AppImageLauncher to Integrate AppImages in Your Distro

About a week ago through the discussions we have on our Boiling Steam Matrix Room, someone mentioned in passing that they were using AppImageLauncher. This was my fist time to come across this application. Following further investigation and testing, let me now share with you as well as you might just have a use for it.

What are Appimages

In case you are not too familiar with AppImages, it’s one of the ways on Linux to encapsulate a whole application and its dependencies into a single file. For example, you can download an AppImage for the HeroicLauncher, and then ensure the file can be executed (chmod +x in a terminal for example), launch it… et voila, no need to install it, the application will launch before your eyes. It’s as simple as it can get and proving to be a very robust method to distribute applications that work across numerous distros on Linux.

There’s however a catch. AppImages, being single-file executables, are not integrated into your system. They won’t appear in your launchers or menus – instead you will have to find them and launch them one by one, or create your own launcher scripts.

This is where AppImageLauncher steps in.

Integrating AppImages

AppImageLauncher comes as an AppImage itself (I recommend the lite version) but is also available in the AUR on Arch Linux or as a .deb/.rpm package for most other distros. Once it’s installed, you should be able to launch it (via the AppImage, or via the menu item “AppImageLauncher Settings” if you installed it) and get to such a screen:

AppImageLauncher: options

From there you can simply mention a specific folder where you will drop all your different AppImages in.

Next, you can check the second tab and ensure that the backend daemon, appimagelauncherd, it set to run as a service. This will keep monitoring for new AppImages into the default folder (and other folders if you want it to).

AppImageLauncher: options 2

And… that’s it. Once this runs, you will be able to see very quickly that any new AppImage dropped into the folder will be integrated into your OS launcher/start menu automatically.

Demonstration

In the below video you will see what happens when I download an AppImage for Minetest (FOSS clone of Minecraft):

  1. AppImageLauncher recognizes that I downloaded an AppImage and adds a button to open that AppImage I just downloaed with it.
  2. AppImageLauncher then asks me if I want to move it to the default folder where all AppImages are supposed to be stored, and integrate it in the system.
  3. I choose “Integrate and Launch”.
  4. A few seconds later, Minetest starts and works as expected.
  5. Searching the Start Menu also reveals that Minetest is now listed (and thefore properly integrated as a shortcut).

I hope this will prove youself to all of you who consider AppImages – and here’s AppImage Hub if you are looking for a list of software that’s available under this format.


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Feng Lengshun

I used it a long time ago, but I’ve come to strongly prefer Bauh for managing AppImage and to just have a single place to grab apps from Flathub, Snap, AppImageHub, normal repository, and some webapps. I still don’t get why people don’t just grab the idea of Bauh and apply that on the UX of Gnome Software to essentially solve the software issue as that covers most of the software people would want to install. Maybe on Arch that’s not a big issue since AUR covers most apps, but it can install AUR too so it’s very neat. For… Read more »