Ubuntu Flavors/Spins Will No Longer Be Able To Install Flatpak By Default

Written by Michael Larabel in Ubuntu on 22 February 2023 at 06:25 AM EST. 155 Comments
While Ubuntu Linux hasn't provided Flatpak support out-of-the-box due to their preference of using their own Snap app packaging/distribution format, Ubuntu flavors/spins have to this point been able to pre-install Flatpak support if they desired. However, for the 23.04 "Lunar Lobster" cycle and moving forward, Ubuntu flavors will no longer be permitted to install Flatpak packages by default.

Flatpak support for Ubuntu and its flavors will remain available in the Ubuntu archive so those wanting to install Flatpak support can easily do so post-install. This change going into effect with the 23.04 cycle is making it so no Ubuntu flavors will have Flatpak support installed by default / out-of-the-box: they are supposed to center around Debian packages and Snaps for their out-of-the-box packaging support to align with Ubuntu.

Ubuntu flatpak

Philipp Kewisch as the Community Engineering Manager at Canonical announced the policy change today around the Ubuntu flavor packaging defaults. The main takeaway is:
"To maintain this focus while also providing user choice, Ubuntu and its flavors consider debs and snaps the default experience. Users have the freedom of choice to get 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 archive with a simple command.

As part of our combined efforts, the Ubuntu flavors have made a joint decision to adjust some of the default packages on Ubuntu: Going forward, the Flatpak package as well as the packages to integrate Flatpak into the respective software center will no longer be installed by default in the next release due in April 2023, Lunar Lobster. Users who have used Flatpak will not be affected on upgrade, as flavors are including a special migration that takes this into account. Those who haven’t interacted with Flatpak will be presented with software from the Ubuntu repositories and the Snap Store.

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

So while no Ubuntu flavors will be installing Flatpak support by default on new installs, post-install for Ubuntu itself or the various flavors you can continue to enable the support via sudo apt install flatpak and if wanting the Flathub repository to run sudo flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo. Ubuntu MATE, Kubuntu, and Xubuntu at least are among the flavors that had been pre-installing Flatpak support out-of-the-box for their users.
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