Are flatpaks typically HUGE?

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Mintstant Karma
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Are flatpaks typically HUGE?

Post by Mintstant Karma »

I'm a relative newbie when it comes to installing applications on Linux Mint. So far I've installed just half a dozen, all from the software manager.

The other day I searched for the password manager "Bitwarden," but it's a whopping 765 MB to download, and is said to require 2.5 GB of disk space. :shock:
I have the space, but WOW.

I checked out Bitwarden.com, and they offer a .deb package that's a mere 45.7 MB.

The versions are nearly identical: flatpak :arrow: 1.20.0, and .deb :arrow: 1.20.1.

Why the giant discrepancy?
Is this typical for flatpaks?
Is it because it's my first flatpak and I'm also installing some kind of platform along with the application?
And what is the advantage, if any, to a flatpak over a .deb? Or is this one of those hot debate topics? :)

I'm under the impression that it's always best to get applications from the repository as opposed to downloading files from websites, for security if no other reason (correct me if I'm wrong) -- although in this case I fully trust Bitwarden and the website.

FYI, I also searched Synaptic Package Manager, but I don't yet know my way around that program, and it wasn't clear to me whether I found Bitwarden or not, nor what I could do, nor the file size. I'm also ok with using the terminal, but I'd still like to understand the size discrepancy.
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Re: Are flatpaks typically HUGE?

Post by RIH »

viewtopic.php?t=275123#:~:text=Re%3A%20 ... 0installed.

As far as Bitwarden is concerned, on Mint 19.3, only a Flatpack (marked flathub) version appears in Software Manager.
Synaptic does not hold a version.

Normally, if there is a repository version & a Flatpack version then the Flatpack version is always more up to date.
This is particularly true as a Mint release gets longer in the tooth.

Because of the lack of the latest version of software in the repositories then I admit, for a couple of programs I go directly to the creators' web site to download. VirtualBox, Libre Office & Calibre are in that position on my system.
In general, I would agree that it is far safer to download software from the repositories.
However, personally, I would be reluctant to download a FlatPack from there just to get a later version.
If it was that vital to get the absolute latest then I would be inclined to try the authors' site directly..
Last edited by RIH on Thu Sep 03, 2020 11:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Are flatpaks typically HUGE?

Post by ajgringo619 »

Mintstant Karma wrote:
Thu Sep 03, 2020 10:07 pm
I'm under the impression that it's always best to get applications from the repository as opposed to downloading files from websites, for security if no other reason (correct me if I'm wrong) -- although in this case I fully trust Bitwarden and the website.

FYI, I also searched Synaptic Package Manager, but I don't yet know my way around that program, and it wasn't clear to me whether I found Bitwarden or not, nor what I could do, nor the file size. I'm also ok with using the terminal, but I'd still like to understand the size discrepancy.
This topic has been discussed many times here. If you're only looking for Bitwarden, why not just use their website and enable two-factor authentication?
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antikythera
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Re: Are flatpaks typically HUGE?

Post by antikythera »

flatpak size depends on the number of dependencies the developer has to pack in with the application. The whole point of them is they will run the desired application on any linux distribution that supports flatpak regardless of how old/new the version of that distribution is.
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Re: Are flatpaks typically HUGE?

Post by Hoser Rob »

If you installed that program from a 4.5M .deb it will end up larger than that because it'll pull in dependencies but, yes, flatpaks etc include their own runtime libraries so yes, they're quite a bit bigger.

The actual reason for the switch to flatpak etc by many devs is that there are way too many Linux packaging systems and no stable APIs etc. It's just too much for a staff of volunteers to maintain so the devs are switching ... there's a great line from (I think) a Debian maintainer that running an open source project is like herding kittens because the people involved all have other jobs.

Some users don;t like it but unless the problems I mention get fixed (don't hold your breath) it's just the way to go for devs who want to keep software running.
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Re: Are flatpaks typically HUGE?

Post by I2k4 »

I've avoided Flatpaks (and disabled the background startup) because the installs are too large to pretest on persistent live USBs before committing to them on a regular install, but I have been curious whether the giant 2GB of whatnot for a few megabytes of functional software is a one-time thing or if each and every Flatpak install would be even more of same. Frankly there were several years of "hype'" preceding the regular adoptions of both Snap and Flatpak, and neither has lived up to any reasonable expectations on the Ubuntu platform - just nerdy confusion for Linux devs and end-users, as compared with Mac or Windows.
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Mintstant Karma
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Re: Are flatpaks typically HUGE?

