GNOME supports Flatpak, which is good. But do we have support for AppImages and Snaps? Because being in a distro like Debian, its hard for me to get the latest apps. Flatpaks seem heavy and I like AppImages. (Snap… if you like Ubuntu…). So will GNOME ever start shipping its applications as AppImages?
The only release artefact that GNOME as a project distributes is the GNOME SDK run time for Flatpak, both the stable version (published on Flathub) and the nightly one (released on build.gnome.org). This mostly happens because building the Flatpak run times is a nice side effect of the release-team infrastructure needed to do a GNOME release, and because we use Flatpak run times in our CI infrastructure to simplify the build environment for applications and avoid distro-specific issues.
Individual maintainers also release distribution archives for their projects, mostly for the convenience of downstream packagers; we’re trying to automate this away, so that maintainers will only ever tag a release on their project repository, and won’t need to manually do anything to get a source distribution at the other end of it.
Individual maintainers for GNOME applications may also publish their own binary releases in any format they like; GNOME has a preference for Flatpak, but some projects also have Snap manifests. If a maintainer of a GNOME application wishes to release an AppImage, they can do so without asking anybody for permission.
Flatpak isn’t “heavier” than any other format, once you take into account that:
- every distribution-independent packaging format has to ship its own dependencies in order to work
- Flatpak run times are once-in-a-release downloads, and are shared among applications
- Flatpak de-duplicates files on disk between run times and applications
There is some interest by the developers: https://blogs.gnome.org/hellsworth/2019/10/01/why-snap-should-be-in-your-upstream-project/
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