Robert McQueen, CEO of the Endless OS Foundation and GNOME Board President, has given a big update on what's going on with Flathub. A lot of work has been going in towards updating Flathub from a list of apps, into a full build service and app store complete with payment processing. This includes developer verification, user accounts and more.
You might remember my recent article talking about their funding proposal, where Flathub plans to expand the types of monetization they can offer to developers (amongst many other plans) but they need funding to finish up everything. They were asking the Plaintext Group to help with that but sadly they got turned down. That's not the end of it though, the show must go on and they're currently in discussions with NLnet about funding.
For 2023 so far they've been granted $100K from the Endless Network, but McQueen said they're hoping to to get at least $250K for this year, which is why they're seeking more funding partners.
So what else have the folks involved in Flathub been up to, and what are they planning together? A lot.
First up, some stats were revealed! They have:
- Over 2,000 apps.
- Over 1,500 collaborators.
- Averaging 700,000 downloads a day.
In the post McQueen believes that Flathub has "solved the largest technical issue which has held back the mainstream growth and acceptance of Linux on the desktop" by providing an easy place for developers to publish their work, and making it easy for users to get it. I'm sure Canonical and Snap will have something to say about that…
Direct Uploads are in progress too and close to being ready, helping developers with even more automation mentioning "they enable exciting stuff like allowing Electron apps to be built outside of flatpak-builder, or driving automatic Flathub uploads from GitHub actions or GitLab CI flows".
McQueen believes now the biggest barrier for the Linux desktop is economic, and that's why we have fewer developers and apps doing stuff for Linux, noting that "as a community we continue to have a challenging relationship with money". It's true, everyone needs to eat, and you can only do so much as a hobby while working a paying job elsewhere. And so if there's no proper incentive for developers they "would be forgiven for taking their time and attention elsewhere".
This does touch on another good point, talking about how this is an issue for "diverse and inclusive participation", since without everything in place for developers to earn a living on Linux we end up requiring "that somebody is in a position of privilege and comfort that they have internet, power, time, and income—not to mention childcare, etc.—to spare so that they can take part". It's all about "shared success", giving everyone the opportunity.
They're also looking into creating an Advisory Board, so there's some proper governing of everything. This includes moving the legal side of the operation from the GNOME Foundation, who have been handling it, into an independent legal entity.
On top of that there's plans for a form of Flathub Focus Groups, which will be launching at the Linux App Summit in May 2023, and some form of online participation too for you to have your say.
Will ensuring Flathub has everything in place for developers to actually sell apps make a difference? I think it could. Speaking personally, if I'm looking for an app now, Flathub is usually the first place I look, no matter the Linux distribution I happen to be running. It's a nice feeling too, being able to just tell people to "grab it on Flathub", instead of needing to find their exact distribution, version and then find a package for them. Hopefully that idea will keep growing too, so that more developers put their apps and even games on there.
What are you thoughts on everything Flathub?