With so many Linux distros and packaging methods available, it’s no wonder that developers often choose to distribute their programs in a format—like AppImage—that can be executed by any Linux system. But AppImages are painful to manage and don’t easily integrate with your system menu.
Fortunately, there’s a solution that can help you use AppImages as if they were regular Linux apps.
What Are AppImages, and Why Do They Exist?
It’s no secret that Linux is a fragmented platform, and this can be painful for you when trying to install software that has been compiled as a binary for a distro other than your own. There’s DEB for Debian-based distros, RPM for Red Hat, PKG.TAR.XZ for Arch’s Pacman package manager, and more.
Creating and maintaining binaries for different distros is time-consuming, and often, developers would prefer to publish one package which will work on all Linux systems, and can be started with one click or a single terminal command.
AppImage is a format that you can just download and run. These apps come packaged with all the necessary dependencies and you don’t even need to install them.
To launch an AppImage, you first need to make it executable:
sudo chmod +x someapp.AppImage
…then either double-click it in your file manager or if you’re still in a terminal, enter:
For GUI Linux users, this can be discouraging, and although apps exist which will manage and launch your AppImages for you, it’s not nearly as simple as opening your menu and clicking on the AppImage you want to launch, as if it were a normal everyday app.
AppImageLauncher is an open-source app, which can turn your dream of launching AppImages from your system menu into a reality.
What Is AppImageLauncher?
AppImageLauncher does more than what its name suggests, and once installed on your system, it’ll intercept all attempts to open an AppImage, giving you a dialog with the option of choosing how you want AppImages to be treated.
You can choose to either run the AppImage once or integrate it with the system menu so that if you want to launch the app in the future, you only need to select it from the menu.
Regular apps installed through the package manager are updated along with your system, but AppImages, as files you download once and typically run by clicking on the icon, are not.
AppImageLauncher changes this by adding an entry to the app entry in the system menu, which will check for updates and download the most recent version.
If you’re fed up with a particular AppImage and want it off your system, AppImageLauncher can handle that, too.
How to Install AppImageLauncher on Linux
AppImageLauncher comes pre-installed on Manjaro systems, and there are official versions available for Debian, Ubuntu, and Fedora. There is also a community-supported AppImageLauncher version for Arch Linux. elementary OS is not currently supported.
Install AppImageLaucher on Debian or Ubuntu
Add the AppImageLauncher PPA, then update your system:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:appimagelauncher-team/stable
sudo apt update
Now install AppImageLauncher with:
sudo apt install appimagelauncher
Install AppImageLauncher on Arch-Based Systems
AppImageLauncher is available in the Arch User Repository and you can install it using yay:
sudo yay -S appimagelauncher
On Fedora and Other RPM Distros
Download the latest RPM release from the AppImageLauncher GitHub Releases page.
Then, navigate to the Downloads directory using the cd command and type:
sudo rpm -i appimagelauncher-x.x.rpm
Once you’ve installed AppImageLauncher, here’s how you can use it to add an AppImage to the system menu:
- Download an AppImage you want to use. Locate the AppImage in your file manager, and launch it.
- AppImageLauncher will launch instead of the AppImage. If this is the first time you have used AppImageLauncher, click Customize to choose the directory where you want your AppImages stored, then click Ok.
- A new dialog will appear, offering you the choice to Run Once or Integrate and run.
- To move the AppImage to the location specified and integrate with your system menu, choose Integrate and run.
- The app will launch. The next time you want to launch the app, simply open your system menu and click on the app icon.
Having the app integrated with your system menu is great—until you no longer want it. To delete the AppImage:
- Open your system menu and locate the AppImage icon.
- Right-click on the AppImage icon.
- Select Remove AppImage from system.
If there are updated versions of the AppImages available, you will be able to update them from the same context menu.
AppImageLauncher Makes It Simple to Manage AppImages
Now you can use AppImageLauncher to easily integrate AppImages with your system menu, and there’s no reason to avoid using them anymore.
Instead of searching through the default repositories for software specifically built for your distro, investigate the vast libraries of AppImages available for all Linux platforms.