Flatpak (formerly known under its working title “xdg-app”) is a cool new way of distributing images of Linux applications that run on a wide range of different distros, and run there in a secure way. I have blogged and spoken about making LibreOffice available in this format before in various places (see, e.g., these two previous blog posts and this conference talk).
Now is the time to announce availability of a LibreOffice.flatpak bundle of LibreOffice 5.2 Beta at download.documentfoundation.org/libreoffice/flatpak/5.2.0/LibreOffice.flatpak!
To try it out, do the following:
- First, you need to install Flatpak itself. See here for details.
- Second, you need to add the Flatpak repository that contains the GNOME runtime (on which the LibreOffice.flatpak depends; see here for details):
$ wget https://sdk.gnome.org/keys/gnome-sdk.gpg $ flatpak remote-add --user --gpg-import=gnome-sdk.gpg gnome https://sdk.gnome.org/repo/ $ flatpak install --user gnome org.gnome.Platform 3.20
Update: If you use another locale than en-US, and want LibreOffice to automatically come up with a matching UI localization, additionally
$ flatpak install --user gnome org.gnome.Platform.Locale 3.20
- Then, with the LibreOffice.flatpak file downloaded from the link above, do
$ flatpak install --user --bundle LibreOffice.flatpak
to install it. (Don’t worry, it does not interfere with any other LibreOffice you might already have installed on your machine, like the one shipped with your Linux distro.)
- And now you can run it, either from the command line
$ flatpak run org.libreoffice.LibreOffice
or by clicking on one of its icons (LibreOffice Start Center, Writer, etc.) in your distro’s application launcher.
(And if you happen to have an older version of xdg-app installed, installing the LibreOffice.flatpak bundle into it should work, too.)
Behind the scenes, the LibreOffice.flatpak links to a repository on the download.documentfoundation.org server that will get updated with later versions of LibreOffice Fresh. So once a new version of LibreOffice Fresh is released (starting with LibreOffice 5.2 proper), you can simply update your installation with
$ flatpak update --user org.libreoffice.LibreOffice
A few items to note:
- LibreOffice.flatpak is based on the GNOME 3.20 runtime, using LibreOffice’s much-improved GTK3 backend. This should offer the most complete set of features in LibreOffice, paving the way to Wayland etc.
- The single bundle contains all localizations available for LibreOffice (as it doesn’t really affect the bundle’s overall size that much).
- Flatpak-based apps are not yet able to reach out to other applications installed on the machine (like browsers) to e.g. open URLs through them. That means that e.g. clicking on a hyperlink in a LibreOffice Writer document might not work yet. And since the LibreOffice.flatpak does not contain all the help documentation (for all the localizations!), but instead wants to use the online help through a browser, pressing F1 does not yet work, either.
- The LibreOffice.flatpak does not include a Java Runtime Environment (JRE). That means that some LibreOffice functionality that requires a JRE will not work.
- At this time, there is no Flatpak version of the LibreOffice Software Development Kit (SDK).