Flatpak is a system for building, distributing, and running sandboxed desktop applications on Linux.
See https://flatpak.org/ for more information.
Community discussion happens in #flatpak on Freenode and on the mailing list.
Flatpak welcomes contributions from anyone! Here are some ways you can help:
- Fix one of the issues and submit a PR
- Update flatpak's translations and submit a PR
- Improve flatpak's documentation, hosted at http://docs.flatpak.org and developed over in flatpak-docs
- Find a bug and submit a detailed report including your OS, flatpak version, and the steps to reproduce
- Add your favorite application to Flathub by writing a flatpak-builder manifest and submitting it
- Improve the Flatpak support in your favorite Linux distribution
Flatpak uses a traditional autoconf-style build mechanism. To build just do
./autogen.sh ./configure [args] make make install
To automatically install dependencies on apt-based distributions you can try
apt build-dep flatpak and on dnf ones try
dnf builddep flatpak.
Dependencies you will need include: autoconf, automake, libtool, bison,
gettext, gtk-doc, gobject-introspection, libcap, libarchive, libxml2, libsoup,
gpgme, polkit, libXau, ostree, json-glib, appstream, libseccomp (or their devel
Most configure arguments are documented in
./configure --help. However,
there are some options that are a bit more complicated.
Flatpak relies on a project called Bubblewrap for the
low-level sandboxing. By default, an in-tree copy of this is built
(distributed in the tarball or using git submodules in the git
tree). This will build a helper called flatpak-bwrap. If your system
has a recent enough version of Bubblewrap already, you can use
--with-system-bubblewrap to use that instead.
Bubblewrap can run in two modes, either using unprivileged user
namespaces or setuid mode. This requires that the kernel supports this,
which some distributions disable. For instance, Debian and Arch
(linux kernel v4.14.5
or later), support user namespaces with the
If unprivileged user namespaces are not available, then Bubblewrap must be built as setuid root. This is believed to be safe, as it is designed to do this. Any build of Bubblewrap supports both unprivileged and setuid mode, you just need to set the setuid bit for it to change mode.
However, this does complicate the installation a bit. If you pass
--with-priv-mode=setuid to configure (of Flatpak or Bubblewrap) then
make install will try to set the setuid bit. However that means you
have to run
make install as root. Alternatively, you can pass
--enable-sudo to configure and it will call
sudo when setting the
setuid bit. Alternatively you can enable setuid completely outside of
the installation, which is common for example when packaging Bubblewrap
in a .deb or .rpm.
There are some complications when building Flatpak to a different
prefix than the system-installed version. First of all, the newly
built Flatpak will look for system-installed flatpaks in
$PREFIX/var/lib/flatpak, which will not match existing installations.
You can use
--with-system-install-dir=/var/lib/flatpak to make both
installations use the same location.
Secondly, Flatpak ships with a root-privileged PolicyKit helper for
system-wide installation, called
flatpak-system-helper. It is D-Bus
activated (on the system bus) and if you install in a non-standard
location it is likely that D-Bus will not find it and PolicyKit
integration will not work. However, if the system installation is
synchronized, you can often use the system installed helper instead—
at least if the two versions are close in versions.
The Flatpak project consists of multiple pieces, and it can be a bit challenging to find your way around at first. Here is a quick intro to the major components of the flatpak repo:
common: contains the library, libflatpak. It also contains various pieces of code that are shared between the library, the client and the services. Non-public code can be recognized by having a
app: the commandline client. Each command has a
data: D-Bus interface definition files
session-helper: The flatpak-session-helper service, which provides various helpers for the sandbox setup at runtime
system-helper: The flatpak-system-helper service, which runs as root on the system bus and allows non-root users to modify system installations
portal: The Flatpak portal service, which lets sandboxed apps request the creation of new sandboxes
doc: The sources for the documentation, both man pages and library documentation
tests: The testsuite
bubblewrap: Flatpak's unprivileged sandboxing tool which is developed separately and exists here as a submodule
libglnx: a small utility library for projects that use GLib on Linux, as a submodule
dbus-proxy: a filtering proxy for D-Bus connections, as a submodule