It's annoying when apps only support 1-2 distros

Am I the only one who is annoyed by the fact that a lot of companies claim that they support Linux, even though they usually only provide packages for Fedora, Debian, and its derivatives? Signal is one example of this, where they just provide a DEB package.

Companies should really try to distribute their apps as flatpaks if possible so everyone can use them regardless of their distribution choice.

Its kind of hard to maintain them properly… for free

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For these sorts of things, this is why I really like the idea of an official Flatpak. Unfortunately with snap you can’t even have your own remote like 1Password does.

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I actually have a little statistic here. I used to make a note when looking at an app (both free and commercial ones) which distributions they support or gave installation instructions for. I did that for 54 apps until I got bored and stopped.

Winner distros:

  1. Ubuntu: 52 (also Mint 19, elementaryOS 8, popOS 6, Zorin 5)
  2. Debian: 44 (also MX Linux 7)
  3. Fedora: 43
  4. OpenSUSE: 30
  5. RHEL and its rhelatives like CentOS: 29
  6. Arch: 24 (also Manjaro 12)
  7. Gentoo: 9
  8. Slackware: 7
  9. Mageia: 6
  10. SUSE Linux Enterprise: 6
  11. NixOS: 6
  12. PCLinuxOS: 5
  13. Alpine: 5

So if you’re the fourth-ranked distro (OpenSUSE) you already don’t get installation instructions for >40% of apps. Could definitely be better.

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Would be cool to see how many of them offer flatpaks.

There are also some apps that can be installed without a package manager, like for example Minecraft Java Edition distributes a .tar.xz archive of their launcher. This auto-updates as well. I think this seems like an option for companies too. Why does Mojang/Microsoft not use flatpak? ¯_(ツ)_/¯

I’m not sure if this is okay to use on an immutable distribution like Aeon, if anyone knows, then I would like to know too. Aeon developers recommend using flatpaks or installing packages in distroboxes.

If you’re referring to .tar.xz files as an installation method, for what it’s worth, Mullvad distributes the official Linux version of its browser in a .tar.xz archive. It includes a .desktop file that points to the extracted contents.

Very few seem to offer “official” Flatpaks. But of course the apps are often still available on Flathub.

Even Tor Browser does this.

I think the biggest benefit of this is that you can probably update as fast as possible rather than let there be delay between your release and distro packaging.

That .tar.xz file has a binary that creates a folder .minecraft and installs everything into that folder. I don’t think apps that use this method ever request to install into the system binaries folder? But that’s my observation.

Though yes it can be annoying when apps support very few distributions. This seems to be a major problem with proprietary apps, or if an app needs to be isolated from the system (like Tor Browser) and/or want to update outside of a package manager.

There is Minecraft Launcher in Flatpak too

There are package isolation concepts such as using the nix package manager on other distros, or distrobox, as well as appimages and flatpaks. These can bring a decent cadre of packaged applications to boutique Linux distros.

One page on using nix on Debian: Nix Package Manager on Ubuntu or Debian · ariya.io

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Using a distrobox is a good solution if situation arises that you can’t find a flatpak , appimage or native package for it. Distrobox allows you to have containers with different linux distribution and also sharing your home directory at the same time. Its much less resource hogging than using a VM. GPU pass through is also much easier in a distrobox.

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I don’t even bother with distrobox as toolbx can do other distros too. While distrobox may support more distributions you have to be okay with the fact it’s written in shellscript and not a proper language like golang.

But if it works well, and performance is not an issue, does it even matter?

No, use what comes with your distribution.

Distrobox has more features though (the most obvious one is distrobox-export) and a much better documentation.

Yeah, that’s why toolbox is in MicroOS (server distro) and distrobox is in Aeon (desktop distro), distrobox is better for desktop usage.