Flatpak apps are seriously gaining popularity on Linux distributions, but managing those apps’ permissions can be a challenge. But with this handy GUI tool, those permissions are easy to handle.
Flatpak is quickly becoming the universal package format of choice for Linux users. One reason so many prefer Flatpak over Snap packs is that Flatpaks are significantly faster than Snaps. Flatpak apps also run in a sandbox by default, which isolates each app from each other to make them a bit more secure. This allows changes to Flatpaks permissions to be made only by the user.
You’d be surprised how many allowances are available for a Flatpak. Network, interprocess communication, X11 and Wayland window system, PulseAudio sound server (or PipeWire), D-Bus session and system, SSH agent, smart cards, printing – the list goes on.
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But how do users manage those permissions? Normally, a user would have to manage Flatpak apps permissions from the command line. For example, if you wanted to give a Flatpak app permission to access the host file system, the command for this would be:
sudo flatpak override APPID --filesystem=host
Where APPID is the ID of the respective Flatpak app.
But there is an easier way.
This new way comes in the form of a Flatpak app called Flatseal, and anyone who wants to manage the permissions of their installed Flatpak apps should consider this a must use.
Let’s see how to install and use this handy Flatpak permission tool.
What you need
To use Flatseal, you need a Linux desktop distribution that supports Flatpak (which includes elementary OS, Endless OS, Fedora, Linux Mint, PureOS, and Zorin OS). That is it. Let’s manage some permissions.
How to install Flatseal
If you happen to be working with an Ubuntu-based distribution and Flatpak isn’t installed by default, you can take care of that with the following commands:
sudo apt-get install flatpak -y
flatpak remote-add --user --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo
After the installation is complete, reboot your machine and log in again.
Once Flatpak is ready, install Flatseal with the command:
flatpak install flatseal
Once the app is installed, it is ready to launch.
How to use Flatseal
Open Flatseal from your desktop menu and you will see the app with all your installed Flatpak apps listed (Image A†
Select an app from the list and you’ll see all the permissions it has access to. If there’s a particular permission you want to enable or disable, just toggle the ON/OFF switch and you’re done.
Some permissions (such as Other files in Figure B) allows you to select which folders or other options the application can access.
Browse the full list of permissions and customize them exactly as you need them. You will find sections for Shares, Sockets, Devices, Features, Filesystem, Persistence, Variables, System Bus, Session Bus and Portals.
As you go through each section, make sure you know what a permission option does before turning it on or off. Some are self-explanatory, while others may need a little help from Google or DuckDuckGo.
Ultimately, anyone using Flatpak applications should consider Flatseal a must-have to ensure permissions are exactly the way you want them. Otherwise, you’re either stuck with the default settings, or you’re learning even more commands.
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