AppImage vs Snap & Flatpak

There have been many discussions on how Snap & Flatpak sucks. On the other hand, we also had a couple of people using either Snap or Flatpak, either because they preferred to or were indirectly forced to use it, for a variety of reasons.

AppImage isn’t the best and probably not the ultimate solution, but it seems far better than the other two alternatives.

I would like to spark a discussion about the ways AppImage is better than Snap & Flatpak. (Not a debate about which is better; I want us to focus on AppImage in this thread.)

It would be really nice of anyone who is interested to join, to structurally explain the benefits you get from choosing AppImage over the other alternatives.

Otherwise, if you had trouble using AppImage and had to revert back to Snap/Flatpak, please explain what exactly happened and why that is the case.

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There is an introduction to appimage here

My biggest problem with AppImage is its lack of integration with the DE’s menuing system or application launcher, total lack of integration. Sure you can grab something that will make it an “Application” - e.g. “AppImage Launcher” - but that’s yet another step the user is forced down… I kinda prefer AppImage too - but - SNAP, where it comes to Ubuntu, is better integrated with the DE. I mean, often the file action dialogs in AppImages aren’t integrated with the DE - e.g. even down to NOT sharing the file icon theme! And sure - I can create a *.desktop file and plonk it in ~/.local/share/applications (and if that doesn’t work, no guarantees, then sudo copy it to /usr/share/applications) - but I shouldn’t have to, and you can’t really expect NEW USERS to undertake shit like this - it’s just the sort of thing that will send them running back to MS Windows or MacOS…

Bryan Lunduke is a “champion” of AppImage, as in, he thinks its a “good idea” to beat all that dependancy hell garbage… I kinda agree… If your desired app is a giant PIG of a thing, and you simply must have it - then by all means AppImage! That’s how I play Path of Titans (although I must admit I’ve barely played it - been spending WAY too much time, and way too many dollars on DLC, for Cities Skylines [native Linux] just lately - like at 3:00 am : me, to myself: “look, I’m just going to make one more train station then I’ll hit the sack…”).

Also - the fact that BOTH Chromium AND Firefox, on recent Ubuntu, are SNAPs, means that the Gnome Shell Extensions browser extension is PERMANENTLY BROKEN! An easy fix for that is to use Google Chrome or Brave - but we shouldn’t have to!


AppImages are the way to go alternatively to Snap and Flatpaks. I use AppImages all the time, Kdenlive has it’s dark mode, works well with Kvantum and qt5ct. Other ones I use ClipGrab for instance does not have dark mode, but at least with AppImages you know that they’ll work and not take so much room up, or unneeded resources like Flatpaks and Snaps do. I’ve only ever had a couple of dodgy AppImages that never worked, Papagayo was a pain to get going, but found an alternative it works brilliantly, as it asks when you open it for the first time, would you like us to add Papagayo to your applications menu. If only more and more AppImages were like this, plus it adds it’s own dedicated icon for it.

I get it yes, that new users to Linux won’t necessarily know how to add apps to .local/share/applications. What I always wondered though and it has been the norm for many years, keeps Linux away from being up there with Microsoft, is the fact that Linux is a tinkerers operating system and I’m not trying to or putting Linux in a category, but to this day you have to know a bit about how Linux performs, know that Linux is never ever going to be anything like Windows. Linux will always be a DIM Do It Myself operating system, as it’s that freedom that new users to the Linux world from a Windows perspective way of thinking, finds hard to deal with or adjust to. Has Linux been Babied over the years? Yes, as it used to be here is Ubuntu, install it and wonder what the hell to do next? Getting over the initial shock that none of your favourite apps from Windows work, the scary terminal that still scares people to this day, as it did myself and probably others all those years ago. I’m just so glad that we have alternative ways of installing and using software or apps in Linux. Just wish that the makers of Flatpaks and Snap packages would consider also making an AppImage of their app, for those of us who do not want to wait for years or waste resources with all the unnecessary packages that Flatpaks and Snaps brings to the table.

