Ubuntu moving to Snap Packages only?

I have been reading Ubuntu will drop .deb and move to all snap packages. I am not fan of Snap. Does anyone have an opinion on this? Will you stick with Ubuntu Mate if this happens? What do you see as the advantages, or disadvantages of Snap packages? I am trying to decide before the time comes. Thanks for any thoughts.

Do you have the link to the article?

I often heard this and it was only rumors each time.
For example last year I heard Ubuntu was planning to replace Apt with Snap in the 19.04 release and obviously it did not happened.

Hope, this will never happen ...
This would probably be the end of Ubuntu-based Linux Mint (and maybe others ?)
See the actual discussion https://blog.linuxmint.com/?p=3766

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Please do link the article @jymm. I thought I saw some discussion the other day talking if releases were to be upgradable as a snap, but I can't seem to find it! :confused:


I am aware that the Chromium package (currently deb) will be transitioned to snap in a future update:

I don't agree with this at all. It's a good example of being pushed into Canonical's technology... which many Ubuntu users may not mind but there are many (including myself) who are genuinely not a fan of snaps. Canonical have full control server side and it's "single store" approach.

I have a gut feeling that inevitably, more things will become snap only and the land of Ubuntu continue to push snaps.

A developer from the Canonical desktop team says this about the Chromium package:

So it's pretty clear to me Canonical will want to continue investing in snaps. It makes sense for Canonical as they are a corporation and need control and income to survive. :moneybag: Effectively snaps put a little bit of Ubuntu into all the other distros (Fedora, openSUSE, etc). Generally, I don't really trust Canonical any more. Maybe it's time another distro (and derivatives) take up that #1 spot on the desktop.


What do you see as the advantages, or disadvantages of Snap packages?

If you really want to know my thoughts...

I do think the packaging system that different distros use (e.g. Apt, RPM, pacman, AUR) make it ideal (and transparent) for distributing open source software. I agree with this comment about shared libraries and less clutter.

To me, it would be more trustworthy to have people checking/testing code to be sure the software says what it's doing and will work for their distribution, instead of confining apps behind permissions. :lock: It's great for developers, as they can push updates whenever they like... All it takes is their account to be broken into and a malicious new version pushed out... all through automated systems. Or, maybe a half-baked update... or a store full of rubbish apps. It's only classic (unconfined) snaps that need approval.

Snaps seem a better fit for proprietary and paid software, almost like it wants to follow the path of Google Play, App Store and Microsoft Store.... which are all backed by big companies. :moneybag: I see more disadvantages: processing overheads, more storage space, cluttered mount points. Plus, an experience where apps take longer to start (just for the first launch?), potentially broken themes, forced updates (but they can be deferred temporarily). Apps might even get "permission denied" when trying to access files on the system, like network drives.

But, shared libraries? Snaps can be seen as a step backwards. In theory, let's suppose there was a security bug in a package a program depends on, but the program itself hasn't seen updates in 2 years. If the package containing the library is patched, the application benefits. But with snaps, It's up to the developer to re-release with the new library... maybe they did 6 months later, and the bug was exploited, as the snap never benefited from the updated library.

I understand Canonical can't fix things without bug reports. Ultimately, I'm not invested in this technology. I see it as over-engineered with an unclear vision... let alone more fragmentation. Flatpaks at least are decentralised, distro agnostic and solves some of the "duplication" problems... still not a technology I'm interested in right now.

Snaps do help with the dependency problem of older releases wanting new apps, but I suppose rolling releases have this advantage too?

Just my personal thoughts.


Will you stick with Ubuntu Mate if this happens?

:ship: I already jumped ship to Manjaro KDE after having a good run with 16.04, the last GTK2 experience with MATE. I can finally make use of my HiDPI display, and stay well away from Canonical before they impose snaps and ruin 32-bit support.

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Thanks for the replies. No, I just do a lot of reading about Linux and have seen it serveral places. Softpedia and Linux Today are two of my favorite, but also OMG Ubuntu and Ubuntu Downloads. I guess I feel like most of you, I like .deb packages, not snaps which seem to take over the whole hard drive to me. I love Mate and LTS so Ubuntu Mate LTS has worked well for me. I also like all the software available and PPA's for even more software. I will go back to Debian or LMDE if this happens. I dual boot and already run Buster as Parrot Security OS and Siduction OS (both Mate), for security on Parrot and also Siduction to learn about rolling releases, but Ubuntu Mate is my main distro.

