Tips and Tricks

This page explains a few useful features of the Flatpak CLI.

Testing an app with a different runtime

You can (for testing) run an application with a different runtime than it typically uses. For instance, to run stable gedit with the latest unstable gnome runtime you can do:

$ flatpak run --runtime-version=master org.gnome.gedit

You can also use a completely different runtime (but same version number):

$ flatpak run --runtime=org.gnome.Sdk org.gnome.gedit

If you just want to use the sdk instead of the platform like the above, a better approach is to use -d.

Warning

Running against a runtime with a completely different ABI is undefined and unsupported behavior.

Downgrading

It is possible to downgrade an installed application (or runtime) to an older build.

First you look for the commit you are interested in:

$ flatpak remote-info --log flathub org.gnome.Recipes

Then you deploy the commit:

$ sudo flatpak update \
  --commit=ec07ad6c54e803d1428e5580426a41315e50a14376af033458e7a65bfb2b64f0 \
  org.gnome.Recipes

If you have Flatpak 1.5.0 or later, you can also prevent the app from being included in updates (either manual or automatic):

$ flatpak mask org.gnome.Recipes

Bisecting regressions in application builds

In case the newest builds of an application introduce regressions, you can use flatpak-bisect to discover which commit introduced the regression. It works just like git bisect.

In case your distribution doesn’t install the flatpak-bisect utility, you can find it distributed alongside the Flatpak source code, in https://github.com/flatpak/flatpak/blob/master/scripts/flatpak-bisect

First you update the application and get its history:

$ flatpak-bisect org.gnome.gedit start

Then, you should set the current commit as the first bad commit:

$ flatpak-bisect org.gnome.gedit bad

Now you need to find the hash of the first known good commit. For that, you can see the build history by running:

$ flatpak-bisect org.gnome.gedit log

To start bisecting, checkout the first known good commit you find:

$ flatpak-bisect org.gnome.gedit checkout 5cd2b0648618c9038fbc6830733817309ade29541cdd8383830bbb76f6accf0d

After setting the bad commit and the first known good commit, you can launch the application to verify if the current commit in the bisecting session is a good or a bad one.

To mark a commit as good or bad, run:

$ flatpak-bisect org.gnome.gedit good

Or:

$ flatpak-bisect org.gnome.gedit bad

flatpak-bisect will inform you when the first bad commit is found.

Adding a custom installation

By default Flatpak installs apps system-wide, and can also be made to install per-user with the --user option accepted by most commands. A third option is to set up a custom installation, which could be stored on an external hard drive.

First ensure that the config directory exists:

$ sudo mkdir -p /etc/flatpak/installations.d

Then open a file in that directory as root:

$ sudoedit /etc/flatpak/installations.d/extra.conf

And write something like this:

[Installation "extra"]
Path=/run/media/mwleeds/ext4_4tb/flatpak/
DisplayName=Extra Installation
StorageType=harddisk

See flatpak-installation(5) for the full format specification. Replace the path with the actual path you want to use. You can use df to see mounted file systems and mkdir to create a flatpak directory so the path specified by Path= exists.

Then you can add a remote using a command like:

$ flatpak --installation=extra remote-add flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo

And install to it with:

$ flatpak --installation=extra install flathub org.inkscape.Inkscape

Note

If your custom installation is the only one with the remote you’re installing from, --installation can be omitted.

And run apps from it with:

$ flatpak --installation=extra run org.inkscape.Inkscape

Note

If your custom installation is the only one with the app you’re running, --installation can be omitted.