Flathub, for those of you who haven’t heard of it, is the quasi-official app store for apps packaged and distributed using Flatpak.
But it hasn’t been easy to find out which apps are available on it.
Hurrah! Big round of applause for the chaps and chapesses involved, I think!
But it gets even better.
The Flathub website also acts as a store front, offering one-click install for all apps listed.
Head over there yourself and click on the name of any app you want to install and, hey presto, a
flatpakref file downloads, ready to be opened in the Software app.
For users on Fedora, Arch, Mageia and OpenSUSE that click is pretty much all that’s required to install a Flatpak app from Flathub.
But on Ubuntu? Well, that’s a little more complicated.
Ubuntu Hates Flatpak (But Not Really)
Ubuntu doesn’t ship with Flatpak installed. It also doesn’t include the Flatpak plugin that allows the ‘one-click’ install of repos and apps like I mention above.
Why? Well, as you might’ve guessed from the Ubuntu team’s recent decision to only promote Snap apps in Ubuntu Software, they really want you to use their Flatpak alternative, Snappy (or Snaps. I never know which it is).
But it’s up to you what you use. If you want to install the latest versions of your favourite apps as Flatpak on Ubuntu, you diggity-dang well can!
Just open up a new Terminal window, add the official Flatpak PPA (Ubuntu doesn’t keep Flatpak up-to-date in its repos, and for the best experience you will want the latest version), and install both Flatpak and the Flatpak plugin for Ubuntu Software.
In theory that should be all you need to click an app on the Flathub website, and see a little prompt to open in the Software app, ready to install:
Notice I said ‘in theory‘?
That’s because, on my own desktop at least, running Ubuntu 17.10, something, somewhere along the line, doesn’t want to play ball.
Flatpak ref files do open up in Ubuntu Software as expected. I can both see and click on the install button — but despite having added the Flathub repo manually beforehand (like a total dork) I can’t get an actual app from an actual flatpak ref file to do… Well, anything:
For now I’ll stick to the CLI method I use in my ‘7 Flatpak apps you can install from Flathub‘ article as installing Flatpak apps from Flathub via the command-line does still work.
But I won’t lie: the simplicity of being able to install Flatpak apps with a click is… It’s delicious.
Those of you reading from an OS where all of this stuff does work as intended, go ahead and enjoy it.
Oh, and come back here to share a few words about how you find the experience!