More and more apps today publish Linux packages as Flatpak. Though the run-time libraries take hundreds of megabytes disk space, some apps are really good and useful.
If you have some apps installed as Flatpak in Ubuntu or other Linux like me, then Flatseal may be useful to protect your privacy by managing permissions in per app basis.
Flatseal is a stylish GNOME app that displays all the installed Flatpak apps in the left pane. By selecting an app, it displays the basic information as well as permissions with toggle buttons. The app has an adaptive UI that works great on small screen size, e.g., Linux Phone.
With Flatseal, you may configure following permissions for your Flatpak apps:
- Network access.
- Sound server access.
- GPU acceleration to reduce CPU usage.
- System file or user file access.
- Send notifications.
- System bus and session bus.
- Print system, smart card, webcam, bluetooth access, and more.
Note: some options (e.g., inter-process communications and X11/Wayland windowing system) may be required for the app to work. Switching those options off may cause function issues, though you may reset them easily afterwards.
As some options are not easy to understand, you may press F1 on keyboard to bring up the ‘help‘ window, which contains the descriptions for each toggle option. And, if permissions are removed and somehow no longer possible to reset, run command below (press Ctrl+Alt+T in Ubuntu to open terminal) to clear the changes and restart Flatseal.
How to install Flatseal in Ubuntu Linux:
The app itself is available to install as Flatpak package. To try it out, you must have already installed some apps as Flatpak. If not, you need to install the daemon first. For Ubuntu/Debian based systems, simply open terminal and run command:
sudo apt install flatpak
Next, install the Flatseal by running command in terminal:
flatpak install https://dl.flathub.org/repo/appstream/com.github.tchx84.Flatseal.flatpakref
Or use the command below if you already added the Flathub repository:
flatpak install flathub com.github.tchx84.Flatseal
As you see in picture, the app itself is about 683 KB, while run-time libraries take more than 700 MB. The run-times (e.g., GNOME platform) are shared libraries though that can be used for other Flatpak apps.
To remove the app, simply run command in terminal:
flatpak uninstall --delete-data com.github.tchx84.Flatseal
Note: removing Flatseal won’t reset the permission changes you made for the flatpak apps. You have to manually clear the config files under “~/.local/share/flatpak/overrides” directory to restore them.
Note though: Flatseal doesn’t allow to change root/system level permissions of Flatpak apps, only user level permissions.