Flatpak is a universal package management tool for Linux systems, which is meant to streamline the process of searching for and installing applications regardless of what Linux distro you are using. Despite making things easier, there is a small learning curve to getting started with Flatpak, partly because of the lingo that gets tossed around with “remotes” and external repos like FlatHub. For users that are brand new to Flatpak, you may be wondering how FlatHub fits into the equation.
In this tutorial, you will learn about the difference between Flatpak and FlatHub, and how both technologies work together to provide you with a big catalog of software applications that can be installed regardless of what Linux distribution you are running. We will also look at how Flatpak differs from some other popular distribution independent package installers, like Snap.
In this tutorial you will learn:
- Flatpak vs FlatHub: what’s the difference?
- How does Flatpak and FlatHub differ from other package management systems?
|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
# – requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of
$ – requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user
Flatpak vs FlatHub: A Comparison of Linux App Installers
Flatpak is a package management tool that allows developers to package and distribute software. It is also the same technology that allows end users to download and install that software on their Linux system. It has some advantages over using a default package manager (apt, dnf, pacman, etc) because it has access to a lot of applications that have been contributed by the Linux community, and is generally very secure for installing and running software, since it creates a sandboxed environment for apps to run in. Best of all, it works identically across any distribution.
FlatHub is an online repository that distributes Flatpak apps. Flatpak can query FlatHub to search for and download software. Users can upload their applications to FlatHub in order to make them avaialble to the multitude of users that utilize Flatpak and FlatHub to download new software. The reason FlatHub gets mentioned a lot is because it is the biggest repository of software for Flatpak, and is the recommended place to get started with downloading and installing Flatpak apps.
In short, Flatpak is the tool used to install applications, and FlatHub is a repository that distributes the applications to Flatpak users. FlatHub is only one of many online repositories (called “remotes” in Flatpak) that can be queried for software to download and install in Flatpak.
Flatpak vs Other Linux App Installers
So, how does Flatpak (and its greatest asset for software, FlatHub) compare to other Linux app installers? Flatpak already works similarly to traditional package managers, with how it relies on software repositories in order to download applications. The biggest difference is that it works the same across any Linux distro, instead of apt, dnf, pacman, and others which only work on their intended distributions and derivatives.
Another very popular package installer which is distro independent is Snap. Both have the same end function, which is to install applications in a sandboxed environment while working the same across any Linux distro, but their approach to software distribution is a little different. While Flatpak has different software repositories, with FlatHub being the most popular, Snap only uses the Snap store, which is hosted and run by Canonical (the developer behind Ubuntu).
AppImage is another package management system that is frequently compared to Flatpak. It works by installing files with the
.AppImage file extension, which can be distributed across any number of websites and online catalogs. It differs from Flatpak and FlatHub in the way that the apps are distributed.
In the end, users like Flatpak because it is distribution independent and can install applications from any number of remote repositories. Developers can set up their own repos or upload their work a well known repo like FlatHub in order to give access to it for all the Flatpak users across any number of Linux distributions.