Don’t like the decision of Canonical making Firefox a Snap package only, that takes the choice away for the user and why be a Debian based Distro and take the Deb choice away? They have already gotten rid of Synaptic, though Xubuntu 22.04 has it already out of the bag, which is nice to see. Though Xubuntu are also sticking with Firefox as a Snap in 22.04. If only users would wake up and actually see how dumb a decision Snaps and Flatpaks actually are? Bloating out your operating system, leaving it moving like a slug, forever updating. Give me AppImages every time. I can see in years to come, that to run Linux or at least Ubuntu you’ll need a 4 to 8GB SSD, to run the OS, as Ubuntu will no longer be a Debian based system, it will be a Snap package system. They will of course of by then of left Gnome and gone their own way.


That’s actually a great quote! :grin:

Another great point.

Taking away choice is most of the time a bad idea, especially in software design terms.

Actually, the “Debian-based” thing is what happened so many years ago, that Ubuntu already alienated itself away so much from Debian, that you cannot compare those two a lot in any way.
They have in common, that they both use apt and sometimes accidentally may run the same deb files. Otherwise, most deb files are not compatible with Debian and Ubuntu at the same time and the base operating system has also become pretty different. Ubuntu is already its own thing and not the “Debian-based” operating system we had in mind, years ago.

Yes, I see, have read that somewhere before, but sometimes it’s hard for me to find a post I read some time ago. :+1:

Indeed. That’s an issue. In Windows terms, an AppImage is a “Portable” application. Meaning, you can take it anywhere, but it’s not integrated into your OS well. You need to manually create shortcuts, etc. Or use a tool for that, adding another layer in the wall of things a user has or might need to do.

Actually, that’s what Linus said in the talk I posted earlier.

For those who had not seen it yet:

He mentioned this explicit example of how package management on Linux distributions is most of the time a mess. Even if you create monolithic binaries, that are supposed to run anywhere, just like AppImage, there are distributions with different fonts, different paths to icons, etc… And you cannot account for that, even with AppImage, apparently.

Precisely. This is a huge problem. It’s also the result of many Linux users’ anti-n00b attitudes.

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I dont understand. If all three are self contained , how is Appimage able to do the job with fewer unnecessary packages?

Since cutting over InkScape 1.2 from an AppImage, to installed binaries from a PPA…

Startup as an AppImage? A matter of MINUTES (that’s UNACCEPTABLE!)
Starup as a binary installed using apt? A matter of SECONDS (less than 10)

I rest my case…

Yeah - some snaps can be worse… Haven’t used FlatPaks much… I think I did on my Fedora 36 thinkpad, but I barely use that…

AppImages are GOOD for people like us… They’re a SHIT SOLUTION for new users… Having said that - sometimes I LOVE having Ubuntu take care of shit for me with the path of least resistance, like Ubuntu CUPS going out and finding my printer and putting it there automatically, in the background, without me having to lift a finger! I PREFER an installer and launcher that creates an application menu entry for me automatically, sure I know how to do that - but I’D RATHER NOT! Reminds me of 30 something years ago writing the perfect config.sys and autoexec.bat menuing systems to launch stuff with optimal settings, I probably spent more time tuning, for running various shit, than actually “running the shit”… :smiley:

Well that problem is still with us today. Hi-tech has not even made a dent in eliminating setup work… except perhaps where shifting the function from software to hardware has made it easier.

Not in my case it’s not… Man - it’s NOTHING like it was back then!

MS-DOS days (DOS 5 onwards - forget about this in DOS 4 or earlier) - one himem.sys setting for running Windows, another one for running some Autodesk software, another for Doom, another for some other game that used a different memory extender (e.g. Phar Lap)… Then setup a ram disk to run another game that runs really well in a RAM disk - who cares? I’ve got a WHOLE WHOPPING 8 MB of RAM!

Things back then were an order of magnitude less complex, for the user. Me? I just turn my Linux computer on (hardly ever - I just leave it running 24x7) and it WORKS! Nearly everything just works - the main tweaking I do is twiddling knobs for display elements and theming! That’s it…

Maybe you choose to run more complex system that require more tech hand on tweaking? I don’t…

I dont think thats it… . I am probably trying to recreate the past
And I am a devil for wanting to have everything under control so I have to dig into things

You are comparing DOS with Linux. Compare BSD4.2 with Linux. They are about the same when it comes to configuring.

With an AppImage you don’t have to install it, it’s already there as a app and can be ran from anywhere, not necessarily on your computer but externally, making AppImages more mobile, than Flatpaks or Snaps will ever be. Yes AppImages can open slower, but depending on what app you’re running? I turned to AppImages to use KdenLive, as KdenLive fully installed as a Deb comes with a hell of a lot of dependencies, takes a while to install fully, plus the fact that I’m like a cat a curious fellow, who wanted to see what AppImages were actually all about.