Post by Mintstant Karma »

A quick note: thank you all for the replies. I bit off a bit more than I could chew with all my questions. Although I think they've all been answered, I now have to do some thinking about it all, and I have other obligations today. I just wanted to let everyone know I didn't abandon them. I'll be back, with more thoughtful comments.
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Re: Are flatpaks typically HUGE?

Post by Moem »

I2k4 wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:57 am
I have been curious whether the giant 2GB of whatnot for a few megabytes of functional software is a one-time thing or if each and every Flatpak install would be even more of same.
Typically, only the first or first few Flatpaks take up that much space. After that, the next ones start sharing dependencies and don't take up as much extra room anymore.
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Re: Are flatpaks typically HUGE?

Post by antikythera »

It's also relatively easy to keep the space usage in check with a little housekeeping:

viewtopic.php?t=303943
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Mintstant Karma
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Re: Are flatpaks typically HUGE?

Post by Mintstant Karma »

RIH wrote:
Thu Sep 03, 2020 10:32 pm
viewtopic.php?t=275123#:~:text=Re%3A%20 ... 0installed.

As far as Bitwarden is concerned, on Mint 19.3, only a Flatpack (marked flathub) version appears in Software Manager.
Synaptic does not hold a version.

In general, I would agree that it is far safer to download software from the repositories.

OK, so it's the included dependencies which make the package so large. Does that mean if I use the .deb installer I will eventually end up with a total collection of software for Bitwarden that's comparable in size to the Flatpak? I still find that hard to believe -- 765 megabytes!? It's a password manager, not a video editor! {That's me talking to myself, not to you.} :-) But I'm trying to keep an open mind. From what I've started to learn about Flatpaks in the last few days from replies to my question and from my own admittedly limited research, I get the impression they include a whole bunch of dependencies (of various types) which may or may not be needed for a particular Linux distribution, and thus are just wasting space. Or to put it another way, Flatpaks contain ALL the dependencies that might be needed because the developer has no way of knowing in which distro the package will end up. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Thanks for confirming that Synaptic doesn't show Bitwarden, and that in general it is safer to download software from the repositories.
...from the repositories.
However, personally, I would be reluctant to download a FlatPack from there just to get a later version.
If it was that vital to get the absolute latest then I would be inclined to try the authors' site directly..
Now there you confused me a little. I'm not sure you picked up on the fact that the Flatpak is the older of the two versions in this case. In any case I'm wondering what would make you reluctant to download a Flatpak from the repositories.
And no, getting the absolute latest version isn't that important to me.

Thanks for the reply.
Mintstant Karma
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Re: Are flatpaks typically HUGE?

Post by Mintstant Karma »

This topic has been discussed many times here. If you're only looking for Bitwarden, why not just use their website...?
I didn't know how to answer that the other day because I'm not sure it had ever occurred to me! :lol:

Now that I've since been in contact with the Bitwarden people and was told the website has all the functionality of the desktop app (and I presume the mobile apps) -- at least if I have the browser extensions too, which I do -- I just might go that way. That could make this whole question about Flatpaks academic for the moment, but I still want to learn.

So you were off on a tangent from my main question, but it was a very useful tangent! Thanks.
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Re: Are flatpaks typically HUGE?

Post by ajgringo619 »

You could also try their AppImage, which I'd recommend over the .deb as it's not auto-updating.
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Re: Are flatpaks typically HUGE?

Post by Mintstant Karma »

antikythera wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 3:59 am
flatpak size depends on the number of dependencies the developer has to pack in with the application. The whole point of them is they will run the desired application on any linux distribution that supports flatpak regardless of how old/new the version of that distribution is.
OK, so you're saying it's not just that the developer has to cover a wide variety of distributions, but also a variety of versions of each. That would certainly make sense.

So now I'll ask you some of the same questions I've asked others since I began learning about Flatpaks.
  • If the dependencies aren't needed for my particular distro and version, will the installation process delete them? Or will they stick around?
  • If they stick around, does that have an effect on the size of my next Flatpak installation? Will the next one "see" those are already there, resulting in a smaller download for the second one?
  • Related to the last question: Is there a sharing of dependencies between packages? Or is each Flatpak package completely independent of each other?
  • If there is a sharing of dependencies does this become a terrible mess over time of countless bits of software which may conflict with one another or create security issues?
  • If there is no sharing, does this mean there's a lot of redundancy and wasted space as these Flatpaks are all downloading the same files over and over?
I know that's a lot of questions, and believe me I'm trying to learn more from "expert" sources, but I'm finding a lot of the videos and articles really sketchy so far.
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Re: Are flatpaks typically HUGE?

