Isolating Chrome Apps with Firejail

Despite its terse man page, Chromium provides a large number of command-line options. One of these is app-id, which tells Chromium to directly launch a specific Chrome App. Combined with the isolation provided by Firejail, this makes using Chrome Apps a much more enjoyable experience.

For instance, I use the Signal Desktop app. When I received the beta invite, I created a new directory to act as the home directory for the sandbox that would run the app.

$ mkdir -p ~/.chromium-apps/signal

I then launched a sandboxed browser using that directory and installed the app.

$ firejail --private=~/.chromium-apps/signal /usr/bin/chromium

After the app was installed, I added an alias to my zsh configuration to launch the app directly.

alias signal="firejail --private=~/.chromium-apps/signal /usr/bin/chromium --app-id=bikioccmkafdpakkkcpdbppfkghcmihk"

To launch the application I can now simply run signal, just as if it was a normal desktop application. I don’t have to worry about it accessing private information, or even care that it is actually running on Chromium underneath. I use this method daily for a number of different Chrome Apps, all in different isolated directories in ~/.chromium-apps. As someone who is not a normal Chromium user, it makes the prospect of running a Chrome App much more attractive.

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