KdenLive AppImage already has it all there for you. KdenLive is still being maintained as an AppImage too, so many different AppImage Versions, that have different settings in each one. I used to run two KdenLive AppImages, both were a year apart of releasing, only because one had WAV form, which would animate your voice as wavy lines a spectrum if you like on screen?

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Covid brainfog - that was supposed to read “more complex”

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I completely missed that. Read it the way you meant, not the way you wrote.
I remember DOS, and CP/M. Those issues you raised were mainly due to lousy hardware and the OS having to cope. It was a great advance getting a continuously addressable memory space.

And not having to remember (and hard code) DMA and IRQ when setting up hardware…

My first adventures in NIX world (that weren’t on proprietary RISC CPU and bus systems from the likes of Sun or Data General) were on Linux, and in kernels earlier than 2.x, there was NO SUCH thing as “modules” (never mind linked kernel objects - and the WHOLE jury was still out whether to .elf or .a.out !!!) - if you wanted ISA audio and ethernet, and accelerated VGA (that wasn’t paid for in an accelerated x86 “server” software suite) - you had to rememvber ALL the IRQ and DMA ranges when you compiled the kernel you were going to boot (that was Slackware)… Once you set your i386 or i486 (I eventually got an i586) compiling a zimage, you could not only go into the kitchen and put on a fresh pot, you had time to drive 20 km to buy more coffee granules, and while there, you might as well have just gotten f–king beans, because there was no rush, when making a new boot image kernel from scratch…

Why Gentoo users think theres a fun element of any of this, could perhaps only be explained by a psychologist expert in victims of psychological torture…

It wasn’t fun… I probably need help as to why I even indulged in this reprehensible behaviour…

Nix has a new meaning now…



I compiled FreeBSD kernel in an i386, just to get an io card working.
Slow never worried me… those were more relaxed times.

Gentoo. Well I had one go on an i686 laptop. Now that is the real meaning of slow… like measured in days.
Going to have another try on a decent machine. Why? Its like climbing a mountain… because it is there. Only this time I want to try and make something out of it when/if the install drama is over

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Just experienced some ugliness with Google Chrome as a flatpak…

I thought I actually had it installed (it used to be one of the first things I installed) - but when I went to look, it wasn’t there, and when I searched for it in the “dash” HUD, it launched Software Centre or whatever rubbish it is that Ubuntu presents to users ( I’ve nearly always used Ubuntu [~15 years or so] but I ONLY EVER install stuff from the shell with “apt install BLAH” or “dpkg -i BLAH.deb”…

So - anyway - the install finished - I waited for it to sync - then tried tweaking it to use GTK them in “dark mode” and it shit itself… Couldn’t get the window controls to sit on the left (I HATE them on the right!) - so I let it sit there for 15 minutes more to sync… then exited… made sure it was killed properly…

Then fired it up again and it kept presenting dialogs about flatpaks and permissions and this file or that file didn’t exist, or have the right permissions… Piece of crap… So I apt remove’d it - went to Alphabet corp and downloaded the binary and installed that with “sudo dpkg -i ./google-chrome-stable_current_amd64.deb” and all good…

So - on PoohBuntu - firefox is by default a SNAP, they offer Google Chrome (and I thought they only offered Chromium - it’s been a snap on poohbuntu since forever) as a flatpak… Why?

I’d like to see a single paragraph that justifies the prevalence of snap and flatpak (and even appimage - but - appimage seem slightly better behaved than snaps or flatpaks in my experience) on the Linux Desktop - WHY? What did it fix that was broken? Why carry on with something that’s obviously plain garbage and BARELY any Linux users like - did they actually ask any users? Canvas? Take surveys?

Appimage is not a container like snap,and flatpak, it is an actual disk image… like you get of the whole of Linux with an iso file of a live distro… only its not a whole distro, its just one app.
I think the only difference between an appimage and a static binary is thd Appimage file comes wit a few install aids.
So it is way simpler than snap or flatpak and therefore has to be less bug prone. Your comments support that.

There is an article on Package Managers in the latest issue of Linux Magazine (Dec 2022). It discusses Appimage, Flatpak, and Snap

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