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How to manage Flatpak permissions on Linux

Flatseal is an exciting application that allows any Linux user to manage Flatpak application permissions. It is an excellent tool that puts Linux users in control of their apps, in a world where programs ask for more and more access to our systems.

In this guide, we’ll go over how to install Flatseal. We’ll also show you how to use it to manage the permissions of your favorite Flatpak apps.

Installing Flatseal

The Flatseal application must be installed on your Linux PC before we can begin managing the permissions of individual Flatpak programs. Thankfully, the Flatseal tool is in the Flathub app store and quite easy to set up. The source code is also available, and the instructions to compile it are very straightforward.

To start the installation of Flatseal on your Linux computer, open up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. Then, follow the installation instructions outlined below that correspond with the setup method you prefer.

Installation via Flathub

The installation of Flatseal via the Flathub application store is the best way to go, as there isn’t any source code to compile, and the app works straight out of the box. To start the installation, you must install the Flatpak runtime on your Linux computer.

The Flatpak runtime is easily installed on a majority of popular Linux operating systems via the command-line. To set it up on your machine, search for the “flatpak” package. Then, install it the way you typically install packages. Alternatively, if you have issues setting up Flatpak on your Linux system, follow our in-depth guide on how to get Flatpak working.

When the Flatpak runtime is up and running, you must subscribe to the Flathub app store. To do this, use the flatpak remote-add command below.

sudo flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo

After setting up the Flathub app store on your Linux system, you will be able to easily install the Flatseal program using the flatpak install command below. Keep in mind that installing this program also means installing the various runtime libraries and packages that it requires.

sudo flatpak install flathub com.github.tchx84.Flatseal -y

Once the command above finishes running, the Flatpak version of Flatseal will be ready to use on your Linux PC. To start up the app, look for “Flatseal” in your app menu. Or, run the following execution command below in a terminal window.

flatpak run com.github.tchx84.Flatseal

Installation via Source

The Flatpak release of Flatseal is a great way to get the app working. However, if you want to tinker with the code, you will need to build from source. Here’s how.

Step 1: Download the source code via the git clone command.

git clone https://github.com/tchx84/Flatseal.git

Step 2: Move your terminal session into the “Flatseal” folder using the CD command.

cd Flatseal

Step 3: Use the flatpak-builder command to compile the program.

flatpak-builder --force-clean --repo=repo build com.github.tchx84.Flatseal.json

Step 4: Run the flatpak build-bundle command to finish the building.

flatpak build-bundle repo flatseal.flatpak com.github.tchx84.Flatseal

Step 5: Install the Flatseal program with flatpak install.

flatpak install flatseal.flatpak

Managing Flatpak permissions with Flatseal

Now that the Flatseal application is installed on your Linux PC, we can use it to control the permissions of the different Flatpak applications set up on your system.

To start, launch the Flatseal application on your Linux PC (if it is not open already) by searching for “Flatseal” in your app menu, or by executing it via the run command below.

flatpak run com.github.tchx84.Flatseal

With the app open, follow the step-by-step instructions outlined below to learn how to manage the permissions of Flatpak apps in Linux.

Step 1: Locate the side-bar in the Flatseal app on the left, and locate the app you want to manage. When you’ve found your app, click on it with the mouse to open its settings inside of the program.

Step 2: As you click on your app in Flatseal, all of the app permissions will load into the main app. Scroll through and look at them.

Step 3: When you’ve found permissions you would like to shut off, click the slider and change the slider from on to off. You’ll know the permission is turned off when the slider no longer shows a blue color. Be warned that turning off permissions that are essential for an app may cause it to stop working, or show an error.

Step 4: Look through the permission list and turn on any permissions you would like the app to have access to. However, be warned! Enabling permissions that you do not understand can be very dangerous! Only turn on Flatpak app permissions if you are sure what they do!

After messing with the permissions in your app, launch it, and you’ll see the changes made. Keep in mind that you can revert the permission changes for any Flatpak app by selecting it in Flatseal, and clicking on the “Reset” button at the top of the screen.

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