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Apertis Flatpak demo

Apertis provides a demo Flatpak application. This demo includes a runtime containing the libraries required to run the GNOME Fonts application.

In order to install the demo application, the Flatpak repositories for both the runtime and application must first be setup:

$ flatpak --user remote-add --no-gpg-verify apertis-demo-runtime
$ flatpak --user remote-add --no-gpg-verify apertis-demo-app

You can then proceed with the installation:

$ flatpak --user install org.apertis.demo.gnome_font_viewer

During installation you will be prompted for which version to install. Due to incompatibilities between flatpak versions, it is highly recommended you select the version corresponding to the Apertis version your system is running.

Finally, run the application by executing the following command:

$ flatpak run org.apertis.demo.gnome_font_viewer


The preferred way of creating Flatpak runtimes and applications for Apertis is by using flatdeb, which automates most of the creation process and can generate ready-to-use runtimes and applications with a few command invocations.


flatdeb can be installed by cloning its Git repository and installing its dependencies as mentioned in the README file.

Once flatdeb has been downloaded, create a new folder (outside the flatdeb source tree) in which you will create your runtime and application.

First you need to create a suite definition so flatdeb knows which package repositories to use. Create a new suites folder, then a new file in this folder, named after the Apertis version you’re targetting: for Apertis v2022dev2, the file will be suites/v2022dev2.yaml. You can simply copy this template file which already contains everything needed for an Apertis suite, and name it appropriately.

Once the suite is configured, we need to generate a base chroot for flatdeb to work in. From the working directory, please execute the following command:

$ /path/to/apertis-flatdeb/ --build-area=$(pwd)/flatdeb-builddir \
                                  --ostree-repo=$(pwd)/flatdeb-builddir/ostree-repo \
                                  --suite=<SUITE_NAME> --arch=<TARGET_ARCHITECTURE> \

This will create a flatdeb-builddir subfolder containing a file named base-<SUITE_NAME>-<TARGET_ARCHITECTURE>.tar.gz containing the base rootfs needed for future operations. If you delete this file, or want to target a different Apertis version, you will have to run the above command again.


By using flatdeb, one can create and populate a Flatpak runtime by using available .deb packages. This makes the runtime creation simpler and faster by removing the need to build everything from source and automating dependency management.

The runtime is described in a yaml file located in a runtimes subfolder and containing the following elements:

  • id_prefix: the runtime unique identifier in reverse domain name notation
  • add_packages: the list of binary packages to be included in the runtime
  • add_packages_multiarch: the list of multiarch-capable packages (typically, those are shared libraries) to be included in the runtime
  • sdk: this section also contains add_packages and (optionally) add_packages_multiarch items; those are the packages needed for building the application, but are not required to run it.

The runtime recipe may also contain a pre_apt_script element, used for configuring the flatdeb environment before installing the packages. In the demo application, this script is used to add the development repository, as some of the required packages are only present in development and not in target, which happens to be the base system of the runtime.

The packages listed under add_packages in the sdk section are those needed for building the application. That includes development libraries and headers, the build system and compilers, and optionally additional development tools.

The packages listed under the main add_packages* sections are the runtime dependencies of the application. Those are mainly shared libraries, but they can also include executables the application would depend on, or even resources for making the application more useful. In the demo application, we added a number of fonts packages: as this application is a font viewer, we can therefore ensure the application can effectively find and display all installed fonts.

Once the runtime recipe is complete, you can generate the runtime with the following commands:

$ /path/to/apertis-flatdeb/ --build-area=$(pwd)/flatdeb-builddir \
                                  --ostree-repo=$(pwd)/flatdeb-builddir/ostree-repo \
                                  --suite=<SUITE_NAME> --arch=<TARGET_ARCHITECTURE> \
                                  --platform runtimes runtimes/<RUNTIME_NAME>.yaml
$ /path/to/apertis-flatdeb/ --build-area=$(pwd)/flatdeb-builddir \
                                  --ostree-repo=$(pwd)/flatdeb-builddir/ostree-repo \
                                  --suite=<SUITE_NAME> --arch=<TARGET_ARCHITECTURE> \
                                  --sdk runtimes runtimes/<RUNTIME_NAME>.yaml

This will generate first the Platform runtime, which is needed for running the application, then the Sdk runtime, which is needed for building the application. Those will both be stored in an OSTree repository under flatdeb-builddir/ostree-repo.


Applications are generated from a more classic Flatpak manifest, the only notable points here being that:

  • runtime must mention your runtime as <id_prefix>.Platform
  • the same goes for sdk which should contain <id_prefix>.Sdk
  • runtime-version will contain the suite name (Apertis release)

The manifest should be located under a new subfolder named apps.

The application is generated by executing the following command:

$ /path/to/apertis-flatdeb/ --build-area=$(pwd)/flatdeb-builddir \
                                  --ostree-repo=$(pwd)/flatdeb-builddir/ostree-repo \
                                  --suite=<SUITE_NAME> --arch=<TARGET_ARCHITECTURE> \
                                  app --app-branch=<SUITE_NAME> apps/<APP_NAME>.yaml

Once the command completes, the application will be available from the same OSTree repository already containing the runtime, under flatdeb-builddir/ostree-repo. Serving this directory through an HTTP server is enough to distribute your Flatpak runtime and application.


Starting with Apertis v2022dev2, Flatpak includes the ability to distribute application bundles verified with ed25519 signatures.

The current implementation is a technology preview and it is expected to stabilize during the release cycles leading to the v2022 stable release. The prototype is already available in Apertis as documented here, but it may be subject to potentially incompatible changes during the upstream review process.

