Flatpak and Blender after system updates – update the flatpak Nvidia packet to match your drivers

Some days ago I wanted to perform some Blender experiments on my laptop. Before I had upgraded most of the installed Leap 15.3 packages installed. Afterwards I thought this was a good opportunity to bring my flatpak based installation of Blender up to date, too.

A flatpack installation of Blender had been necessary since I had changed the laptop’s OS to Opensuse Leap 15.3. Reason: Opensuse did and does not offer any current version of Blender in its official repositories for Leap 15.3 (which in itself is a shame). (I have not yet checked whether the situation has changed with Leap 15.4.)

Blender’s present version available for flatpack is 3.3.1. I had Blender version 3.1 installed. So, I upgraded to version 3.3.1. However, this upgrade step for Blender alone did not work. (In contrast to a snap upgrade).

The problem

The sequence of commands I used to perform the update was:

flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo
flatpak update org.blender.Blender  
flatpak list

The second command brought Blender V3.3.1 to my disk. However, when I tried to start my new Blender with

flatpak run org.blender.Blender &

the system complained about a not working GLX and GL installation.

But, actually my KDE desktop was running on the laptop’s Nvidia card. The laptop has an Optimus configuration. I use Opensuse Prime to switch between the Intel i915 driver for the graphics card integrated in the processor and the Nvidia driver for the dedicated graphics card. And Nvidia was running definitively.

The cause of the failure and its solution

Flatpack requires the right interface for the Nvidia card AND the presently active GLX-environment to start OpenGL applications.

A “flatpack list” showed me that I had an “app” “nvidia-470-141-01” running.

Name                    Application ID                                   Version    Branch   Installation
Blender                 org.blender.Blender                              3.3.1      stable   system
Codecs                  org.blender.Blender.Codecs                                  stable   system
Freedesktop Platform    org.freedesktop.Platform                         21.08.16   21.08    system
Mesa                    org.freedesktop.Platform.GL.default              21.3.9     21.08    system
nvidia-470-141-01       org.freedesktop.Platform.GL.nvidia-470-141-01               1.4      system
Intel                   org.freedesktop.Platform.VAAPI.Intel                        21.08    system
ffmpeg-full             org.freedesktop.Platform.ffmpeg-full                        21.08    system
openh264                org.freedesktop.Platform.openh264                2.1.0      2.0      system

A quick view to the nvidia-settings and YaST showed me, however, that the drivers and other components installed on Leap 15.3 were of version “nvidia-470-141-03”.

Then I tried

mytux:~ # flatpak install flathub org.freedesktop.Platform.GL.nvidia-470-141
Looking for matches…
Similar refs found for ‘org.freedesktop.Platform.GL.nvidia-470-141’ in remote ‘flathub’ (system):

   1) runtime/org.freedesktop.Platform.GL.nvidia-470-94/x86_64/1.4
   2) runtime/org.freedesktop.Platform.GL.nvidia-470-141-03/x86_64/1.4
   3) runtime/org.freedesktop.Platform.GL.nvidia-470-141-10/x86_64/1.4
   4) runtime/org.freedesktop.Platform.GL.nvidia-470-74/x86_64/1.4
   5) runtime/org.freedesktop.Platform.GL.nvidia-430-14/x86_64/1.4
   6) runtime/org.freedesktop.Platform.GL.nvidia-390-141/x86_64/1.4

Which do you want to use (0 to abort)? [0-6]: 2

This command offered me a list to select the required subversion from. In my case option 2 was the appropriate one.

And indeed after the installation I could start my new Blender version again.

By the way: Flatpak allows for multiple versions to be installed at the same time. Like:

Name                 Application ID                                Version  Branch Installation
Blender              org.blender.Blender                           3.3.1    stable system
Codecs               org.blender.Blender.Codecs                             stable system
Freedesktop Platform org.freedesktop.Platform                      21.08.16 21.08  system
Mesa                 org.freedesktop.Platform.GL.default           21.3.9   21.08  system
nvidia-470-141-03    org.freedesktop.Platform.GL.nvidia-470-141-03          1.4    system
nvidia-470-141-10    org.freedesktop.Platform.GL.nvidia-470-141-10          1.4    system
Intel                org.freedesktop.Platform.VAAPI.Intel                   21.08  system
ffmpeg-full          org.freedesktop.Platform.ffmpeg-full                   21.08  system
openh264             org.freedesktop.Platform.openh264             2.1.0    2.0    system

Conclusion

Your flatpack installation must provide a version of the ‘org.freedesktop.Platform.GL.nvidia-xxx-nnn-mm’ packet which matches the present Nvidia driver installation on your Linux operative system.
Do not forget to upgrade flatpak packets for NVidia after having upgraded Nvidia drivers on your Linux OS!

Links

https://github.com/flathub/ org.blender.Blender/ issues/97
Replacing unstable Blender 2.82 on Leap 15.3 with flatpak or snap based Blender 3.1

Replacing unstable Blender 2.82 on Leap 15.3 with flatpak or snap based Blender 3.1

I wanted to work a bit more with my S-curve project in Blender. See e.g.

Blender – complexity inside spherical and concave cylindrical mirrors – IV – reflective images of a Blender variant of Mr Kapoor’s S-curve

At my present location I have to use my old but beloved laptop. As a new start in the project I just wanted to make a little movie showing dynamic changes in the reflections of some moving spheres in front of the S-curve’s metallic surface. As I had already created a few Blender movies some years ago I expected this to be an easy job. But I ran into severe trouble. A major reason was the fact that Opensuse does not provide a reasonably usable RPM of a current Blender versions for Leap 15.3.

