How to fix the Error updating application in Flatpak

Flatpak normally does a good job of keeping apps up to date by querying your configured remotes for new versions of installed apps. However, if Flatpak runs into trouble during an update, you may receive the Error updating application message in your terminal. This could occur for a variety of reasons, but usually just means that Flatpak can’t access the remote repository to install a needed update.

In other cases, the error could also indicate some other problem with Flatpak which is then manifesting itself as being unable to install new updates. In this tutorial, we will explore several causes of this error and show some troubleshooting steps that you can take to get your Flatpak tool downloading updates 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 update all Flatpak apps with root permissions
  • How to check Flatpak installation for errors
  • How to check for connectivity issues
  • How to restart the Flatpak system service
How to fix the Error updating application in Flatpak
How to fix the Error updating application 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

How to fix the Error updating application in Flatpak

Run through the step by step instructions below for help in resolving the Error updating application error 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.

Keep in mind that if the Error updating application message is only occurring when trying to install updates for a particular application, then it is likely that there is an issue with that specific software, and not with your own system config or Flatpak installation.
  1. Two of the most basic things to check is that you have proper permissions to be updating the application in question, and that you are typing the application name correctly. By executing the command below with sudo permissions, Flatpak will attempt to update all of your installed applications, whether an app is configured per user or system wide, and you will not need to specify the name of an application.
    $ sudo flatpak update

    You can also try adding the verbose flag to get more output related to the update process:

    $ sudo flatpak update -v

    The output you receive from running the command above should also tell you if an individual app is having trouble updating or if your Flatpak service is having trouble installing updates in general. Further troubleshooting can begin based on the response to the above.

  2. If the application is still having trouble with being updated, check that your installed Flatpak version and runtimes have not been corrupted:
    $ sudo flatpak repair
  3. Are you having any connectivity issues? Flatpak queries online repositories to search for and download software. Without a stable connection and decent bandwidth speed, you may receive an error when trying to update Flatpak applications. Try restarting your network or simply trying again later if you are experiencing any connection issues. Another possibility is that the Flatpak remote from which you are trying to update from is currently offline.
  4. Another thing you can try is restarting the Flatpak service in Systemd, then try updating your application again.
    $ sudo systemctl restart flatpak-system-helper.service

    If you have only just installed Flatpak recently, and have not yet done a system reboot, it is also advisable to reboot your whole system and try again:

    $ reboot

Closing Thoughts

In this tutorial, we saw how to troubleshoot the Error updating application error in Flatpak on a Linux system. Most times, this just means that Flatpak is having trouble connecting to the remote repository, and can simply try again later. Other times, it could mean that your Flatpak installation needs repaired or that Flatpak needs to be restarted. In some cases, it could also mean that there is a bug with the application that you are trying to update. In those cases, report your findings to the app developer and to Flatpak for a fix.

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