Google is bringing the fruits of its cross-platform app making framework Flutter to Linux desktops with help of Canonical no less.
Over 500,000 developers already use Flutter, Google’s open source UI framework, to building mobile apps, and tech is often pitched as an alternative to React Native.
But while the Flutter SDK has been available on Linux to create apps for other platforms it wasn’t possible to build desktop Linux apps.
That changes today.
Build Linux Apps with Flutter
“[We] are happy to jointly announce the availability of the Linux alpha for Flutter alongside Canonical, the publisher of Ubuntu, the world’s most popular desktop Linux distribution,” writes Google’s Chris Sells in a blog post.
Google said last year that it wanted to bring Flutter build software to desktop platforms. And with Ubuntu the go-to OS for mobile app creation (including ones built using the Flutter SDK) there’s much merit in allowing devs to use the software to make apps for the underlying platform too.
But don’t fear some kind of Frankenstein mobile fudge; Flutter aims to be a first-class citizen on Linux. Google says it has done ‘extensive refactoring’ to the engine to support, power, and provide native desktop experiences.
While Dart, the programming language that underpins the toolkit, is now able to take advantage of desktop integration features.
Canonical investing heavily
Canonical is also putting a team of developers to work on the tech alongside Google’s own engineers. The company says it will collaborate with Google to “improve Linux support and maintain feature parity with the other supported platforms”.
What makes Flutter so popular? Well, the tech allows devs to code an app once and have it run on multiple different platforms, including mobile and macOS. But with the new alpha apps built using this tech can also run on the Linux desktop.
Install Flutter SDK on Ubuntu
To get started building apps (for whatever platform) you don’t need to install a spaghetti tnagle of intertwined dependencies and developer tools. Just install the Flutter SDK from the Snap Store, add the Dart plugin in an IDE like Visual Studio Code, and get coding:
Note: to build desktop Linux apps using Flutter you do need to run the following commands after installing the SDK:
flutter channel dev
flutter config --enable-linux-desktop
You may also wish to install the flutter-gallery snap too. This showcases the range of widgets and interface components available for use — and will almost certainly give you lots of inspiration for what you could create!
Finally if you’re less interested in making apps and more keen on trying them do check out Flokk Contacts. This is sample desktop Flutter app built to show off what the tech is capable of on desktop.