Flatpak's New Repo Format For Greater Flathub Scalability, More Architectures To Come

Written by Michael Larabel in Desktop on 22 November 2020 at 12:25 PM EST. 48 Comments
Flatpak and the Flathub "app store" and build service are rolling out a new repository format in order to scale better now that there are around one thousand applications on Flathub.

Flathub continues seeing new Flatpak packages added to the service and thus better scalability is on the mind of developers, especially in wanting to support additional CPU architectures.

A new Flatpak repository format is supported by Flatpak 1.9.2+ and already deployed on Flathub. This new repository format is more efficient and also allows isolating the metadata to download based on the CPU architecture in use by the client. There is also support for delta-based incremental updates to really speed up the performance.

The new repository format summary in uncompressed format was originally about 6.6MB and down to 2.7MB in the new format. If going for the delta, it can be as little as ~20k. Thus for end-users the new format should be a win for bandwidth efficiency and for Flatpak/Flathub developers the new format will allow them to more easily support additional CPU architectures without inflating the overall repository metadata size for all users.

More details on the new format via this blog post by Red Hat's Alexander Larsson as the lead Flatpak developer. Flatpak 1.9.2 as the new development pre-release with this format being supported plus build fixes and other enhancements was released on Friday.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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