Flatpak, the Linux app distribution format, has finally hit version 1.0, more than three years after its first public release.
Flatpak’s goal is to revolutionize the Linux ecosystem; this release is an important step towards that
As is befitting such a major milestone Flatpak 1.0 boasts ‘significant improvement in performance and reliability’, a swathe of bug fixes, and a number of new features.
“A lot of work has gone into Flatpak 1.0 and we’re confident that it’s ready for wider use. Flatpak’s goal has always been to revolutionize the Linux ecosystem and this is an important step towards that,” says Flatpak’s lead developer, Alexander Larsson.
Larsson also says that “Flatpak 1.0 is the new standard Flatpak version, and distributions are recommended to update to it as soon as possible.”
Flatpak 1.0 is a major milestone
Flatpak is a free, open-source and cross-distribution app packaging and distribution format. It allows software developers to package their apps for install on pretty much any Linux distribution out there.
The tech has proven a big hit with Linux desktop users, distro makers, and app developers alike.
Major distros like Linux Mint, Arch Linux and Fedora include Flatpak integration out-of-the-box, well-known software like GIMP, Spotify, Skype, LibreOffice and Firefox are readily available as Flatpak apps; and the number of apps available on Flathub, the quasi-official Flatpak app store, continues to grow.
Now, with the arrival of Flatpak 1.0.0, the technology is signposting itself as ready for the rough and tumble of every day computing, able to handle the stresses and expectations which come from major deployments and mainstream use.
Flatpak 1.0 Improvements & New Features
I’m a big fan of the way Snap app permissions are surfaced to users, so I am thrilled to see Flatpak add something similar.
Flatpak 1.0 will now ask you to approve app permissions when you install an app, rather than the firs time you run it. And if a future app update needs extra permissions Flatpak will, again, prompt you to approve or deny the request(s) as and when necessary.
This is a nice bit of control for users, allowing us to be firmly in control of what the apps we install can and can’t do. It’d be great to see GNOME Software make it easy to revoke app permissions for Flatpak apps on a per-app basis.
On the subject of app permissions, Flatpak apps can now ask for access to Bluetooth devices.
Some other notable improvements in Flatpak 1.0 include:
- Faster installation and updates
- Apps can be marked as end-of-life
- A new portal lets apps create sandboxes & restart themselves after updates
- Apps can export D-Bus services for all D-Bus names they own
- Support for OCI bundles has been updated to the latest specification
- Host TLS certificates are exposed to applications
- Apps can request access the host SSH agent to access remote servers, Git etc
- A new permission to grant X11 access if the user is running in a X11 session
- Peer-to-peer installation (via USB sticks or local network) support
There are also some new Flatpak commands to play with, including:
uninstall --unused— removes unused runtimes and extensions
repair— scan broken apps for errors, remove invalid objects, etc
The milestone also sees the sandboxed app packaging framework improves the integration of portals, introduce a a transaction API for install, update and uninstall operations (making it easier for GUI software managers to handle Flatpak apps), and start setting some bespoke HTTP headers when apps are installed (to make it easier for Flatpak repos to process download stats).