Linux Flatpak Application Package
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What is an FLATPAKREF file?
A FLATPAKREF file is an application package used to distribute and install an app on a Linux-based platform. It stores an app in the Flatpak Ref container format, which is similar to the .FLATPAK format, but includes additional installation information. FLATPAKREF files also store metadata about the app that is displayed in an app store it is published on to describe the app to a user.
The Flatpak format is developed to simplify the process of app distribution to the many variants of the Linux operating system. By providing a consistent distribution format, app developers utilizing the format can better deploy updates to their app and more easily reproduce bugs reported by their users.
The Flatpak Ref format is particularly tailored to the distribution of Linux apps on online app stores like Flathub. Most users that encounter FLATPAKREF files do so when downloading an application from Flathub. Developers can submit their apps to the Flathub online service, and once their app is approved, users can find the apps and download them as FLATPAKREF files.
You can install an app packaged in a FLATPACKREF file by double-clicking the file, which opens the Software Center, then gives you the option to install the app. You can also right-click the FLATPACKREF file and select Open With Software Install. Both of these methods require Gnome software and Flatpak to be installed on your system.
NOTE: Linux app developers may also distribute their apps as FLATPAK files, but these files are not optimized for distribution via online app stores since they do not contain the additional app and installation information.