How to install Flatpak apps on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

The latest Ubuntu LTS, 20.04, is out! This is the Ubuntu version that millions of people will use for at least two years. Rather unpleasantly, it makes it harder to install Flatpak apps.

In 20.04 LTS, Ubuntu’s Software Center was switched from being a .deb version of GNOME Software to a snap app. The new snap store can handle management of snap applications and traditional .deb ones. But it can’t install or remove Flatpak applications as the .deb version could. In all, it’s a step back.

The official instructions for enabling Flatpak applications don’t work anymore for Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, so here is how to fix it.

Install GNOME Software again

The simplest way to manage Flatpak apps is to install GNOME Software again. Open the terminal app using “Ctrl+Alt+T” or from the app launcher and run the following command.

sudo apt install gnome-software gnome-software-plugin-flatpak

Now let’s add the Flathub repository which will let you to use GNOME Software to browse and install Flatpak apps.

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

Now we need to safely remove Ubuntu’s snap store to avoid redundancy of features and confusion from the icons being similar.

snap remove snap-store

Now restart the system and it’s all done! You can now pop open GNOME Software from the app menu or by using search. The app is simply labelled “Software”.

You can use GNOME Software to install Flatpak apps, traditional .deb apps and even snap apps, so it is objectively better than the default snap store Ubuntu ships with.

Discussion

I understand Ubuntu snapped their Software Center to push updates and features faster to users, but there was no need to remove existing functionality. Doing this has only made it harder and more confusing for people wanting to install Flatpak apps on their system.

Personally, I think Ubuntu is getting less and less friendly by the day. I switched to elementary OS a year ago as my primary OS, but I do try out new distros from time to time. And I’m sad to say that Ubuntu 20.04 isn’t as exciting as I thought it’d be. There are so many paper-cuts in the latest Ubuntu experience.

creative commons image Article published under the freedom-respecting Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0, minus any media file(s) credited independently.

3 thoughts on “How to install Flatpak apps on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

  1. Actually, the official instructions do still work for Ubuntu 20.04, since installing ‘gnome-software-plugin-flatpak’ will also install ‘gnome-software’ as a dependency. The thing is, gnome-software and snap-store can be hard to distinguish, as I’ve illustrated it on the website’s GitHub: https://github.com/flatpak/flatpak.github.io/issues/365#issuecomment-619380525

    You can also see there that a upstream bug has been filled for snap-store: https://bugs.launchpad.net/snap-store/+bug/1871944

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is nice, thanks. But because the PPA doesn’t have a release file, people might not understand why it’s giving an error and think the instructions don’t work.
      In any case, I hope Ubuntu reverses on the decision.

      Like

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