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Adding Applications to GNOME Software

The GNOME Software app provides a cross-distribution software center from which users can browse and manage apps for their Linux system. This guide will help you produce the necessary metadata so your app can be listed in the software center. Note that this guide covers apps as opposed to other system add-on components such as drivers and codecs.

GNOME Software

This guide assumes an application package called Frobnicator, which contains an executable called frob. It also assumes you are running Fedora Workstation with the standard GNOME desktop environment.

Install helper utilities Install the following packages on your Fedora system to help assemble and validate the metadata for your application:

$ sudo dnf install desktop-file-utils appstream-util gnome-shell-extension-screenshot-window-sizer

Create a desktop application file

Write a .desktop file that follows the Desktop File Specification. The required fields are Name, Comment, Icon, Categories, Keywords, and Exec. Here is an example:

[Desktop Entry]
Comment=Frobnicate a PNG into a 3D object
Exec=frob %f

Your package should install this file in the /usr/share/application folder. You may assign the desktop file a short name such as frob.desktop in this example. However, new applications typically use a reverse-DNS style name, for example org.example.Frobnicator.desktop.

Create a PNG icon for the file at least 64x64 in size, with a transparent background. The icon should be named as in the Icon field above, for example frob.png. Your package should install this file in one of the following locations:


Verify the desktop file with the desktop-file-validate command:

$ desktop-file-validate org.example.Frobnicator.desktop

Create an AppData file

The AppData file provides XML metadata that follows the AppStream specification, and is used by the GNOME Software app to display the app to users in the software center.

Create an XML file for your application that follows the template below. Note that you should consult the AppStream specification to provide correct data for your application in this file. Here is an example for the Frobnicator app:

    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <component type="desktop">
      <summary>Frobnicate a PNG into a 3D object</summary>
        <p>You can use Frobnicator to turn a PNG file into a 3D object magically, if you have the appropriate Frob interface card installed on your system.</p>
        <screenshot type="default">
          <caption>Initial screen for the application</caption>
        <release version="1.0.0" date="2017-12-02">
            <p>This is the first stable release</p>
      <url type="homepage"></url>

Next, make the appropriate 16:9 aspect ratio screenshots for your package, showing the application in action. To make screenshot creation easier, use the GNOME Shell extension called Screenshot Window Sizer which you installed earlier. To resize the window of your application to 16:9 format, focus it and press Ctrl+Alt+s. Your application window is resized to a perfect 16:9 aspect ratio so you can screenshot it with Alt+PrtScn.

Store the screenshots at the URL referenced in your AppData XML file.

Validate the AppData XML file:

$ appstream-util validate foo.appdata.xml

NOTE: Do not install two applications with one single package. If necessary, split up a package into multiple subpackages or mark one .desktop file with NoDisplay=true. In this case, make sure the application subpackages depend on any -common subpackage, and that you deal with upgrades (perhaps using a metapackage) if you’ve shipped the application before.

Next step is figuring out where to host your package. For RPMS you could look into hosting them as part of the distribution hosting mechanism, but you can also host them yourselves. If you want to host your own application repository with yum/DNF or Flatpak, this guide will explain how.