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> A new version of the library reduces CPU consumption by 10%, but requires changes, because the library's API (programming interface) has changed radically. The API changes are necessary to allow the speedup. Should LibreOffice upgrade to the new version of not? If 10% isn't enough of a speedup to warrant the effort to make the LO changes, is 90%?

That's a good example of a situation that flatpak can help with (if I understand correctly what it can do). If the version major changed, the old and new API can probably coexist in Arch, Debian or Fedora, but if there was a mistake in the versioning (maybe the manager of the API thinks they just fixed a bug, but the dependant relied on the buggy behavior), maybe two packages need to depend on different minors. Those cannot coexist in a traditional distro, but I believe in different flatpaks they can.

That's of course a blessing and a curse. It means you can kick the can down the road and maybe you'll get around to that upgrade, maybe you won't. We can see that result in the npm universe. If the distro forces you, you'll stay up to date.

I'm guardedly in favor of the flexibility, but we need to have tools that help us automate as much as possible of the keeping up to date, which becomes the responsibility of the specific software project, rather than a responsibility of the distro. It needs to be as easy as possible to do the right thing and not fall too far behind on updates, then more people will do it. Dependency management tools, CI services (you're working on that!), etc.
@clacke @liw that's a great situation for flatpak because flatpaks don't get upgraded :^)
If that's the case now, I think that can be improved with better tooling. Tooling is not everything, but people want to do the right thing, and if the process has too much overhead, too many manual steps, that's primarily what makes them not do it.

@clacke I don't see how Flatpak helps with that situation at all. The problem isn't that the user's system needs to have two versions of a library installed at the same time. The problem is that LibreOffice needs to be have source changes to work with the new library version. Until those are done, it's not possible to even build a new Flatpak version with the new library version.

Sure, that's the one thing that cannot be solved with anything other than manual effort. But Flatpak can help the LibreOffice team choose when to do that work, by decoupling their dependencies from the rest of the operating system.