Post by Mintstant Karma »

Hoser Rob wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:43 am
If you installed that program from a 4.5M .deb it will end up larger than that because it'll pull in dependencies but, yes, flatpaks etc include their own runtime libraries so yes, they're quite a bit bigger.

The actual reason for the switch to flatpak etc by many devs is that there are way too many Linux packaging systems and no stable APIs etc. It's just too much for a staff of volunteers to maintain so the devs are switching ... there's a great line from (I think) a Debian maintainer that running an open source project is like herding kittens because the people involved all have other jobs.

Some users don;t like it but unless the problems I mention get fixed (don't hold your breath) it's just the way to go for devs who want to keep software running.
:) Herding kittens. Yeah, it's kinda like that for me at the moment, too. I guess that's just the way it goes when a newbie asks a question: the answer sometimes generates two or three more questions.

Speaking of which, I listed some more in recent replies, especially in bullet points above... if you're so inclined to tackle them.

Thanks
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Re: Are flatpaks typically HUGE?

Post by Mintstant Karma »

I2k4 wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:57 am
I've avoided Flatpaks (and disabled the background startup) because the installs are too large to pretest on persistent live USBs before committing to them on a regular install, but I have been curious whether the giant 2GB of whatnot for a few megabytes of functional software is a one-time thing or if each and every Flatpak install would be even more of same. Frankly there were several years of "hype'" preceding the regular adoptions of both Snap and Flatpak, and neither has lived up to any reasonable expectations on the Ubuntu platform - just nerdy confusion for Linux devs and end-users, as compared with Mac or Windows.
Well said -- or at least I concur. Of course I can't speak to "hype vs. expectations met" since I have no experience. About persistent live USBs: man, that's all I used for my first several years with Linux, and yeah I was afraid to install even a tiny application, much less one that huge.
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Re: Are flatpaks typically HUGE?

Post by ajgringo619 »

Mintstant Karma wrote:
Mon Sep 07, 2020 4:53 pm
OK, so you're saying it's not just that the developer has to cover a wide variety of distributions, but also a variety of versions of each. That would certainly make sense.

So now I'll ask you some of the same questions I've asked others since I began learning about Flatpaks.
  • If the dependencies aren't needed for my particular distro and version, will the installation process delete them? Or will they stick around?
This is supposed to be done automatically whenever your flatpaks are updated/removed, but you can do this manually:
flatpak remove --unused
Mintstant Karma wrote:
Mon Sep 07, 2020 4:53 pm
  • Related to the last question: Is there a sharing of dependencies between packages? Or is each Flatpak package completely independent of each other?
Flatpaks share what they can, as long as the version of said runtime is the same.
Mintstant Karma wrote:
Mon Sep 07, 2020 4:53 pm
  • If there is a sharing of dependencies does this become a terrible mess over time of countless bits of software which may conflict with one another or create security issues?
I've never had this happen.
Mintstant Karma wrote:
Mon Sep 07, 2020 4:53 pm
I know that's a lot of questions, and believe me I'm trying to learn more from "expert" sources, but I'm finding a lot of the videos and articles really sketchy so far.
Asking questions is the best way to learn. Here's a snapshot of my current flatpak setup:

Code: Select all

$ flatpak --user list --columns=application,version,branch,size
Application ID                                 Version           Branch         Installed size
com.calibre_ebook.calibre                      4.23.0            stable         351.9 MB
com.github.tchx84.Flatseal                     1.6.2             stable           2.9 MB
com.jetbrains.PyCharm-Community                2020.2.1          stable         907.1 MB
com.makemkv.MakeMKV                            1.15.2            stable         236.7 MB
fr.free.Homebank                                                 stable          40.8 MB
org.blender.Blender                            2.90              stable         513.1 MB
org.blender.Blender.Codecs                                       stable          23.2 MB
org.freedesktop.Platform                       19.08.12          19.08          695.0 MB
org.freedesktop.Platform                       20.08.0           20.08          731.6 MB
org.freedesktop.Platform.GL.default                              19.08          255.7 MB
org.freedesktop.Platform.GL.default                              20.08          117.2 MB
org.freedesktop.Platform.ffmpeg-full                             20.08           10.6 MB
org.freedesktop.Platform.html5-codecs                            18.08            8.8 MB
org.freedesktop.Platform.openh264              2.1.0             2.0            778.2 kB
org.freedesktop.Sdk                            19.08.12          19.08            1.7 GB
org.gimp.GIMP                                  2.10.20           stable         324.7 MB
org.gimp.GIMP.Manual                                             2.10           512 bytes
org.gnome.Platform                                               3.36           934.6 MB
org.gnucash.GnuCash          4.1-1             stable         323.2 MB
org.gtk.Gtk3theme.Mint-Y                                         3.22           318.0 kB
org.kde.Platform                                                 5.12             1.2 GB
org.kde.Platform                                                 5.14             1.0 GB
org.libreoffice.LibreOffice                    7.0.1.2           stable         696.6 MB
org.mapeditor.Tiled                                              stable           8.9 MB
org.qgis.qgis                                  3.14.0            stable           1.8 GB
As you can see, there are multiple versions of some of the runtimes (KDE and Gnome, in particular). Everything else is shares as needed. For example, here's a list of the runtimes my apps are using:

