No nice Matrix client packaged on Fedora

Recently I’ve been struggling to properly use a Matrix client on Fedora.

By “properly” I mean that:

  • It works on Fedora Silverblue.
  • I lets me share my screen on video-calls.
  • It is a desktop client (no matter if wrapped inside Electron or similar).

It turns out that there is no way to cover those requirements on current Fedora.

If you search for voip-enabled clients in the matrix clients matrix, you’ll see there are not a lot of options:

The only stable client ATM is https://app.element.io/ (or any other web installation of Element). FWIW, Element upstream only supports officially packaging .deb for Ubuntu, and all Flatpaks/AppImages I’ve found only unzip that .deb and move stuff into a flatpak structure. None of them builds from sources. That bad practice by itself can probably be a source of these random crashes.

Although none of these are exactly a Fedora problem, the reality is that this makes the chatting/calling experience awful. None of the clients are supported by Fedora, and those that you can get to use always end up crashing. Since Fedora uses Matrix as an official communications channel, one would expect to be able to use it pleasantly out of the box in a Fedora Workstation.

Possible solutions:

  • Somebody from Fedora, with the required knowledge, could step in and fix those upstream issues.
  • Or Fedora could package Element in rpm/flatpak.
  • … and make sure it doesn’t crash.

Electron-based software can’t be packaged, because they can’t be built fully from sources without network access.

Flathub also doesn’t build them from sources. They just repackage prebuilt DEBs:

nheko - Only as RPM (not nice for Silverblue)

I’m nheko maintainer. Building Flatpaks on Fedora today is a serious problem because it’s done by repackaging RPMs via modules.

I hope Fedora will support native Flatpak build manifests in the future.

You can layer nheko on Silverblue:

rpm-ostree install nheko
4 Likes

I also started looking into this a few weeks ago when element’s desktop app started continuously crashing on me and I found the same problems you listed above. The issues with getting an electron app packaged and upstream’s attitude toward the flathub release made me start looking for an alternative.

The closest I came to finding a replacement is FluffyChat but it, too has issues. The latest release of FluffyChat on flathub does support SSO but it’s been fixed in source and I’ve been using a local dev build for a few days. However, there is an issue with their build setup right now and getting the flathub release isn’t as simple as updating a script.

I’m not sure why nheko never showed up in my earlier searches but I’m going to look at it as well but once fluffychat’s upstream issue is resolved, you should at least have another option.

I use fluffychat on phone, but really for desktop it has a very subpar experience compared with a buggy Element. It seems to target too much for mobile devices. No shortcuts, no threads, flaky search, no (or buggy) videocalls (main problem for me)…

I’ll try that, thanks.

No text selection was the biggest problem for me. Also no right-click anywhere. Desktop doesn’t seem like a real target platform for FluffyChat, more like “we use Flutter and Flutter can build on desktop, so might as well”.

I also settled on Nheko rpm. It’s ok, until you run into some unknown crashes. Had to wipe my profile once.

The other options in Fedora repos appear to be Quaternion (no E2EE?) and Neochat (which looks nice, but I ran into multiple different crashes while trying it).

I think the real problem is there are too many clients, most of them aren’t great, and it’s not reasonable for any user to evaluate all of them properly. Packaging more of them in Fedora won’t help.

Btw, the client matrix (404 link) seems to be gone. Now we only have this oversized card view.

I think the new card view helps a lot. There are “Featured clients”, which are the ones more “serious” for daily usage.

This issue could be summarized in: we need Element in Fedora. Or at least we need the flathub Element to actually work.

Nheko looks very nice. Thankyou for the work there.

Do you know a good tutorial to set up a Matrix homeserver on Fedora 38?

Since the bridge between IRC and Matrix is no longer working, I had to find a solution for my desktop. On my phone I had been using SchildiChat for some time and I’m more or less happy with it.

I know there’s a desktop client as well. But that is not available in Fedora repositories and I am less inclined installing it from Flatpak. However SchildiChat also provides a web app and through my preferred browser Brave I was able to install is as an app. I’m not entirely sure what that entails precisely. But I have a shortcut in my start menu now.

Having used it for a couple of days now, I’m quite satisfied. The interface is clean and responsive. Setting it up was a breeze. Keys for encrypted chats were restored from an earlier backup made on mobile. So, I instantly had access to all private chats. Rooms I’m subscribed to are all present and I was able to configure the interface to my liking. Notifications also work very well and are configurable globally and per room / chat.

Of course, personal preferences differ from user to user. But maybe this will help others in deciding on a desktop solution.

I know this is an old thread, but here is a link to install packages for element matrix client:

https://software.opensuse.org/download/package?package=element-desktop&project=home%3Ajejb1%3AElement