How it started?
Flathub is one of the main mechanisms used to distribute apps for Linux. It's powered by Flatpak which enables Flathub apps to run on most Linux distributions. It is supported out-of-the-box by popular Linux distributions, and it gives users a straightforward way to install their applications.
In November 2021, the GNOME Foundation reached out to the community to look for people who wanted to help work on the new Flathub project. We, at Codethink, felt we could assist, and agreed to help. We put together a team consisting of James Price, Daniel Silverstone, Kyle Mckay and Adam Roddick. James Westman, a contributing community member, was also invited to join in the development.
The plan, which was outlined in the linked forum post, was to allow first-party developers and maintainers of applications distributed through Flathub a way to earn revenue for their work. This offers incentive for developers to upload and maintain their application via Flathub and a way that users can show their support, all in one place.
The work so far
Codethink started work on this project in February 2022, and have so far added the following functionality:
- A login flow for developers via GitHub, GitLab, and Google.
- A Stripe powered donation system (which, soon will permit both donation and application purchase).
Work done by the community includes significant improvement of the Flathub website itself, and also significant backend work ready to support the installation of paid applications. Furthermore, work for verified applications has been done and support in in-progress for 'Verified' kudos to be available in the appstream.
These changes are visible on the current beta version of the Flathub website.
Next Steps / Future
The team's next steps are to flesh out the donation infrastructure with the aim to allow app pages to have their own link to donation/purchase, completing the flows for verification for apps which means developers can verify their ownership of apps through GitHub or GitLab (which means financial support will go to the right people), and adding more login methods. This is all outlined in detail in another forum post. You can see the updates and progress for yourself on the GitHub repository.
We ran a discussion session at Linux App Summit, and while not directly from us, there was also a presentation about the state of Flathub, which can be accessed and viewed on the LAS's YouTube. The talk, like this post, outlines the current status of the project and what's next.
This is a great opportunity for the Linux community to encourage the creation of a rich ecosystem of Linux applications. Old and new developers of Flatpak can receive financial support, and in turn they can deploy their application across the traditional Linux desktop space, and even the emerging Linux smartphone and devices (such as the Steam deck).
To keep up to date or get in touch with the Flathub project, you can go to GitHub, Matrix, and Discourse.
The Flatpak logo is licensed Creative Commons Attribution 3.0
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