Code: Select all

com.calibre_ebook.calibre:        org.freedesktop.Platform/x86_64/20.08
com.github.tchx84.Flatseal:       org.gnome.Platform/x86_64/3.36
com.jetbrains.PyCharm-Community:  org.freedesktop.Sdk/x86_64/19.08
com.makemkv.MakeMKV:              org.kde.Platform/x86_64/5.14
fr.free.Homebank:                 org.gnome.Platform/x86_64/3.36
org.blender.Blender:              org.freedesktop.Platform/x86_64/20.08
org.gimp.GIMP:                    org.gnome.Platform/x86_64/3.36
org.gnucash.GnuCash:               org.gnome.Platform/x86_64/3.36
org.libreoffice.LibreOffice:      org.freedesktop.Platform/x86_64/19.08
org.mapeditor.Tiled:              org.kde.Platform/x86_64/5.12
org.qgis.qgis:                    org.kde.Platform/x86_64/5.14
Mint 20 XFCE [kernel 5.4.0-54-generic]
Ryzen 7 2700X Eight-Core w/16 GB RAM
GTX 1070 w/8GB RAM [Folding]
GTX 1050Ti w/4GB RAM [Nvidia v455.38]
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Mintstant Karma
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Re: Are flatpaks typically HUGE?

Post by Mintstant Karma »

Typically, only the first or first few Flatpaks take up that much space. After that, the next ones start sharing dependencies and don't take up as much extra room anymore.
OK, it looks like you answered one of the questions I posted in a bulleted list. I'd be interested to read your thoughts on the relevant remaining ones.

Also, I noticed something very interesting when using the Linux Mint software manager. After clicking on an application name, any Flatpak takes a few seconds to generate the output of the "size" field (size to download and disk space required), whereas any non-Flatpak entry is populated immediately. :idea: As I saw this behavior over and over again I hypothesized that it's because the software manager is scanning my system for the dependencies needed by the package I clicked on, in order to determine how much more it needs to download. Could I be onto something, or is it just a nice fantasy? :-)

I also noticed that not a single Flatpak was smaller than a 700 MB download (some were over a GB), and as noted above I haven't installed any Flatpaks yet. So if my hypothesis is correct, I'm thinking the bottom would drop out of those size numbers and I might see some packages that were 500 MB, 400, or less -- hopefully much less. Is the software manager that "smart" and do Flatpaks have such functionality?
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Re: Are flatpaks typically HUGE?

Post by Mintstant Karma »

antikythera wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 3:55 pm
It's also relatively easy to keep the space usage in check with a little housekeeping:

viewtopic.php?t=303943
I've opened that discussion in a new tab and will look at it closer after I walk away from this forum for a while -- to clear my head. :shock: :)
It's the human equivalent of a reboot. :wink:
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Re: Are flatpaks typically HUGE?

Post by RIH »

Now there you confused me a little. I'm not sure you picked up on the fact that the Flatpak is the older of the two versions in this case. In any case I'm wondering what would make you reluctant to download a Flatpak from the repositories.
And no, getting the absolute latest version isn't that important to me.
No, I was talking about when there is a Flatpack & a non-Flatpack version in the repositories.
The Flatpack version will undoubtedly be the latest version in that case.
With your specific case with Bitwarden there is no non-Flatpack version available from the repositories so you are comparing the Flatpack version in the repositories with a download from the author's site.