I started with Debian OS's and prefer to stay with them. I had tried Manjaro and Fedora but they both really lacked the soft ware I needed and I am not about to learn to compile my own. So I am hoping Ubuntu keeps .deb or I will find an alternative.

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Hello @lah7

Agree, agree, agree. :penguin:
Question, what do you get if you combine the Gnome-3 desktop, snap-packaged software and a single point-of-control (distribution) for that software?

Answer - unknown at this time...

Then of course there is the whole M exponent E3 thing - what seems to be happening at the Linux Foundation is interesting. :thinking:

The massive down-scaling of the Canonical desktop team, the abandonment of 32bit technologies - belay that last thought... , I am concerned that Canonical is seriously loosing interest in the desktop (no revenue). :worried:

I'm really not a fan of Canonical's decisions of late... at this rate I'll probably move to Linux Mint once UM 18.04 has run its course.
If (more likely "when", to be honest) Mint has to switch to Debian proper as base, I just hope they manage to get much more recent drivers in there compared to Debian stable (which the current LMDE is based on), as it's always lagging years behind in terms of support for GPUs, scanners and the like.
If not... then my "plan C" will likely be OpenSuSE, as I ran that for many years (SuSE 4.4 was my first distro ever).

I think the absolutely worse part of everything stated, is that it makes the Linux desktop more of an obstacle for new users than it has to be. If this turns out to be true (and Ubuntu no longer uses the Debian package format, or apt) then they're literally taking fifteen years of work and throwing it down onto the ground. Shattered. Broken. Everything we've been doing to make the Ubuntu desktop a fun and stable experience destroyed beyond recognition.

Nothing on this forum would matter anymore. Nothing on other forums for official Ubuntu flavours would matter anymore. Nothing from Pop!_Planet for Pop!_OS would matter anymore. Nothing on the Linux Mint forums would matter anymore. NoobsLab, Webupd8 and omg! ubuntu! will have piles and piles of dead articles, among the growing list of dead articles already on their servers. Distributions in their current form will no longer be a thing. Everything everyone has done for Ubuntu will have lost all meaning and all past information will have to be ignored, with terabytes of information laid to waste and left for dead.

I'll probably abandon Ubuntu completely if this happens to become the case. Maybe go the way lah7 is heading and just use Manjaro with MATE since I heard it's easier to get certain software in Arch.

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Ubuntu is not moving to all snaps.

However each desktop flavour team can elect to ship some applications as snaps. In the case of Ubuntu MATE we've been shipping Ubuntu MATE Welcome and Software Boutique as a snap for 18 months, since the snap distribution model suits those apps well.

Chromium is a very fast moving application. It is maintained by the Ubuntu Desktop team and it is being transitioned to only being published as a snap. This is to free up more time on the desktop team for development related activities rather than packaging. If there is interest in the community to take maintainership of the Chromium deb then they would be able to do so.

And that is true of anything in Ubuntu, you are free to get involved with the project and invest your time in areas that interest you most. If you just sit on the sidelines, watching, then you really have to accept the direction active contributors are taking the project.

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Thanks @Wimpy for clearing that up. With web browsers which need constant updates I understand the rationale. As long as snaps are employed on a case-by-case basis where it makes sense that's perfectly fine. :slight_smile:

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Maintenance of Chromium
Why is it easier with Snap than with deb (?)
Can anybody explain ...

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You can have one Snap that can be installed on multiple different distro versions, you don't need to build for 18.04, 19.04, 19.10, etc.

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What about users who don't use snap? When I installed Ubuntu MATE I removed the snapd package because I don't need it. And I'm sure a lot of people do the same, especially after some events like the 2048 game malware. Does it means I'll have to install snap just to have a web browser that was available as a deb package before? I really hope they don't do the same with Firefox.

This seems like a strategy to push snap to users in my opinion, like installing programs like gnome-calculator and gnome-system-monitor as snaps on Ubuntu, which could have been installed as normal deb packages in the first place, like Ubuntu MATE does. This only makes the newcomer feel confused and the experienced user to switch to another distribution.

