Install & Manage Flatpak Applications On Standard User Accounts

Flatpak is the new way to install and run applications on Linux. Unlike distribution maintained applications, flatpak is a great way to deploy Linux applications without worrying about “which” Linux distro specifically.

You might have realized almost all Linux distros provide the same software but differing versions. One such example is, a distro comes bundled with the latest version of LibreOffice (let’s say v6.0.3) and another distro comes bundled with LibreOffice but not the latest (let’s say v5.2.7). Flatpak is here to eradicate that issue.​

But alas there’s this situation when the computer doesn’t belong to you; you’re on a standard user account, and you encounter a situation in which the computer asks administrative password to install the program. Great news! Flatpak applications can be installed for a standard user account also called per-user mode and not system-wide. Read on below how you can achieve that.

Browsing Flathub

Head over to this given site flathub.org, you’ll see the home page cluttered with popular apps and some editor’s choice apps. Take your time and browse around it, you might even find apps worth trying. But for now, let’s assume LibreOffice is the choice.

Install Flatpak from Flathub

browse flathub applications

Click on Browse the apps button to get to the categories page. Click on Productivity and then choose LibreOffice. Scroll down, you’ll be shown the command on how to install it on your computer. Copy that command and paste it on your terminal program, then append “–user” at the end of the prompt before hitting Enter key.

So the actual command would be:

flatpak install flathub org.libreoffice.LibreOffice –user 

Once installed you can launch it and check the “About LibreOffice” from the program menu bar to see the program info. You’ll notice “Flatpak version”  on the dialog box.

install libreoffice flatpak

How To Uninstall Flatpak

Suppose the flatpak app you installed is no longer needed and it’s time to uninstall the app. It’s simple and easy, remember the above command we used to install LibreOffice?

Let’s assume we wish to remove LibreOffice from the computer, the below command would uninstall it:

flatpak uninstall org.libreoffice.LibreOffice –user

So the actual syntax for uninstalling any flatpak app is:​

flatpak uninstall <app name> –user

The disadvantage of installing and uninstalling any flatpak app is their very long weird application names. And in case you forget what the name for the application was you installed a long time ago, you could execute the command below to see the list of currently installed flatpak applications on your standard user account:flatpak list –user

Conclusion

Remember to always append –user when executing flatpak command on the terminal program. Otherwise, you’d end up trying to install an app as system-wide (or uninstall it), which requires the administrative password.

The only downside for installing an app as per-user mode is the installed app won’t be available on other standard user accounts i.e., you’d have to install it manually for every other user accounts. But that’s a bad practice, instead asks your admin to install the app as system-wide. 

Hope this article has been helpful and in case you run into issues, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

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