The standard Linux package management technique requires developers to convert their applications into packages in accordance with the distribution that they’re meant for. But since there are a number of distros out there on the market, developers need to create a compatible package for each available distro.
Hence, if we want to use an application in our distro, we have to look for the exact package that’s compatible with our distro. If there’s no such package available on the Internet, we’ll be unable to use that app as the packages that are available will be incompatible with our distro. However, the good news is that we can solve this problem by utilizing a tool called AppImage.
In this tutorial, we’ll discuss what AppImage is and the benefits that the tool offers. We’ll also learn the step-by-step process that we can follow to use the AppImage of an application.
2. What Is AppImage?
AppImage is a tool that enables us to run applications consistently across all distributions. It manages to do so because it implements the universal software package strategy.
In this strategy, developers generally combine their applications and their related dependencies into a single file that can operate in distributions available across the market.
Furthermore, AppImage provides us with the ability to use different versions of an application at the same time, which can help us decide whether we want to update to the latest version.
Additionally, it allows us to use an application without even installing it in our distro.
3. Benefits of AppImage
A huge number of people are currently utilizing AppImage because of the benefits that it offers. The most noteworthy benefits include:
- AppImage enables us to run Linux applications on any distribution without any compatibility issues.
- With AppImage, we don’t have to perform any kind of installation to use various applications. As a result, they’re easier to run in comparison to standard Linux packages.
- There’s no need to have sudo or root permissions in order to run AppImage applications.
- With AppImage, we don’t have to install additional packages to run different applications because all of them come bundled with all the necessary dependencies that are required to run the apps.
- Since AppImage files are standalone files that combine all the required components, we don’t have to modify any system configurations to execute these files, which guarantees that we’re not disrupting the system in order to run AppImage applications.
Next, we’ll see how we can use the AppImage of a particular application on our device.
4. Using an AppImage
The process of using an AppImage application is simple. In this example, we’ll work with the AppImage for PyCharm, a popular integrated development environment for Python developers.
Let’s go over the step-by-step approach that we can follow to run an AppImage file on our device.
4.1. Download the AppImage
The first step is to navigate to an AppImage store and download the required AppImage from there. Since there are a number of stores out there on the Internet, we have the flexibility to proceed with any one of them.
4.2. Make the AppImage Executable
Before we run the AppImage, we have to make it executable:
$ chmod +x PyCharm_Community_Edition.2022.2.2-x86_64.AppImage
Above, we’ve used the chmod command to alter the access mode of the file that we’re working with. The +x option is used to add execute permissions to the file. The string that we see after it is the name of the file.
Upon entering the command, we’ve successfully given access to the file to execute. Now, let’s move on to the final step.
4.3. Run the AppImage
The simplest way to run the AppImage is by double-clicking on the application icon. However, we can also use the command line to accomplish this task:
The dot (.) that we see above indicates that the path written after it is relative to the location that we’re currently at.
Since the AppImage for PyCharm has been launched, we can use the application just like other Linux applications without worrying about its compatibility with our distribution.
5. Disadvantages of AppImage
The benefits that AppImage offers make it a powerful tool for Linux users. But there are some disadvantages as well that need to be discussed.
5.1. Limited Availability
AppImage stores provide us with a good number of applications that we can use. However, the stores don’t include all the applications that can be used on Linux.
Hence, if we encounter such a situation with an application, we’ll have to search for a version of the app that’s compatible with our distribution.
5.2. Limited Assistance
AppImage is an open-source tool maintained by people from all over the world. Since it doesn’t have an official team behind its maintenance, we don’t get to enjoy any official assistance.
However, the utility has managed to create a large community on the Internet where members discuss issues and provide solutions regarding AppImage.
5.3. No Auto-Update Functionality
The AppImage applications don’t automatically update themselves to their latest versions, contrary to the standard Linux applications. We have to update them either manually or by utilizing a tool such as AppImageUpdate.
5.4. No Standard Storage Location
AppImage applications aren’t stored at a standard location. Hence, we have to either keep track of the locations where these apps are stored or use a tool like AppImageLauncher to setup launchers for these apps at a location of our choice.
6. Tools for AppImage
AppImage applications are pretty user-friendly. However, there are some useful tools available on the Internet that can further streamline the process of using these apps.
AppImageUpdate is a useful tool that allows us to update an AppImage application in a decentralized way using information included in the app itself.
AppImageLauncher incorporates AppImage applications into our desktop environment to help us search for and run these apps using launchers, avoiding the hassle of running them manually.
AppMan is a helpful tool that acts as an application manager for AppImage applications. It’s considered an efficient tool because it uses a small amount of resources and utilizes its own libraries to do its job.
AppImageTool is a useful utility that enables us to create an AppImage for an application by combining all of its binaries and dependencies into a single file.
In this article, we learned about AppImage in detail and discussed its advantages and disadvantages. We talked about the process of using it and also looked at some tools that can make our AppImage experience better.
Currently, one of the most common requirements for Linux users is an easy and uniform method of using applications across different distributions. AppImage fulfills this requirement by enabling us to use a wide range of Linux applications without worrying about the distro that we’re working on.