2014

Getting Adobe Digital Editions working under Wine in Linux (specifically Fedora 20)

I want to borrow books via the Los Angeles Public Library's Axis 360 service, which won't give you their DRM-laden ebooks without use of the Adobe Digital Editions software to take the small file you download (normally called URLLink.acsm) and use it as a kind of key to download the longer .epub book file.

And Adobe Digital Editions is not available for Linux.

But it can be installed with Wine, the Windows compatibility layer for Linux systems.

I already have Wine installed on my Fedora Linux system so I can use the excellent IrfanView image editor that's written for Windows. While instructions on the installation of Wine might be useful, I don't want to go there for the purposes of this post. I'll just say that you should use your distro's package manager to install Wine, and in this particular instance, the version of Wine available in your distro's repositories should be sufficient. One thing I will tell you: Make sure you also install wine-mono (or whatever the package is in your system that includes the Windows version of Mono in Wine).

Back to installing Adobe Digital Editions in Linux via Wine.

A few people reported problems (a very few did not) with version 2.x. A few offered easy-to-byzantine workarounds to make Adobe Digital Editions 2.x work in Linux.

None of that worked for me.

So I followed the advice of Mr. Alphaville, used his download of Adobe Digital Editions 1.7, and was up and running with a working application in a few minutes.

You are prompted at some point after installing Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) to either create an Adobe account or use the one you already have.

I already had an Adobe account, so I used that login and password and was quickly swimmming in the world of DRM-ed ebooks.

Wait, there's a problem

Huge problem. The DRM'd epub files that Axis360 puts out aren't compatible with the Amazon Kindle.

Sure, I could break the DRM and use Calibre to convert the files. But I don't want to do that. I'd rather get the books for the alloted loan period and have them somewhat gracefully disappear when the loan is up.

So for Kindle, I'll stick with the Los Angeles Public Library's Overdrive system.

And for those titles from LAPL's instance of Axis360, I guess I'll just read them in Adobe Digital Editions via Wine.

Editorial comment: It's not like the Amazon Kindle is some obscure device. It dominates the ebook market. Axis360 basically tells users of the dominant ebook readers to take a long walk off a short pier.

Kindle Fire tablets, which are mostly-fledged Android devices, can access this content with the Blio or Bluefire apps.

But non-Fire Kindles (the cheap, not-a-tablet kind) get nothing. I guess that's what Overdrive is for.