If you are familiar with GNOME Boxes internals you are aware that our secret sauce is libosinfo. It does the OS image detection and provides us with a database of devices, preferences, and compatibility for the operating systems we support.
In the world of traditional package management tools, osinfo-db is the package responsible for delivering updates about new operating system’s releases, fixes, and improvements that Boxes will consume. So whenever you wonder why the newest EndlessOS or the newest Debian release isn’t listed in the Boxes download section, it is likely that osinfo-db is outdated.
The pipeline from upstream -> distros -> to users is extremely valuable for apps and libraries. It is our “integration testing” phase. But for data-only packages like osinfo-db, we noticed that most users’ complains are regarding the package being outdated. We rarely see bugs introduced by osinfo-db updates. The very separation of the dataset (osinfo-db) and the library (libosinfo) is the reason for us to feel confident about contentiously delivering the dataset directly to our users.
For this reason, Flatpak users of GNOME Boxes will now benefit from the OsinfoDb Flatpak extension. It allows us to deliver osinfo-db updates direclty to users without updating the entire Boxes Flatpak. If you are receiving automatic updates in GNOME Software, the osinfo-db update is seamlessly.
Boxes still bundles its own osinfo-db data for those that don’t want to consume the extension. This will be updated whenever the Boxes Flatpak is updated, so expect it in a slower cadence.
Nothing is required from users to transition to this. Flatpak will pull the extension for you once you update Boxes.