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This repository is the main source of developer documentation for Flatpak. It can be read at

Some documentation is also available on the Flatpak wiki and as part of the flatpak and flatpak-builder man pages.

The docs are written in reStructuredText and contributions are welcome!


To build the docs locally, first install sphinx and sphinx_rtd_theme. On Fedora this can be with:

sudo dnf install python3-sphinx python3-sphinx_rtd_theme

On Debian this can be with:

sudo apt install python3-sphinx python3-sphinx-rtd-theme

Then run make html in the docs directory.

By default, the document being built is in English. If you want to build documents in other languages, such as Chinese, you can use the following command:

sphinx-build -b html -D language=zh_CN . _build/html/zh_CN

Then you will see the Chinese documentation in the directory _build/html/zh_CN .


Translations are handled on Zanata.

You can open an issue requesting a new language added.

For maintainers run make gettext in the docs directory to generate .pot files. To update .po files run sphinx-intl update -p _build/gettext


Desktop application developers are the primary audience for the Flatpak docs, particularly the authors of existing applications, including those from non-Linux platforms.

The docs should reflect popular practice amongst this audience wherever possible and not assume that applications are coming from the Linux desktop space. In practical terms, this means that we should expect:

  • Git for version control
  • GitHub for hosting
  • Freedesktop runtimes
  • No prior knowledge of Linux desktop conventions, such as .desktop files, AppStream and D-Bus

Outside of these basic defaults, special separate attention should be paid to popular cross-platform technologies such as Electron and Qt.


Guidelines for those who want to contribute to the docs:

  • Explain basic Flatpak concepts
  • Focus on standard application developer workflows
  • Use the docs to explain the benefits of Flatpak and why a developer might use it
  • Only cover what's essential for application developers - don't include details of Flatpak internals unless absolutely necessary
  • Provide a developer experience that's as smooth and frictionless as possible
  • Help to prevent difficulties by anticipating potential issues developers might hit, and steering them clear of them
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