Fixing the Error creating sandbox error in Flatpak

One of Flatpak’s most fundamental features is that it runs all applications in their own sandbox. If Flatpak runs into an issue with creating a sandboxed environment for an application, it will issue the Error creating sandbox in your terminal. This may occur either when installing, updating, or running a Flatpak application, since these events trigger Flatpak to attempt to create a new sandbox for the app.

The error typically indicates an issue with either user permissions or access to system resources. In this tutorial, we will explore several causes of the Error creating sandbox message and show some troubleshooting steps that you can take to get your Flatpak tool to create sandbox environments correctly again. Follow along with the step by step instructions below on your Linux system to get Flatpak working again as intended.

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • How to install, update, and run Flatpak apps with root permissions
  • How to check Flatpak installation for errors
  • How to reinstall a Flatpak application
  • How to temporarily disable SELinux
Fixing the Error creating sandbox error in Flatpak
Fixing the Error creating sandbox error in Flatpak
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Any Linux distro
Software Flatpak package manager
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # – requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ – requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

Fixing the Error creating sandbox error in Flatpak



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Run through the step by step instructions below for help in resolving the Error creating sandbox message in Flatpak. Since there could be multiple causes for the error, we will go through several troubleshooting methods. One of them should definitely work for you.

  1. The most common cause of the Error creating sandbox message is that your current user does not have the proper permissions to create the necessary sandbox environment. While this can be resolved in several ways, the easiest thing to try would be to simply run your flatpak commands with root permissions. Such as:
    $ sudo flatpak install [repo] [app id]
    $ sudo flatpak update
    $ sudo flatpak run [app id]
    

    Check to see if prepending sudo in the previous commands allows you to create a sandbox for the application. If so, then it means your current user lacks system permissions to do so without root.

  2. Another recommended thing to check is to make sure that your installed Flatpak version and runtimes have not been corrupted:
    $ sudo flatpak repair
    
  3. A third option, if no errors are found in your Flatpak installation, is to reinstall the application that is giving you the error. Again, this should be done with root permissions to further verify that there is not a lack of permissions causing the issue.
    $ sudo flatpak uninstall [app id]
    $ sudo flatpak install [repo] [app id]
    
  4. If you are running a Red Hat based Linux distribution, like RHEL, Fedora, AlmaLinux, CentOS, or Rocky Linux, you can try disabling SELinux temporarily to see if it is causing issues with Flatpak creating a sandbox. Ordinarily, Flatpak will integrate nicely with SELinux, but it has been known on these systems to cause problems with creating a sandbox. Try disabling SELinux and then installing or running the application in question:
    $ sudo setenforce 0
    

    and to turn it back on…

    $ sudo setenforce 1
    

Closing Thoughts




In this tutorial, we saw how to troubleshoot the Error creating sandbox message in Flatpak on a Linux system. Most times, this error indicates an issue with user permissions or access to system resources. In these cases, executing your Flatpak commands with sudo or rebooting your system to free up resources will fix the issue. Other times, it can mean that your Flatpak installation needs repaired or SELinux is interfering with sandbox creation.



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