I am reluctant to download a Flatpack version because of its' size & so, if a needed a later version than the non-Flatpack version then I tend to go to the author's site. Otherwise, so in most cases, I am happy to go with the repository non-Flatpack version..
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Re: Are flatpaks typically HUGE?

Post by Mintstant Karma »

ajgringo619 wrote:
Mon Sep 07, 2020 5:17 pm
Mintstant Karma wrote:
Mon Sep 07, 2020 4:53 pm
  • If there is a sharing of dependencies does this become a terrible mess over time of countless bits of software which may conflict with one another or create security issues?
I've never had this happen.
Hmm, as I think about your answer and now even my question, I wonder: how would you know? So why did I ask? :lol:
Well because I assume someone more experienced than myself would know somehow, and I guess you're saying you've never had any problems that you're aware of. That is encouraging.
Mintstant Karma wrote:
Mon Sep 07, 2020 4:53 pm
I know that's a lot of questions, and believe me I'm trying to learn more from "expert" sources, but I'm finding a lot of the videos and articles really sketchy so far.
Asking questions is the best way to learn. Here's a snapshot of my current flatpak setup:

Code: Select all

$ flatpak --user list --columns=application,version,branch,size
Application ID                                 Version           Branch         Installed size
com.calibre_ebook.calibre                      4.23.0            stable         351.9 MB
com.github.tchx84.Flatseal                     1.6.2             stable           2.9 MB
com.jetbrains.PyCharm-Community                2020.2.1          stable         907.1 MB
com.makemkv.MakeMKV                            1.15.2            stable         236.7 MB
fr.free.Homebank                                                 stable          40.8 MB
org.blender.Blender                            2.90              stable         513.1 MB
org.blender.Blender.Codecs                                       stable          23.2 MB
org.freedesktop.Platform                       19.08.12          19.08          695.0 MB
org.freedesktop.Platform                       20.08.0           20.08          731.6 MB
org.freedesktop.Platform.GL.default                              19.08          255.7 MB
org.freedesktop.Platform.GL.default                              20.08          117.2 MB
org.freedesktop.Platform.ffmpeg-full                             20.08           10.6 MB
org.freedesktop.Platform.html5-codecs                            18.08            8.8 MB
org.freedesktop.Platform.openh264              2.1.0             2.0            778.2 kB
org.freedesktop.Sdk                            19.08.12          19.08            1.7 GB
org.gimp.GIMP                                  2.10.20           stable         324.7 MB
org.gimp.GIMP.Manual                                             2.10           512 bytes
org.gnome.Platform                                               3.36           934.6 MB
org.gnucash.GnuCash          4.1-1             stable         323.2 MB
org.gtk.Gtk3theme.Mint-Y                                         3.22           318.0 kB
org.kde.Platform                                                 5.12             1.2 GB
org.kde.Platform                                                 5.14             1.0 GB
org.libreoffice.LibreOffice                    7.0.1.2           stable         696.6 MB
org.mapeditor.Tiled                                              stable           8.9 MB
org.qgis.qgis                                  3.14.0            stable           1.8 GB
As you can see, there are multiple versions of some of the runtimes (KDE and Gnome, in particular). Everything else is shares as needed. For example, here's a list of the runtimes my apps are using:

Code: Select all

com.calibre_ebook.calibre:        org.freedesktop.Platform/x86_64/20.08
com.github.tchx84.Flatseal:       org.gnome.Platform/x86_64/3.36
com.jetbrains.PyCharm-Community:  org.freedesktop.Sdk/x86_64/19.08
com.makemkv.MakeMKV:              org.kde.Platform/x86_64/5.14
fr.free.Homebank:                 org.gnome.Platform/x86_64/3.36
org.blender.Blender:              org.freedesktop.Platform/x86_64/20.08
org.gimp.GIMP:                    org.gnome.Platform/x86_64/3.36
org.gnucash.GnuCash:               org.gnome.Platform/x86_64/3.36
org.libreoffice.LibreOffice:      org.freedesktop.Platform/x86_64/19.08
org.mapeditor.Tiled:              org.kde.Platform/x86_64/5.12
org.qgis.qgis:                    org.kde.Platform/x86_64/5.14



Well first thank you for your indulgence of my questions.

As for that list, I think I see some of what you're talking about, but I fear some of it went over my head. I'll just assume you're showing solid evidence of the peaceful coexistence of multiple versions of runtimes.

I'll assume further that the terminal command you showed above (flatpak remove --unused) "knows" to leave behind anything that is currently being used by even just one application, true? Also encouraging.

Thanks for your helpful answers.
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