I had upgraded the laptop to Leap 15.3 in December, 2022. The laptop has an Optimus system. Of course, I prefer the Nvidia card when creating scenes with Blender. I had had some minor problems with prime-select before. But after recent updates I did not get the Nvidia card running at all – neither with Bumblebee nor with Opensuse’s prime-select. I had to invest an hour to solve this problem. After a complete uninstall of Bumblebee and bbswitch and a de- and re-installation of the Nvidia drivers and suse-prime I got prime-select working in the end.

Just to find that Blender version 2.82 provided by the Leap 15.3 OSS repository was not really stable in a Leap 15.3 environment.

Blender 2.82 unstable on Opensuse Leap 15.3

I tried to create a movie with 100 frames (400×200) in Matroska format with H.264 encoding. Rendering of the complex S-curve reflections with a strongly reduced number of light ray samples still took considerable time with the Cycles renderer on 2 out of 4 real (and 8 hyperthreaded) CPU cores. It happened that the movie – after rendering an hour – was not baked correctly. In some runs Blender crashed after having rendered around 40 frames.

Therefore I changed my policy to rendering just a collection of PNG images. The risk of wasting something like 8 hours of CPU time for a real animation was just too big. But, a new disaster happened when I wanted to open a “video editing”- project in Blender to stitch the images together to create the final movie. Blender just crashed. Actually, Blender crashed on Leap 15.3 whenever I tried to open any project type other than “General”. Not funny … I had not experienced something like this on Leap 15.2.

Unfortunately, and in contrast to Tumbleweed there is no official and recent version of Blender available for Leap 15.3. So much about stability and reliability of Leap. What to do?

Canonical’s snap service or Flatpak to the rescue

I had read about SNAP of Canonical before – but never tried it. Canonical’s strange side steps during the evolution of Linux have always been disturbing for me. Regarding “snap” I also had a newspaper article in mind about a controversy with Linux Mint – with claims that snap has closed proprietary components and is transmitting telemetry data to Canonical. Working with root rights …

Therefore, a flatpack installation had to be considered, too…. Risks are small on my old laptop. I just tried – despite concerns and doubts regarding snap.

Blender 3.1 via “snap

I just followed the instructions for Opensuse on https://snapcraft.io/docs/installing-snap-on-opensuse to install “snap” on my Leap 15.3 system. As root:

zypper addrepo --refresh     https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/system:/snappy/openSUSE_Leap_15.3     snappy
zypper install snapd
systemctl enable --now snapd
systemctl enable --now snapd.apparmor
rcsnapd status
# install blender
snap install blender --channel=3.1/stable --classic

Another description can be found here:
https://www.linuxcapable.com/how-to-install-snap-snap-store-snapcraft-on-opensuse-leap-15/

The run-time environment of snap is handled by a daemon “snapd”. We find the majority of the installed files in four directories

/snap           -- 1.1 GB thereof 686 MB for Blender
/usr/lib/snap   -- 48 MB
/var/snap       -- almost nothing 
/var/lib/snapd  -- 360 MB 

In the first directory you also find the installed applications. In my case “Blender 3.1.2”.
The folder “/snap” contains around 1.1 GB. Blender is part of it and consumes 686 MB.

The startup of Blender via

/snap/bin/blender &

takes about 2 secs. Loading my S-curve test file took even longer. Otherwise snap’s Blender version 3.1.2 seemed to work perfectly. All the bugs I had seen with 2.82 were and are gone. And: I could not really notice a difference in performance when working with 3D objects in the Blender viewport. For a render test case I found 17.72 secs per frame on average. Memory release after leaving Blender seemed to be OK.

Blender 3.1 via Flatpak

Then I tried a Blender installation with flatpak. The installation is almost as simple as for snap. See https://www.flatpak.org/ setup/ openSUSE. Which sums up more or less to issuing the following commands :

zypper install flatpak
flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo
flatpak install flathub org.blender.Blender

The required packages of the Opensuse repository were

Regarding the installation I was surprised to find that flatpak requires much more space than snap. The majority of flatpack files is located in the following folder:

/var/lib/flatpak  -- 2.3 GB, thereof around 628 MByte for Blender

So, in comparison to snap, this makes a remarkable huge difference regarding the required files to provide a working runtime environment! I understand that for just one application many files have to be provided for a stable run-time environment on KDE – but in comparison to the snap installation it appears bloated.

We start flatpak’s Blender via

flatpak run org.blender.Blender &

The startup time was comparable to the snap installation – no difference felt. The test render time per frame was 18.95 secs. So that was 1.2 secs or 6.5 % slower than snap. Reason unclear. The difference after repeated trials was sometimes a bit smaller (4%), but sometimes also bigger (8.5%) -depending on the start order of the blender applications. But on average snap’s Blender was always a bit faster. I regard the difference is not really as problematic. But it is interesting. Memory release worked also perfectly with flatpak’s Blender installation.

Conclusion

Before you start struggling with the Blender 2.82 binary Opensuse provides, it is really worth trying a flatpak-based or a snap-based installation of Blender 3.1.2. On my system both worked perfectly.

Before you make a decision whether to go with flatpak or snap take into account the critical points which were discussed on the Internet regarding proprietary aspects of snap. Personally, I am going to use flatpak for Blender.
Otherwise, my opinion is that distributors like Opensuse should provide an important application as Blender in its present version as a binary and resolve dependencies as soon as possible. For me a flatpack installation is just a compromise. And it cost me a lot of valuable SSD space.

Links

https://www.linux-community.de/ausgaben/ linuxuser/2018/02/dreikampf/
https://hackaday.com/2020/06/24/whats-the-deal-with-snap-packages/
https://www.makeuseof.com/snap-vs-appimage-vs-flatpak/

Ceterum censeo: The worst living fascist and war criminal today who must be isolated, denazified and imprisoned is the Putler.