How to Install Flatpak on Debian 11 Bullseye

Flatpak is a tool for deploying and managing software packages on the Linux operating system. It provides an isolated environment where users can run applications without affecting other parts of their computers.

With Flatpaks, installing an application is like pulling it into your local repository. Links have then generated that point from the right places in Filesystem to where you can find these files–these hard links will be efficient for disk space since they’re simple compared with doing things through traditional methods.

For Debian users, most would know that the distribution focuses on stability over newer features, it is what Debian is famous for, but for some users, you may want to install an application such as Discord, VLC, Spotify, and the list goes that if available on Debian is not up to date with the newest release and missing features.

Flatpaks are always known to be up-to-date for the most part depending on the maintainer, but out of third-party managers, they rank among the top.

In the following tutorial, you will learn how to install Flatpak on Debian 11 and enable Flathub to search, install, maintain or remove Flatpak applications.

Update Debian

The first task is to update your system to ensure all existing packages are up to date before proceeding with the installation.

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

Install Flatpak

Debian features Flatpak by default on its standard stable repository. To begin the installation, use the following command.

sudo apt install flatpak -y

Flathub is a popular destination to search for applications that you can install on a whim, enable this by using the following command.

sudo flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo

How to Use Flatpak

The tutorial will run over some of the most common commands using Flatpak.

The first command you should use is the help command to familiarise yourself with the number of options you have, and even some Flatpak users may find commands that they did not know.

flatpak --help

Example output:

Usage:
  flatpak [OPTION…] COMMAND

Builtin Commands:
 Manage installed applications and runtimes
  install                Install an application or runtime
  update                 Update an installed application or runtime
  uninstall              Uninstall an installed application or runtime
  mask                   Mask out updates and automatic installation
  pin                    Pin a runtime to prevent automatic removal
  list                   List installed apps and/or runtimes
  info                   Show info for installed app or runtime
  history                Show history
  config                 Configure flatpak
  repair                 Repair flatpak installation
  create-usb             Put applications or runtimes onto removable media

 Finding applications and runtimes
  search                 Search for remote apps/runtimes

 Running applications
  run                    Run an application
  override               Override permissions for an application
  make-current           Specify default version to run
  enter                  Enter the namespace of a running application
  ps                     Enumerate running applications
  kill                   Stop a running application

 Manage file access
  documents              List exported files
  document-export        Grant an application access to a specific file
  document-unexport      Revoke access to a specific file
  document-info          Show information about a specific file

 Manage dynamic permissions
  permissions            List permissions
  permission-remove      Remove item from permission store
  permission-set         Set permissions
  permission-show        Show app permissions
  permission-reset       Reset app permissions

 Manage remote repositories
  remotes                List all configured remotes
  remote-add             Add a new remote repository (by URL)
  remote-modify          Modify properties of a configured remote
  remote-delete          Delete a configured remote
  remote-ls              List contents of a configured remote
  remote-info            Show information about a remote app or runtime

 Build applications
  build-init             Initialize a directory for building
  build                  Run a build command inside the build dir
  build-finish           Finish a build dir for export
  build-export           Export a build dir to a repository
  build-bundle           Create a bundle file from a ref in a local repository
  build-import-bundle    Import a bundle file
  build-sign             Sign an application or runtime
  build-update-repo      Update the summary file in a repository
  build-commit-from      Create new commit based on existing ref
  repo                   Show information about a repo

Help Options:
  -h, --help              Show help options

Application Options:
  --version               Print version information and exit
  --default-arch          Print default arch and exit
  --supported-arches      Print supported arches and exit
  --gl-drivers            Print active gl drivers and exit
  --installations         Print paths for system installations and exit
  --print-updated-env     Print the updated environment needed to run flatpaks
  --print-system-only     Only include the system installation with --print-updated-env
  -v, --verbose           Show debug information, -vv for more detail
  --ostree-verbose        Show OSTree debug information

How to Search for Applications with Flatpak

Flatpak search feature can be handy in the terminal. Ideally, you would want to find the name plus the application ID. This still can be done in the terminal but visually not as easy as using the web browser and grabbing the id directly.

flatpak search discord

Example output:

How to Install Flatpak on Debian 11 Bullseye

Secondly, you can grab the

How to Install Applications from Flatpak Search

Once you have found the application, you can install it in the tutorial case Discord using the following command.

flatpak install discord

How to Install Applications with Flatpak direct from Flathub

A more desirable method to install applications is grabbing the direct command from Flathub.

Example:

As above, the command in your terminal would be.

flatpak install flathub com.discordapp.Discord

How to Run Flatpak Application

For most users, you would run the Flatpak installed application from the show applications menu and select the icon. But for users that would like to launch from the terminal, use the following.

Example:

flatpak run com.discordapp.Discord

How to List Installed Flatpak Applications

Sometimes it can be easy to forget what applications you have installed with Flatpak. A handy feature is to use the list command to print what is currently installed in your terminal along with the build version, branch, and application id.

flatpak list

Example output:

How to Install Flatpak on Debian 11 Bullseye

How to Update Flatpak Applications

By default, updates are handled automatically, but you can open a terminal and use the following command if you want to check manually.

flatpak update

How to Remove Flatpak Applications

Use the following command for users who want to remove Flatpak applications in your terminal.

flatpak uninstall --delete-data com.discordapp.Discord

Remove (Uninstall) Flatpak

For users that no longer wish to have Flatpak installed, use the following command to remove all installed applications first.

flatpak uninstall --all

Next, remove any leftover runtimes.

flatpak uninstall --unused

Now remove Flatpak directly from your Debian system.

sudo apt autoremove flatpak --purge -y

With this process, you have removed Flatpak in full.

Comments and Conclusion

In the tutorial, you have learned how to install Flatpak Manager on Debian 11 Bullseye.

Overall, Flatpak is one of the better and more popular third-party installation managers and features on many other Linux distributions installed by default. Overall, APT architecture is more desirable, but this cannot be easy on Debian compared to other distributions such as Ubuntu that have PPA supported for applications not present in Debian’s repository or to grab newer versions.

Performance-wise you may notice a slight difference given Flatpak’s are in containers, but this should hardly be noticeable on modern systems and depending on what applications you are using.



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