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Flathub: Now and Next

LAS 2022:

Flathub was founded in 2017, and has since been established as the place to download around 1,500 apps which can be easily installed on any Linux distribution. In less than 5 years there has been consistent impressive growth in available applications, and Flathub is without a doubt an excellent resource for Linux users, developers, devices, distros and extremely cool apps.

The last 18 months have shown significant acceleration with applications like Open Broadcast Studio (OBS), Firefox, Bottles, Yuzu, and Telegram choosing to directly publish on the Flathub store to have a direct line to their users in a format that provides distribution-agnostic packaging with support for multiple toolkits and technologies. We’re also seeing multiple distributions including Flathub directly or with a single click, and consumer devices selecting Flathub to complete their app offerings.

However, along with the good news there are concerns about the true long term sustainability of the FOSS app ecosystem, and the dream of sustainable application development eludes many in our community. Software developers on proprietary platforms can have an idea on a Friday, hack on it over the weekend, publish it on a Monday, and collect a check at the end of the month. The idea of OSS developers asking for financial support used to be an uncomfortable conversation, but as mobile and cloud SaaS platforms have swallowed the software world we find ourselves at a crossroads. How can we enable developers to contribute in a way that is not just fun for them, but also sustainable? Shouldn't desktop developers have the same opportunities and successes that OSS has had in mobile and cloud?

This is the problem we are trying to solve, and what we've been working on for the past year. Thanks to the efforts of many people at this conference and support from GNOME, KDE & Endless, we have been able to focus on tackling the application distribution problem as a whole, not just as a set of technical requirements. Can we build something that can compete with users’ expectations of quality, convenience, ease of use, while keeping the values of open source that attracted us all to the platform in the first place?

So what’s next for Flathub – or what should be next? This presentation will discuss recommendations for creating revenue streams, overcoming financial barriers to true sustainability, along with recommendations for community inclusivity and growth. We must let our best innovators and collaborators fully participate in the Flathub community while keeping on a stable career path.

Most of the challenges we will be facing this year cannot be solved by code alone (don't worry, we still have plenty of those), but by work that requires multiple disciplines across multiple organizations. We need all skill levels, non-developers, marketing, etc. to make a multi-country, multi-currency app store that is fair and transparent without bringing the bad parts of the duopoly with it. We look forward to discussing how we can all tackle this together, and sharing our vision for the future.

Flathub: now and next

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