Ubuntu Flavor Packaging Defaults

For some reason, this reminds me to… YouTube’s decision to remove the dislike button.
All for “greater user experience”, peace, and harmony.

A simple voting system regarding this decision would have been amazing to see.
Since this rather seems a Canonical way or highway.


this is dissapointing. Linux Mint doesn’t like snaps. Pop-os default is also flatpak


both of them decided to not want to be flavours (with all the drawbacks and incompatibilities and support issues on the ubuntu side that brings along), so they were not involved in the discussion at all and will not be affected by this either …


Would make more sence if ubuntu didn’t have gnome as a default as snaps will never be native in gnome

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This is one of the reasons I actually stopped being a moderator at askubuntu. Not because of inactivity, but because I started to see that you guys are not really listening to the community and would make what I believe about Ubuntu harder and harder to promote, like it was around Ubuntu 10.10.

BTW removing flatpak is not at all related to the phrase:

“Ubuntu is a community of communities. True to the meaning of the word Ubuntu we all can achieve more than we would individually.”

It is in fact the opposite. If someone wanted to use something that is on flatpak because it is more updated than a snap or deb version, they should not need to do an extra step for it. Also the package is very small compared to other ones found natively in Ubuntu.

It is stuff like this which makes people that promote and defend Ubuntu for years, turn their life even harder to keep on promoting it.

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

Really? How so? How is this improving the out of the box Ubuntu experience for new users.

Too many nice words for simply marketing the fact that flatpak is going away because it directly competes against snap. On top of it, the elephant of the room which is snap that gets a lot of criticism is not even addressed. Ubuntu was supposed to be a guidance force for many distros, instead, little by little it is turning into something completely different from the times of Ubuntu 10.10 or before.

Not listening to the community, literally doing the opposite, even during public voting sessions, knowing all to well about community problems but focusing on something else.


As a developer, it might help to see a bit of the standpoint I have on this issue, as I actually agree with the decision to not include Flatpak by default. I may simply be reiterating what @kewisch has already said, but I don’t have to talk in “official language” so it might be a bit easier to swallow.

It may be easily overlooked, but one of the core features of Ubuntu is that package versions change very, very rarely. If at all possible, bug fixes are taken from the (openly viewable) source code of an application, carefully tweaked to make them compatible with an older version of the software, patched in, tested, and only then deployed. There are a few packages where this is impractical (Firefox for instance), and there are some closed-source packages in the Restricted repo that we can’t backport patches into since we don’t have the code. But for the most part, if you install an app into Ubuntu, that’s the app you get, and that will be the app you continue to use for the rest of that release’s lifespan.

This is a powerful feature since it makes Ubuntu unlikely to randomly break your important data as often as that other OS that you hear get a lot of grief from Linux geeks, but it also requires that Canonical and the Ubuntu community have near-total control over the software repository.

That’s only possible if Canonical actually has the necessary control.

Canonical does have total and complete control over the Ubuntu archive that apt uses. And Canonical has total and complete control over the Snap repository. If something goes wrong and Canonical must step it, they can.

But Canonical has zero control over the Flatpak repositories. They do not host a Flatpak repo of their own (Snap does the near-equivalent job), nor do they control Flathub or any of the other Flatpak repos (at least as far as I know). This means that if something goes awry with a Flatpak, the user is pretty much left to figure it out for themselves.

What’s worse, most of the Ubuntu flavors (and Ubuntu itself) provide free technical support via forums and IRC channels. Most of our users are using software from the Ubuntu repos or Snap Store and we are equipped to help them. We know what to expect from the software our users run and can give targeted and efficient advice on how to resolve issues. Some of us can even kick things into shape in the archives if there’s a legitimate problem with our packages, or we know who to talk to.

With Flatpaks, the situation is much more dismal from a technical support perspective. We have little-to-no clue what quirks the software vendor(s) will have introduced since we don’t work closely with them. We have no way to reach in and fix legitimate bugs aside from filing bug reports and hoping that they will be answered. We’re going to end up with frustrated support staff and even more frustrated users. And all because they didn’t know that if they clicked a particular button in their flavor’s app store, they would be downloading unsupported software.

Yuck. No thanks.

Ubuntu provides plenty enough software for most people in the apt archives and in the Snap Store. In the rare instances that someone needs a Flatpak, they have to go out of their way to enable Flatpak support, which gives them a clue that what they’re doing might not end well. If they enable Flatpak, install an app, it fails, and then they come ask for help, they’ll at least expect it when we say “sorry, we don’t support Flatpaks, that’s why they require extra steps to enable”. They’re exactly like PPAs from an Ubuntu support perspective. And I’m sure we can agree that providing official support for arbitrary PPAs is a bad idea.

That, in a nutshell, is why Canonical and the Ubuntu flavors have gone ahead and agreed to not include Flatpak on the default ISOs, at least as I understand it. As a regular supporter in the IRC channels and many of the Ubuntu-related forums, I heartily agree with this decision.

(For the record, I don’t hate Flatpaks, just like I don’t hate PPAs. In fact I have Flatpak enabled on my personal system and have nn app installed from Flathub that I use. I just don’t expect that the official Ubuntu support venues are going to help me if that app goes berzerk.)


snaps are not (and have never been) tied to any desktop env … in fact i’d say the majority of snaps in the snap store are rather server/cloud, CLI and IoT focused, only a fraction are actually desktop apps … snaps are not flatpak (which is a nice mechanism to deliver desktop-only apps, but nothing more), they are a fully fledged packaging system (there are even snapped kernels and bootloaders) …


That is one big huge correct answer. Thank you for that. You actually ended up answering OTHER questions people had between the differences at the current time between flatpak and snaps, as well as from the point of view of developers. I think I got carried away with my tantrum, probably because I have dedicated so many years (I started using Ubuntu around 2005 and did almost 9 years on Askubuntu, and promoted Ubuntu more than 15 years already). So stuff like this hits me hard when I am trying to mention Ubuntu as the go to.

Your comment helped me understand other things as well in regards to other points about maintainability. Greatly appreciated.


The decision to use snap as the default application packaging, dropping flatpak on ubuntu flavours brings a question: is there any discussion on how to make more applications available as a snap by default, with wider community support/faster updates? It seems many popular packages (such as OBS, Krita, …) have more flatpak version releases, and that makes it seem like the snap has been “cast aside”.


if you feel like helping out, there is the snapcrafters team (the MOTU of snaps) that is always seeking new members to help maintaining the group-maintained snap packages and keeping them up to date …

you can find more info at:


Thank you so much for this! Makes the situation absolutely clear for anybody (who might be confused but seek to understand).


Thank you for the reply; i have seen the name “snapcrafters” in some apps and knew that it was part of contributions, but did not know that anyone could help. I will be checking out on that for sure!


Why can’t you just have both by default? It’s clear to see the community doesn’t like snap but the choice to drop flatpak just means less software available out of the box and another step for users to do to get software. Out of all the projects Canonical has started and then gave up on they just had to stick with snap. It’s useful I’ll give it that but your approach of force-feeding it to users is just disgusting it might as well be malware.

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I assume you didn’t read this post just a little above yours?


7 posts were split to a new topic: How much work is required to configure Flatpak

Detailed discussion about whether Flatpak configuration is onerous or not is moved to a new topic, since folks seem to want to discuss it.

I do hope you guys step up your game with Snaps. Right now, the “app awareness refresh” is still annoying as I’m not sure if the Snap was getting updated after I close it. Sometimes I close Firefox, then wait for few min to grab coffee, then it still tells me that it needs to update. Got to the point that I just stopped caring if it needed to update, like if I see it I filter it out of my mind.

I do respect your decision, and I totally get it, but public perception just isn’t the best and I hope you try to improve on that.


I believe that this (the “close the app to avoid disruptions” notice) is actively being worked on.

(Also, this is off-topic here, but you can run sudo snap refresh in a terminal to make Firefox update for sure after you turn it off.)


7 posts were split to a new topic: Flatpak is a missed opportunity

Discussion of Flatpaks vs Snaps, and opinions about competence and villains and design and control that have developed well beyond comments on post #1.

people who opt to using flatpaks do so precisely because they do want the most recent (stable) releases, which I suspect is a lot of users evidenced by the raise of flatpak popularity.

furthermore, thanks to the sandboxing flatpak apps generally work great out of the box. the picture you paint of users having a bad experience with unstable flatpaks is mostly made up. and even then, flatpak not being selected as the default source in the app store is already plenty to “guard” inexperienced users. if it was really about that, they could just display a little notice warning the user when selecting a flatpak source for the first time.

imho there is no need for Canonical to control anything here. there is absolutely nothing technical stopping their support staff from being able to say “sorry you’ll have to seek support from that flatpak’s maintainer, we can’t help you” and having them as an integrated option at the same time. although I don’t think this would happen anywhere as frequently as you make it out to.

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An app doesn’t have to have anything wrong with it for it to cause problems for technical supporters. It just has to have something different from what the supporters are used to.

To give an example, there’s nothing wrong with the code and functionality of a mainline Linux kernel. It works. It works as intended except for rarely encountered bugs, and it works on Ubuntu… usually, that is. But when the fateful day comes that a user tries to use some feature that is unique to the Ubuntu kernel and doesn’t exist in the mainline kernel, things will appear to have broken. And indeed, they will be broken, but not because any of the software involved is exhibiting a bug. This is why mainline Linux kernels aren’t supported on Ubuntu - only Ubuntu kernels are. We know what to expect from them.

A Flatpak doesn’t have to be at all deficient or buggy for problems to arise. It just has to be different. Maybe a button isn’t where it used to be in an earlier version of the software available from the deb archives. Doesn’t sound like it would be that big of a deal, but the conversation would probably go something like this:

<user> Hey, I installed AwesomeApp a bit ago, and for some reason the Randomize button isn’t there anymore. Any clue what’s wrong?
<support> Hang on just a sec…
* <support> is opening AwesomeApp to check
<support> It used to be under Tools -> RNG -> Randomize, right?
<user> Yeah, but it’s not there.
<support> I’m looking right at it.
<user> Well I’m not :stuck_out_tongue:
<support> Hmm, check your settings and see if randomization features got disabled somehow.
<user> OK, sec…
<user> hmm…
<user> it says it’s enabled.
<support> ???
<support> I’m not finding anything on this - AwesomeApp 1.2.3 doesn’t have any other features that would disable the RNG.
<user> I’m on AwesomeApp 2.0.0.
<support> Oh. That’s not in the Ubuntu repos.
<user> I downloaded it through the Discover Software Center on Kubuntu 23.04.
<support> Did you enable any third-party repos?
<user> No, though I did enable Flathub.
<support> Ah, that’s probably the problem them. Can you run dpkg-query -s awesomeapp and tell me what it says?
<user> dpkg-query: package ‘awesomeapp’ is not installed and no information is available
<user> What, are Flatpaks somehow excluded from help?
<support> That’s why. Flatpak apps aren’t supported here, since we have no control over what people upload to any Flatpak repo and don’t know what to expect from their software.
<user> That’s ridiculous. You guys put the feature for adding Flathub literally in the app store, and now you’re going to leave me hanging?
<support> We wouldn’t support a PPA either. Only apps in the Ubuntu repos and some apps in the Snap Store are supported, since those are what we’re good at supporting. We don’t support third party apps both for the sake of our users and for our own sakes.
<user> Then why on earth did you put the feature in the app store?
<support> I guess the people who did that thought it would be helpful? Idk, I wasn’t the one to make that decision.
<user> You guys really need to think these things through better. But thanks anyway.
<-- user has quit (Quit: Leaving.)
<support> Sigh. That’s the third person I’ve had to explain that to so far.

(To be clear, I don’t think the initial decision to add Flatpak support was a not-well-thought-out decision, this is just what I imagine a frustrated user would say, based on what I’ve seen said in the past.)

No bugs were involved. All that happened was that one button moved somewhere else in a newer version and that newer version got into Flathub. User frustrated, supporter frustrated, and unneeded time wasted. This is a somewhat shortened version of what might happen - in all likelihood, things wouldn’t be so simple and there would be a much longer debugging session involved.

On the other hand, with Flatpak not enabled by default, we might have a conversation more like this:

<user> Hey, I installed AwesomeApp through Flatpak, and I can’t seem to find the Randomize button. Anyone know where it went?
<support> Hmm, is there a reason the version of AwesomeApp in the Ubuntu repos isn’t sufficient? Flatpaks aren’t supported by Ubuntu since they’re third-party apps.
<user> I wanted to try out the new features in version 2.0.0. Not supported?
<support> We know what to expect from the versions of software in the Ubuntu repos. We usually don’t use Flatpak around here and so we’re not used to the versions of software and possible quirks it may have.
<user> Ah, that makes sense. OK, thanks for your help!
<support> I wasn’t that much help, but glad to at least try!
<user> Thanks :slight_smile:
<-- user as quit (Quit: Leaving.)

Much easier for both the user and the supporter.