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I think gnome-calculator and gnome-system-monitor snaps were mostly done as proof-of-concept. Maybe they should be transitioned back to pure deb, for those the benefits of snap simply aren't there.

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I don't know if they were done for that reason, but they're a clear example why a lot of FUD is spread about Canonical and snap. If you see programs like those as pre-installed snaps, it's no surprise why there are rumors that Canonical is dropping deb packages.

There's something I don't understand. If Ubuntu takes its packages from the unstable branch of Debian and uses the same package format as Debian, why does the team need to free packaging time up? Debian still provides it as a deb package.

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The perspective of snaps, in my mind is they're very nice for outdated software, and the idea of universal packages is very nice. The issue I take to Snaps is if you have a bunch of programs which use the same libraries, you may end up with multiple versions of that same file.

I am not sure how snapd works, but it would be very nice if a snap installation would prefer shared libraries which may already exist, if the best possible version of that shared library the program uses s already on the target system. My big issue with snaps is bloat; I don't want ot see an installation fo Ubuntu balloon an extra four gigabytes because of libraries. That's not much to some people, but that's everything to some people.

I use to fit UBuntu on a 4GB USB stick, and was awe-inspired to see just how much space I had. RIP that dream of being able to buy a cheap 4GB USB stick and throwing a good desktop on it. With 4GB SD cards out of fashion 16GB media of any medium is the lowest possible size you can buy in most stores so that's nice for end-users who visit department stores but I am sure there are pallets of lower-capacity media which could be purposed just sitting in some warehouse.

I agree 100%. I don't like snap either and if apt is replaced by snap I will go back to pure Debian.

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I also removed the snapd packages. I don't need them, too.

My Ubuntu-Mate runs without problems.

Why always something new when the current one is running fine.

'.deb' is totally enough for me.

I hope we can still use '.deb' packages if 'snapd' would come and replace '.deb'.

@ RSI, me,too...

So this is what happens when I stop paying attention to what my OS and the people behind it are doing for a while...

Frankly, this thread is the first time I've ever heard of snap packages, which is pretty interesting, given that I've been back to using Ubuntu for more than a year now.

So please forgive me a stupid newbie question: what, exactly, is the current standard way of finding and installing snap packages under Ubuntu Mate?

This "you might end up with two versions of the same software-related file on your system" thing sounds pretty stupid.

Haven't been here in quite some time, but one of the "Ubuntu MATE Community summary" emails finally caught my attention with this topic. I agree with your statement @Wimpy, that's really the only two choices that any of us have. For those of us who lack the time, or desire to get involved, which is the majority of us unfortunately, we do mostly enjoy the direction active contributors are taking the project, or we wouldn't be using the end product.

I understand the philosophy behind Snaps, and I can see it's benefits in many situations, as you well pointed out one.

However, I find the idea of a software developer pushing updates to my system without my consent a violation of basic security protocols. Yes, most applications are maintained and packaged by the same developers, whether it be a deb or snap package. Yes, the snap version is probably more current in fast moving applications like Chromium. And if I don't trust snap packages from the Ubuntu team, then why am I using Ubuntu at all right?

But what I don't understand, is why the end user is not given the choice to give consent before the snap packages are updated. Would it be so difficult to have a application like Software Updater notify the end user that their snap packages are out of date and need to be updated, and then give the end user the choice to allow or disallow the update? The end result would be the same whether we are speaking of snap or deb packages, the user would either allow the updates, and have a well maintained system, or reject the updates and suffer the consequences.

I've read the rhetoric from the camp that believes the typical end user is not computer literate enough to properly maintain their systems, and how pushing updates to their system through snap packages can properly maintain the system for them. Perhap there is some validity to that argument, especially for security updates, but I still feel that the end user should have the choice, whether or not they know what the right choice is.

I suppose you have probably been thinking "Why don't you get involved and do something about it" the whole time that you have read this reply. Unfortunately, I to am one who does not have the time to be involved in any more projects, life is full.

So as one who works for Ubuntu, please allow me to bounce my concerns off you, in hope that you might consider them as you help shape the future of Ubuntu.

Thank you for reading Martin, and thank you for making Ubuntu!