Flatpak, a type of package that disappoints as much or more than Snap [OPINION]

Flatpak is not cool

A few weeks ago, a server wrote an article explaining why he was losing hope on the Snap packs. These kinds of next-gen packages promise the moon, but three years after their launch they still haven't taken off as they should. But hey, all your problems come to nothing compared to a problem that I experience many times when testing software in a package Flatpak, the rival of the Snap that is leaving me a very bad taste in my mouth.

It all started when I wrote an article about Steam. The installation your Flatpak package was simple, fast clean and everything seemed to be perfect… until she decided she didn't want to open up anymore. At the time I thought it was a Steam problem, that they hadn't done their job well, so I uninstalled the Flatpak package and now I'm using their APT version. The problem is that this is something that I am seeing constantly, the last time a moment ago where I wanted to try the open source virtual assistant Almond.

Some Flatpak packages don't even open

If I want to test it, I probably have to test on an Ubuntu virtual machine or with a USB Live with persistent storage, but on my Kubuntu Almond doesn't even want to open up. If I execute the command that they provide us on their website, I end up receiving a message that says that time has run out and I am left with two feet of my nose. And on their website they do not offer another version, such as Snap or an APT from their own repository.

This happens to me, in part, in the Flatpak version of Kdenlive: takes so long to open I used to try to open it multiple times, which ended up with multiple windows of the same program open across my desktop. In the end I have decided to go back to Kdenlive 18.12.3 waiting for the APT version to update. To be honest, I don't know if this flaw is more noticeable in Kubuntu than in other Ubuntu-based distributions, but it makes it clear that the fact that they work on many operating systems does not end up being true, not always.

Like Snap, predefined design

PulseEffects Flatpak in Plasma

Flatpak version of PulseEffects in Plasma

Another problem, shared with Snap packages, is that as it is a "closed" package with all dependencies included, your image is already predefined. For example, I use PulseEffects in its Flatpak version and its design looks better in the GNOME graphical environment. Also, it does not respect the custom setting of having the buttons on the left, which ends up confusing me. Other applications have a clean interface, but few are perfect unless the graphical environment for which it was created is used.

And there are many graphic environments. There are some Flatpak packages that have been created with elementary OS in mind, which on top of that makes them have fewer buttons (there is not the minimize button). In short, the image of a Flatpak package it is difficult to be perfect on our preferred Linux distribution.

Updates are usually quick

Where i don't have no complaint is in the updates. The aforementioned Kdenlive has been available in version 19.04 for a long time and Franz, who works perfectly for me, was soon updated to version 5.1 that I am using now. I'm not sure why developers upload them to Flathub sooner than to the Snappy Store, but pretty much everything we find as a Flatpak package is up-to-date software. In the Snap ... nope. Mozilla usually takes a long time to update Firefox in its Snap version, the APT version being available many times before.

But I want to end this post with some optimism, just as I did with the opinion post on Snap packages. We are facing packages that are not yet four years old and will still improve a lot over the years. For example, I am using GIMP in its Snap version because it is in Spanish (in Kubuntu) and the APT version is not. As for Flatpak packages, I use PulseEffects and Franz, and in both cases I am happy. Franz does integrate perfectly into the system, while PulseEffects does not give me problems beyond having a different image and that every time I start it tells me to restart it because it has been updated.

What do you think of Flatpak packages?

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  1.   Rolo said

    I use Flatpak on Debian and I don't share your pessimism. First of all Flatpak and snap have to come to dethrone apt but to complement it. I have tried kdelive, kicad, Arduino IDE, Gradio, Recipes, and a few others that I later uninstalled.
    With the arduno ide he had graphical problems, since it did not look good (I guess something related to java).
    with kicad I couldn't see in 3d until I updated Flatpak and kdelive sometimes closed on my own, but the same thing has also happened to me with apt packages.

    I don't know why there is still no firefox or chromium for Flatpak, which would be ideal for distros like debian where a user with little experience could install a modern firefox without having to add the unstable repos

  2.   Rafa said

    The problem is always wanting to have the latest version on a unix system where the issue of dependencies often does not allow it.
    Kdenlive theme, on which I write tutorials. Not even in the most recent kubuntu with kde I have managed to make it work as it should ... all are errors. Curiously, the only distribution that I have managed to make Kdenlive 19.04 work perfectly, and other applications in the latest stable version, is in Deepin OS. A distribution that I am seriously considering installing as the main system for this reason and many more wonders than when you try this distribution little by little captivates, fascinates and seduces you because of how well everything is going and its high performance, to say that in a machine Virtual with two allocated cores and 4Gb of memory I get better performance results than the host with 8 cores of the i7 and 16Gb of memory.

  3.   Christian Echeverry said

    We must not rule out all the work that has been done by some applications that do not work well, I think that Flatpak and Snap are good alternatives, that although they may be a bit green, with the updates they will improve little by little.

    I use Ubuntu 19.04 where I have .debs, flatpaks and snaps installed, I am trying to put codenamed repositories aside because they are a problem sometimes when upgrading version.

    1.    pablinux said

      Hi, christian. You do like me: drop the repositories (and I even loose .debs) and try to use the new packages. And that's the problem: what used to always worked for me, RIGHT NOW not, especially with Flatpak. Many times they do not open and other times they close. That is why in both posts I speak that they are the future, but in the present they are not reliable.

      A greeting.

  4.   JuanEG said

    I have a problem with flatpck pulseeffects, apparently looking at the flatpck applications in forums for I don't know what reason because when I am writing this I have not carefully read the dock that talks about hello in faltpck, they do not have access to dconf or home folder , and when I restart the machine, the pulseudio service does not start with the system, it is very annoying, I cannot configure the pulseeffects.pa manually since when I load the program or restart the changes I make are deleted, and it does not let me add the service at the start of the system by console, it tells me that it is not found, I have been reading and many people complain about this but I do not see the solution anywhere, the truth is I am hours away from uninstalling and reinstalling it.

    1.    pablinux said

      Hello, JuanEG. We have discussed this problem in the comments of a post here: being closed, there are different things and it "communicates" differently with the rest of the system. Regarding restarting: Do you accept the notification that appears every time you start it? If so, just discard it. I do save the changes that I make. I haven't tried starting with the system because I only use it for music.

      A greeting.

  5.   Saebl said

    These types of packages are the future of Linux, and they require all the support we can give them.

    I am delighted with snap.

    1.    pablinux said

      Hello, Seabl. I agree with what you say, but support cannot translate into jeopardizing your job. For example, I do use Franz's Flatpak because it's perfect and if it wasn't, I wouldn't lose much. I also use the one from PulseEffects even though the design is GNOME. In Snap I use GIMP, for example.

      A greeting.