Enable Flatpak support by default, or include a button to turn it on in Manjaro Hello

This would save a bit of time and hassle right after installation.

I found flatpak to be essential for accessing software I need that isn’t in the repositories, and I would imagine many other Linux non-experts coming to Manjaro may find themselves in the same boat. It also strikes me as a simpler, cleaner way to get software; some Linux outlets I’ve followed seem to be under the impression that it’s “The Future” of software distribution on Linux.

Coming to Linux from Windows for the first time a few weeks ago, it took me quite a while to figure out how I was supposed to get the software I needed. Flatpak seemed to be the best answer, by and large. But Manjaro seems to regard it as an afterthought; a new user like me might need to do hours of research before figuring out that they should enable it, and how to do so.

Opting for the button in Manjaro Hello ought to come with some kind of “recommended for non-experts” tag, along with a quick blurb about what flatpak is and warning that some programs may not function with full native capabilities.

Easy/effortless access to software is one of the few remaining major hurdles to Linux going mainstream. I’ve come to believe flatpak is a necessary part of the solution. The official repositories simply don’t have all the software people might need, and Flathub has many of those programs nicely packaged. It’s the only way to get some of them without digging around in the AUR (which imo is not something a newbie should need to do in their first few days on Linux).

Both the Pamac Flatpak and Snap plugins are installed by default on the full ISO.

Tip: The first thing I do when installing new software is check the settings / preferences to customize it to my needs. :wink:

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Yeah, and that’s great – I’m really glad that’s the case. But neither of them come enabled in Pamac. Is there a reason the Flatpak preferences can’t just default to ‘enabled’ and ‘check for updates’?

I know, I enjoy digging around in software settings as well, and of course I found the switches pretty easily once I knew to look for them. But it’s still a minor nuisance to go in and change, adding a seemingly needless step to setting up a new Manjaro install. Why not eliminate it?

I approach software with a few general principles in mind:

  1. If a feature would be useful to a majority of users/potential users, and it can be added, it should be added.
  2. The settings and features most useful to the majority of users/potential users should be the defaults.
  3. Additional settings and options should be available for power users to configure the software to their preferences.

This mindset leads me to the idea that flatpak support should be possible to turn off, but come enabled by default. The same mindset leads me to think that the AUR should remain disabled by default, as is already the case.

Big Tech is desperately in need of competition, and free software is the best (and often only) alternative. But Linux can never go mainstream as long as it’s only built for people like us who like to dig around in software settings. In my mind, the ideal distro would ‘just work’ out of the box, like Windows or Mac, but with the added flexibility and power and freedom of Linux.

Sorry for the rant; I just want to be thorough. To be sure, I have nothing but respect for the Manjaro team – and I’m making this point because I admire how much Manjaro already does right compared to other distros. But I have a vision too, and just because I don’t yet possess the skills to help realize it doesn’t mean I’m not going to advocate for it in the meantime.

The arguments come in pairs like this:

  1. Against
  • not everybody uses that and the other - it should not be default
  • those that need something, should install it
  1. Pro
  • this is the future and everybody uses this and that - it should be default
  • those that do not need it, should remove it

In a couple of years being around i have seen this ad nauseam and can’t say one overcomes the other, and always, further arguments, go directly to personal preferences and needs.