In the thread linked to the Phoronix article, I saw a link to http://appimage.org/, which is quite interesting. I, just now, downloaded a 50MiB file -- the "AppImage" of Subsurface -- and, after running chmod +x <file> (I later confirmed that my file manager, Thunar, was capable of doing this, too), double-clicked to run it (and, the first time, it asked me whether I wanted to make a .desktop shortcut -- it is now accessible via the XFCE menu under Accessories). Nice. I have not thought too deeply about it, but it seems like a good system. Not quite as seamless-seeming as a PND, but probably more politically palatable as a consequence.