Some great news for fans of distro-agnostic app distribution: Firefox Developer Edition is now available to install as a Flatpak!
Yup, the dev-friendly flavour of the venerable open-source browser is available to install messing around with installers, RPMs or unpacking zip files to double-click on binaries tucked up inside.
“It’s an unofficial build for testing purposes, not provided by Mozilla. We’d like to work with Mozilla, so that it can eventually be adopted by the Mozilla project and you can get Firefox Flatpaks directly from the source,” Red Hat Desktop Engineer Jiří Eischmann says of the work.
As this is more of a proof-of-concept firstpass than a Firefox DE is not currently sandboxed. It also has full access to your home directory.
Eischmann says he hopes to see a sandboxed Firefox appear down the line, and “experiment how well Firefox can handle sandboxing and what needs to be done to assure the expected user experience”.
Install Firefox Developer Edition Flatpak
There are a few hoops to jump through to get Firefox Developer Edition installed. Flatpak is a new and still maturing distribution framework, and is far from frictionless (especially on Ubuntu).
But — optimistic smile here — as feats goes, it’s awesome to see such a big-name app being used to showcase/kick the tyres on this next-gen app distribution technology.
You can read (a lot) more about how the browser came to be packaged — flatpak’d? —on Eischmann’s blog. You can also follow steps to install Firefox DE Flatpak on your Linux distro of choice, though ¹Ubuntu users also need to add the Flatpak PPA too as it isn’t shipped in the archives.
Let us know how you get on, and what other apps you’d like to see Flatpak’d!