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 (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

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.