Apps chrome

How to Easily Run Websites as Apps in Linux

Image: Jack Wallen

Most of what we do happens from a web browser. However, that doesn’t mean we want every page we use to run like another tab. If you’re like me, these tabs can add up. And if you’re not using a browser with solid tab management functionality (like Opera’s workspaces – which is the best tab manager, hands down), those tabs can become overwhelming very quickly.

For this purpose, I prefer to open some websites as web applications. What does that mean? Simply put, the site will run in its own window (minus all web browser add-ons, such as tabs, menus, etc.) and can be launched directly from your desktop menu.

This might sound familiar to anyone who’s used the Chrome browser, because you can create a shortcut to a site and open it as its own window (Menu > More Tools > Create Shortcut). Other browsers, such as Firefox, do not include such functionality.

Also: The 5 Best Browsers for Privacy

For this reason, you must turn to third-party software that can create a web application from any site with any browser. In Linux, this application is called Webapp Manager. This app is one of many installed on Linux Mint, but can also be added to any Ubuntu-based distribution.

Let’s install Webapp Manager and see how easy it is to create a web application from a site.

How to Easily Run Websites as Apps in Linux

Terms

The only thing you will need for this is a running instance of an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution and a user with sudo privileges. That’s all, let’s do desktop magic.

Installing the Web Application Manager

Open your web browser and point it to the Webapp Manager download page and download the DEB version of the latest version (as of today i.e. 1.2.5).

Open a terminal window and install Webapp Manager with the command:

sudo dpkg ~/Downloads/webapp_manager*.deb

Create your first web application

Once the app is installed, you can find it listed as Web apps in your desktop menu. Open it to reveal the very minimal app.

The Web Application Manager window.

The Webapp Manager user interface is very basic and simple.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen

https://www.trello.com for the Address, and Web as the category, then select the browser you want, and click OK. The favicon for the site you use should automatically determine the icon.

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Click + (the plus sign) and then, in the resulting window, fill out the necessary details for the app. You'll want to give the app a name, which will show in your desktop menu; add the URL for the website; select the browser you want to use from those you've installed on your system; and click OK.

For example, say you want to create an app for Trello. For that you would type Trello for the name, https://www.trello.com for the Address, and Web as the category, then select the browser you want, and click OK. The favicon for the site you use should automatically determine the icon.

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Click + (the plus sign) and then, in the resulting window, fill in the necessary details for the application. You’ll want to give the app a name, which will show up in your desktop menu. add website URL; select the browser you want to use from those you have installed on your system; and click OK.

For example, suppose you want to create an app for Trello. To do this, you need to enter Trello for the name, https://www.trello.com for the address, and Web for the category, then select the desired browser and click OK. The favicon of the site you are using should automatically determine the icon.

The Webapp Manager web application creation window.

Creation of a web application for Trello.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen

Open your desktop menu and search for the name of the app you just created. For example, if you named the app Trello, it'll be listed as such. When you open the app, you'll find it looks just like a locally installed app (only it's really just a website running in a stripped-down browser window).

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Open your desktop menu and find the name of the app you just created. For example, if you named the app Trello, it will be listed as such. When you open the app, you’ll find that it looks like a locally installed app (only, it’s actually a website running in a simplified browser window).

Trello running as a web app on Linux.

The Trello website seen through a Webapp Manager web app.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen

And that’s all there is to running websites as apps on Linux. If you want to separate certain sites from the standard web browser window, this is a great way to do it.

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Jack Wallen: Here’s how…