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Flatpak packages from end-user perspective

kovarpavel profile image Pavel Kovar ・2 min read

In this post, I would like write few words about package format for Linux based operating systems Flatpak, which is from my point of view one of the best thing which was introduced into Linux ecosystem in last few years. I will not go into the technical details of the format itself, rather then I would like to focus on how good is Flatpak in terms of practical usage of end-users.

In almost every Linux distribution, we always have some package manager which we usually use for installation and update software for the particular distribution. Packages are maintained by distribution's developers and historically users rely on packages in the repository of distribution as the only way how to get the software (of course, except you can compile software from source code). The problem which happened to me several times in the past was, that I would like to have the latest major version of my favorite application, but in distribution's repository was the older version. This is exactly the situation that Flatpak solved for me.

Flatpak offers an easy way how to install the latest version of applications on your distribution (in case of that distribution support Flatpak, more https://www.flatpak.org/setup/). Application in Flatpak format doesn't rely on versions of libraries in your current Linux distributions and brings all it needs itself. Updates are handled by the application's creators and not by distribution maintainers, so you are getting all new features when they are developed. This is also less headache for developers because they will pack the application once and it will run on any distribution.

Currently, the easiest way how to find applications in Flatpak format is to look and Flathub(https://flathub.org/home), which is the repository where any developer can publish applications. You can browse applications by category and find there also description and screenshots from applications.

If you want to use Flatpak on your distribution of choice, just install flatpak package and add the Flathub repository. Some distributions have Flatpak support implemented out of the box like Fedora, Linux Mint or Elementary OS.

I can imagine, that a lot of core Linux users (even I'm one of them) can probably find some technical issues or other disadvantages, but I tried to explain Flatpak in positive way to motivate users (especially beginners) to try this and see the benefits. Also, there are other alternatives like Snap or AppImages, but from my personal point of view, Flatpak is currently the best solution how to easily install new applications into my system.

Discussion (2)

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bhupesh profile image
Bhupesh Varshney 👾

Seriously I agree with you but I don't understand why a lot of people in the Linux ecosystem are against this
I have seen how people package things for distributions & its a pain in the a** from a developer perspective

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kovarpavel profile image
Pavel Kovar Author

Fully agree, I tried to maintain one application in past (RPM package) and it was so difficult. People who do not like this mostly core sysadmins who are afraid about security and stability (at least from my experience)