This signature system relies on OSTree’s library functions. Therefore, the key generation and storage process is identical to what is described in the System updates and rollback design document.

Flatpak application signatures occur on several levels:

  • single commits
  • whole repositories
  • single-file bundles

Please note, however, that GPG signatures are disabled on Apertis. It is still possible to pull from GPG-signed repositories, but those signatures won’t be verified. Similarly, it is not possible to sign flatpak applications using GPG.

Creating signed flatpak applications

The simplest way to create a signed flatpak is to use flatpak-builder with the --sign=<SECRETKEY> command-line argument, where <SECRETKEY> is the base64-encoded secret Ed25519 key. This ensures the OSTree commit and summary are properly signed:

flatpak-builder --repo=myrepo --sign=m8/rp9I9ax2w81yujZyeXTfZlbeBjEBUPQSQKo14iHgHdrzpKYH6xvL83midrFNeMrU4QBtk4jZ+x2veQoP4oQ== build-dir org.example.sampleapplication.yaml

For more advanced usage, the same command-line option can also be used with the following flatpak commands:

  • flatpak build-bundle
  • flatpak build-commit-from
  • flatpak build-export
  • flatpak build-import-bundle
  • flatpak build-sign
  • flatpak build-update-repo

These commands allow one to create Ed25519-signed commits from an unsigned repository or bundle, or to create signed bundles as explained below.

Multiple occurrences of the --sign option are allowed in to order to permit multiple signatures of each object.

More details about those commands are available in the Flatpak documentation.

Publishing signed flatpaks applications

Publishing a repository

When distributing several applications, it can be useful to publish the whole repository using a .flatpakrepo file.

The only difference here is that the GPGKey=... line must be replaced with SignatureKey=<PUBLICKEY>, where <PUBLICKEY> is the base64-encoded public Ed25519 key.

Such a .flatpakrepo file could be:

[Flatpak Repo]
Title=Sample Repository
Comment=Sample Flatpak repository signed with Ed25519
Description=This Flatpak repository provides applications signed with Ed25519

Publishing a single application

One convenient way to distribute single flatpak applications is to use .flatpakref files. Those files include all necessary information for flatpak to be able to install and update the application.

Exactly as it is done with with .flatpakrepo files, using SignatureKey=<PUBLICKEY> instead of GPGKey=... will instruct flatpak to enable Ed25519 signature verification for this repository.

This line will instruct flatpak to add the corresponding configuration keys to the remote and perform signature verification when installing and/or updating this application.

Such a .flatpakref file could be:

[Flatpak Ref]
Title=Sample application from our example repo

Publishing a bundle

Flatpak applications can also be distributed as single-file bundles, which can be created using the flatpak build-bundle command. As previously mentioned, these bundles can be signed by adding the --sign=<SECRETKEY> option to the command invocation:

flatpak build-bundle --sign=m8/rp9I9ax2w81yujZyeXTfZlbeBjEBUPQSQKo14iHgHdrzpKYH6xvL83midrFNeMrU4QBtk4jZ+x2veQoP4oQ== myrepo example.bundle org.example.sampleapplication

However, when publishing a signed flatpak bundle, the corresponding public key has to be stored in a location easily accessible to the final user for signature verification, as the bundle file itself is signed and doesn’t provide any mean to retrieve the associated public key.

Installing a signed flatpak

Configuring a remote repository

If the repository publisher provides a .flatpakrepo file including the public key, then no action is needed other than running flatpak remote-add <REPONAME> <REPOFILE>.

However, if such a file is not available, one must add the --sign-verify command-line option to the flatpak remote-add command in order to provide either the public key directly, or a file containing the public key:

  • --sign-verify=ed25519=inline:<PUBLICKEY> is used to directly specify the public key needed to verify this repository
  • --sign-verify=ed25519=file:<PATH> can be used to point flatpak to a file containing a list of public keys (base64-encoded, one key per line), among which at least one can be used to verify signatures for this repository
flatpak remote-add example example.flatpakrepo


flatpak remote-add --sign-verify=ed25519=inline:B3a86SmB+sby/N5onaxTXjK1OEAbZOI2fsdr3kKD+KE= example

Multiple --sign-verify occurrences are allowed in order to specify as many public keys as needed. This can be useful when a new signature key is being deployed, while the old one is still in use: by specifying both the old and the new key, users can make sure at least one of those will be able to verify the signatures. That way, once the old key is revoked and only the new one is used for signing the repository, the corresponding remote will keep working as expected.

This option can also be added when using the flatpak remote-modify command.

Installing a signed application

Similarly to the process of using .flatpakrepo files, when installing a single application using a .flatpakref file including the public key, no additional action is needed. Flatpak will automatically verify Ed25519 signatures using the provided public key:

flatpak install --from example.flatpakref

When the application is installed from a previously configured repository, signature verification is also automated, as long as the corresponding public key has been imported into the remote’s configuration:

flatpak install org.example.sampleapplication

If the public key has not been previously imported into the remote’s configuration, one can also use the --sign-verify command-line option:

flatpak install --sign-verify=ed25519=inline:B3a86SmB+sby/N5onaxTXjK1OEAbZOI2fsdr3kKD+KE= org.example.sampleapplication

Installing a signed bundle

Flatpak bundles are not installed from a repository like most flatpak applications, but from a single, optionally signed, file. As there is no repository configuration to import public keys from, the user needs to specify the relevant public keys using the --sign-verify command-line option as stated above.

flatpak install --sign-verify=ed25519=inline:B3a86SmB+sby/N5onaxTXjK1OEAbZOI2fsdr3kKD+KE= --bundle example.bundle

This option works the same way with both flatpak build-import-bundle and flatpak install commands.


Flatpak reference documentation: