Yesterday, I covered installing Snaps on Chrome OS and come to the conclusion that the “standalone” Linux apps and Chromebooks weren’t quite ready to play nice. In that article, I mentioned that I had covered installing Flatpaks and AppImages but that wasn’t 100% accurate. We have discussed how to add the Flathub repo and install Flatpaks but I haven’t detailed AppImages and how to find and install them. So, we’re going to do that today.
Snaps, Flatpaks and AppImage are all unique in how they are packaged but they all attempt to accomplish the same task. That task is to be a “universal” package that can be downloaded and will run on any Linux distro without the need for the packaged being in a repository. The packages generally contain all of the necessary dependencies as well as the scripts needed to run the application. While Snaps will need some work to be a viable option on Chrome OS, Flatpaks and AppImages are a great option for users wanting to get their feet wet with Linux apps that are easy to install.
Of the three application types mentioned, AppImages are probably the most straightforward to download and use. I don’t say “install” because you don’t technically install them on your system. Snaps barely work, if at all and Flatpaks do require a couple of preliminary steps before you can install your first Flatpak. AppImages need only to be downloaded then made executable. In most cases, this can all be done with two, simple commands in the terminal.
To get started, we’ll need to download an AppImage for the application you want to use. There are a variety of places on the web to find AppImages. Many app developers offer the package directly from the application’s homepage. Alternatively, you can find catalogs of AppImages at various app hubs but and Appimagehub is one of the more popular ones. They offer nearly 700 applications in AppImage form. You can find internet and system tools, video editors, games and more. To keep things simple, we’re going to install GIMP since it is an application we used frequently before Gravit Designer came along.
First, you will need to download the AppImage. Appimagehub offers two versions of GIMP. One with and one without extra plugins. I’ve downloaded the one with plugins but you can grab whichever you prefer. Once you’ve downloaded your AppImage, you will want to move it to the Linux folder in the Files App. (This is presuming that you have set up Linux on your device already. If you haven’t, read this then come back.)
Now that you have your AppImage in the Linux folder, we will run a command to make the package executable. This simply means that the script that launches the application will be given permission to do just that. Make the application executable using the command below. You will want to make sure you use the exact filename of the AppImage that you downloaded.
chmod a+x GIMP_AppImage-release-2.10.14-withplugins-x86_64.AppImage
Power tip: After you type chmod a+x, you can type the first two or three letters of your AppImage filename then hit Tab and tab until you see the file you’re looking for. It will save a lot of time if you have long files like the one above. The same works for the following command that we’ll use to launch your application. To launch GIMP, use this command and again, make sure you have the exact filename of the AppImage you are using. For our version of GIMP, the command looks like this:
Every AppImage is different but some, like GIMP, will prompt you to add the application to your system and create a desktop icon. Selecting yes will add a desktop icon to your app launcher. Occasionally, you will run into an AppImage that will output an error when you try to run it. It’s usually a missing dependency. If that happens, just look at the error and it will usually tell you what files are missing and you can Google how to install them on Debian. If you run into a dead-end, drop a comment or shoot us an email and we’ll see if we can figure it out together. AppImages are simple to run and very stable in most cases. If you need an app and can’t find a .deb installation file, AppImages might be a good alternative.