Hey CloudReady fans!
In v63 we added experimental Docker support, making our first foray into features that aren't part of a typical Chromebook experience. To continue in that theme, v64 of CloudReady: Home Edition includes support for something that we hope will be even more interesting: Flatpak applications.
(Note that this feature is only in 64bit builds)
Flatpaks are a way of packaging a native Linux application with their dependencies so that they travel from distro to distro or environment to environment a little easier - something that matches the Windows and Mac application distribution model, but differs from the traditional Linux application approach that relies on modularity and reusing components.
Read more about Flatpaks:
Easy References (thanks to Phil for the tip)!
Before you begin using Flatpaks:
A ton of work has gone into this, we are very excited to have you use it, but Flatpak support is definitely still unstable and experimental.
Some known issues that will be an issue on any flatpak:
- Poor performance
- We have changes and fixes to get performance improved coming very soon, but even then there may be issues with some functionality or applications
- No sound
- Non-native cursor appearance and functionality
- Cursors will look different inside a flatpak
- Right-clicking inside a flatpak may not open the same context menu you're used to
- Uninstall flatpaks only via command-line
You can also expect some or all of the following issues:
- Flatpaks that don't work at all
- Isolated or specific functionality that doesn't work
- Menus that are glitchy or unclickable
- An inability to uninstall Flatpaks
- An inability to close some Flatpak windows after launching them
- Crashing during use
- Nearly anything else!
Flatpaks aren't made by us - we just want to support their efforts and give CloudReady users a method of launching native Linux applications.
A note on Security:
Chromebooks, CloudReady, and the wider world of Chromium OS-based operating systems are build around a pretty careful architecture that ensures security by, in part, limiting the types of actions a user can take. This is a significant divergence from that plan, and it's important to know that we've favored offering the functionality to users over preserving any specific guarantee of security in this case.
Your starting expectation should not be that any given flatpak is malicious, and those hosted on Flathub are reviewed and probably trustworthy. Flatpaks are also architected to be sandboxed and unprivileged. Here's part 1 and part 2 of a nice security overview. Ultimately, though, be aware that by taking any of the steps listed below, you're allowing an application built by a 3rd party to run on your system, and that added functionality that you couldn't have on a typical CloudReady or Chromebook device necessarily represents added risk tied to the added benefit.
How to install and use a Flatpak on CloudReady:
- Make sure you're on v64 or higher of the Home Edition of CloudReady
- As of April 5 2018, this requires you switch to the Dev Channel
- Log in
- Visit https://beta.flathub.org/apps
- Find an app you want, open the page, and click "Install"
- Confirm you actually want to download this file if prompted by Chrome by clicking "Keep"
- Open Files app and find the Flatpak you downloaded
- Double click it to open the Flatpak installer, confirm you want to install the Flatpak and wait till that's done:
- When complete, confirm the finished install and close the installer window
- Now, open your app tray, find your new app, and open it!
Your new flatpak should appear in the tray with the expected logo, but when launched on your task bar will just show with a placeholder icon(s) as below:
If you want to talk about how you're using Flatpaks on CloudReady:
Post detailed instructions, links to and descriptions of useful containers you're using, or anything else relevant to Docker in our new Flatpaks section of the Forums!