Ubuntu derivatives will not install Flatpak by default

The software centers of Ubuntu-derived distributions will not have support for Flatpak.

Not the first time failed a forecast about Ubuntu plans. More than my shortcomings as a futurologist, that has to do with the unpredictability of Mark Shuttleworth. In this case fIt was the announcement that Ubuntu-derived distributions will not install Flatpak packages by default. I am referring to the official derivatives.

I should be used to it. I once wrote a long article about Ubuntu's plans for mobile devices. In a break before the final review I see in my email the statement from Canonical announcing that it was leaving that market.

In December it was announced that Xubuntu 23.04 will have native support in the Software Center for Flatpak packages. Another derivative, Ubuntu Mate had done it before.

Since the desktops of both distributions are based on the GNOME desktop libraries, it was not unreasonable to think that the way was being paved to definitively move to the Snap package format which is quite resisted by many developers of free software projects.

In the past, Ubuntu had already abandoned the Unity desktop and the Mir graphical server in favor of projects with more consensus within the community.


Although users of different Linux distributions (including the original flavor) will still be able to install support for Flatpak packages from the repositories, none of them will include this support by default. The tools to integrate the Flatpak stores with the different software centers are also maintained.

Whoever explained the decision was made by Philipp Kewisch who works as Community Engineering Manager at Canonical:

In an ideal world, users experience only one way to install software. When they do, they can expect this mechanism to be supported by the community and receive the most attention when it comes to resolving issues in software packages. When a new packaging technology is provided out-of-the-box, there is an expectation that the distribution will provide community support and be dedicated to contributing to development to resolve issues.. This creates fragmentation instead of focusing on improving the technologies chosen for distribution.

In order to maintain this approach and at the same time offer options to the user, Ubuntu and its derivatives consider the use of the debs and snaps formats the default experience. Users are free to choose to obtain their software from other sources, including Flatpak. A way to install these alternatives is, and will continue to be, available for installation from the Ubuntu repositories with a simple command.

As part of our combined efforts, the flavors of Ubuntu have made a joint decision to adjust some of the default packages in Ubuntu: From now on, the Flatpak package format as well as packages to integrate Flatpak into the core respective software will no longer be installed by default in the next version scheduled for April 2023, Lunar Lobster. Users who have used Flatpak will not be affected by the update, as the flavors are including a special migration that takes this into account. Those who haven't interacted with Flatpak will find themselves with software from the Ubuntu repositories and the Snap Store.

We think this will improve the Ubuntu out-of-the-box experience. for new users, while respecting existing users to personalize their own experiences.”

The key points:

  1. Only the default installation of Flatpak support is removed. The user will be able to install both manually and using the software center support for this or other package formats.
  2. To support Flatpak packages, it will only be necessary to write the commands sudo apt install flatpak and flatpak remote-add –if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo.
  3. The change will take effect from the release of version 23.04 in April of this year.
  4. Unofficial derivative distributions will make their own decisions.

I don't know if the decision to bet on Snap makes sense. But having taken it, the decision to standardize the user experience among all the official distros makes sense

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