3rd Party Fedora Repositories and AppStream

I was recently asked how to make 3rd party repositories add apps to GNOME Software. This is relevant if you run a internal private repo for employee tools, or are just kind enough to provide a 3rd party repo for Fedora or RHEL users for your free or non-free applications.

In most cases people are already running something like this to generate the repomd metadata files on a directory of RPM files:

createrepo_c --no-database --simple-md-filenames SRPMS/
createrepo_c --no-database --simple-md-filenames x86_64/

So, we need to actually generate the AppStream XML. This works by exploding any interesting .rpm files and merging together the .desktop file, the .appdata.xml file and preprocessing some icons. Only applications installing AppData files will be shown in GNOME Software, so you might need to fix before you start.

appstream-builder			\
	--origin=yourcompanyname	\
	--basename=appstream		\
	--cache-dir=/tmp/asb-cache	\
	--enable-hidpi			\
	--max-threads=1			\
	--min-icon-size=32		\
	--output-dir=/tmp/asb-md	\
	--packages-dir=x86_64/		\

This takes a second or two (or 40 minutes if you’re trying to process the entire Fedora archive…) and spits out some files to /tmp/asb-md — you probably want to change some things there to make more sense for your build server.

We then have to take the generated XML and the tarball of icons and add it to the repomd.xml master document so that GNOME Software (via PackageKit) automatically downloads the content for searching. This is as simple as doing:

modifyrepo_c				\
	--no-compress			\
	--simple-md-filenames		\
	/tmp/asb-md/appstream.xml.gz	\
modifyrepo_c				\
	--no-compress			\
	--simple-md-filenames		\
	/tmp/asb-md/appstream-icons.tar.gz	\

Any questions, please ask. If you’re using a COPR then all these steps are done for you automatically. If you’re using xdg-app already, then this is all magically done for you as well, and automatically downloaded by GNOME Software.

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Richard has over 10 years of experience developing open source software. He is the maintainer of GNOME Software, PackageKit, GNOME Packagekit, GNOME Power Manager, GNOME Color Manager, colord, and UPower and also contributes to many other projects and opensource standards. Richard has three main areas of interest on the free desktop, color management, package management, and power management. Richard graduated a few years ago from the University of Surrey with a Masters in Electronics Engineering. He now works for Red Hat in the desktop group, and also manages a company selling open source calibration equipment. Richard's outside interests include taking photos and eating good food.

4 thoughts on “3rd Party Fedora Repositories and AppStream”

  1. A bit unrelated. For third-party xdg-app repos or bundles, will it be possible to discover, install and update them from gnome-software?

    One of the nice things with distro packaging is that we don’t need to browse the web to find and install an app, we can search in gnome-software, or with dnf, aptitude, synaptic etc. For third-party xdg-apps, the only way to discover them from gnome-software is to have a central list of URLs to repos/bundles. With e.g. a web site where developers/packagers can add a URL.

    Then once a third-party xdg-app is installed, can gnome-software update it? Also for a bundle?

    1. Well, without a central registry of AppImages it would be tricky to get the metadata automatically. Sooner or later you need to register your decentralised model into a centralised model to make it easy to install unknown things without searching google. I also don’t think AppImages give us AppStream metadata.

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