Ubuntu – Chromium (Snap) on Ubuntu 20.04 – Some webapp shortcuts not working – workaround


Just installed Ubuntu 20.04 and tried to get my favorite webapps (i.e. Google Calendar, WhatsApp Web) working again. Since Firefox removed this feature years ago, I'm now using Chromium for this. On 18.04 I could just head to my favorite website, click the hamburger menu, 'More tools', 'Create shortcut…', tag 'Open as window' and bam, the WebApp was ready.

In 20.04 on my system with the Chromium Snap however, creating a WebApp sometimes results in Chromium crashing which leaves a .desktop file that does not work.
The .desktop file, which is created on the desktop, you then right-click and choose 'Allow Launching'. In most cases, this works and the webapp will get a proper icon and can be launched.

In other cases (i.e. when creating a shortcut from chrome://apps or when creating the shortcut resulted in Chromium crashing), the icon turns into a "faulty" sign:

some work, others don't

When I double-click WhatsApp, it's opened as a 'real' app (as can be seen in the screenshot). When i double-click Google Calendar however, a new empty full Chromium window is opened. And when I double-click Trello (of which the shortcut was created from chrome://apps), a new full Chromium Window is opened (instead of an 'app'-window) but it does lead to trello.com.

I've tried to find the culprit of what's going wrong by looking at the .desktop files of all three apps, but so far I'm unable to see what could be causing this behaviour.

Furthermore, when I was trying to find out why Chromium crashed when creating the shortcut to Google Calendar, I started Chromium from the commandline: $ /snap/chromium/1123/usr/lib/chromium-browser/chrome.

To my surprise, Chromium now did NOT crash when creating the shortcut. Also, the .desktop file was now placed immediately in ~/.local/share/applications/, which was not the case in my previous attempts.

So in the end, all seems to be well and looking back I'm suspecting some old leftover cruft / bitrot perhaps being the cause of all this – I did install 20.04 using my unmodified 18.04 /home partition after all…

Which leaves me with the question if I should actually post this – I guess I will in the hopes of giving anyone else who might be running into this some options to look at.

If indeed this is something other people run into, I'd be happy to provide more info so it can be debugged.

Best Answer

So from the big story above:

Try to launch Chromium from the console ($ /snap/chromium/1123/usr/lib/chromium-browser/chrome) and see if you can create working webapp shortcuts then. In my case, this fixed everything. If not, at least the console will hopefully give you a hint on what's going on.

Edit: apparently it's a big hit-and-miss game, as per this bug: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/chromium-browser/+bug/1732482

Please indicate on Launchpad that you're affected by this bug to increase the heat and hopefully have it fixed faster.

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