SNAP or not SNAP :-) app installation

May be not the right place here to ask but I’ll take a chance

For the Linux Pro, I always used the .deb package to install my Ubuntu apps

If a SNAP version is available, should I always go with it (considering I am not a Linux Guru)


As a former Windows user, there is just something more satisfying about a good old .deb. I would use a Snap over a Flatpak any day of the week though.

If the app you’re looking for is available in the official repositories of your distro, always prefer this method.

If you absolutely need a newer version of such app, check if it’s available into a ppa you can trust ( active, frequently updated, maintained one, for example LibreOffice… )

If your app of choice is only available as Snap, FlatPak or AppImage, then use those new kinds of packages.

Have a look on their documentation : confinement/sandboxing might be a pain in the neck sometimes, those packaging need more space, may lack translations/localizations, don’t install where we are used to, sometimes look out of place in some environment theme…

…but things get better step by step, so don’t be afraid to try. Just be aware of eventual disappointments.

I prefer snap, but I am a little biased as I work with the snapcrafter org. :slight_smile:

I think you are dealing with a mindset here.

I run Budgie on Debian Unstable/Sid, so I know how a dependency can break one or many applications, speaking of the .deb installation here, giving Sid’s rough waters.

For example, currently in Sid, I run an password saving app called Enpass. It relies on OpenSSL, which unfortunately is broken at the moment, causing Enpass not to work. The OpenSSL package has also stopped many other applications from working, OpenVPN, etc. I am waiting (it has been weeks) for the maintainer to fix OpenSSL.

With Snap or Flatpak, all the dependencies are contained in a bubble wrap which protects you from these dependency changes, upgrades, breaks, etc.

I believe Snap and Flatpak need time to simmer for people to feel comfortable with using them as default, but I believe they have advantages over distro packages as the example above illustrates.

The other consideration - security. Debs/PPAs just had “root” over to the install process. So you need to trust the PPA. Sure a snap can be leveraged to do malicious things too (look at the bitcoin miner), but what can be done to the system is limited in scope dramatically due to the confinement model. You do still need to trust the developer with a snap as well admittedly.

The fact that snaps allow the actual developer to add their application to the “repo” (or store in this case). Has a provided build service. The approachability to packaging an app (as a snap) is LIGHT YEARS ahead of a Deb (having worked on both). The dependency mgmt, multiple versions, transactional updates, auto updates, scheduling of said auto updates, using a primary YAML file to define the package - all HUGE wins for me.

Sure, there are some pain points currently (under heavy dev), but hey it will get there as most new(er) projects do.

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@bashfulrobot and @Kan Please don’t get me wrong : I never said snap was not an interesting thing !

As a « lambda » end-user those new packaging formats still require some extra attention that it’s good to be aware of, as « software stores » don’t particularly warn or inform about how set and configure snap.

Just look at forums : many questions about « how do I access such folder/disk from snap-gimp or snap-firefox » or « my put_an_app_here is no longer in put_a_language_here » or « why my app looks ugly » ? And why so ? because most of the time people were not made aware they were installing snap using their distro app-store ( ubuntu here for example ).

Here is my « critic ». Against software stores not against snap ( or flatpak or appimage ). Software Stores might be more « teacher and adviser » and not only provide without a bit of help about settings.

Oh, for sure - these are the “nuances” I was referencing in my previous statement. :slight_smile: The tech is under heavy dev right now. I’m not advocating one way or the other. I just simply was providing a view from the other side of the fence. It is good for anyone coming in to make an educated decision.

The docs are also under heavy dev, and you can also see the discussions going on all over the forum regarding the improvements and feedback.

The biggest issues I find is that the info becomes buried pretty fast due to the volume of activity.,

Well, let’s say the problem is not about snap here : for a moment now it seems that Ubuntu Software shows only snap and no longer « legacy » packages. Ok for pushing the novelty but there is no warning nor invitation about correctly setting snap… which somehow leads to disappointment.

That « bug » is open to discussion

Yeah, I don’t disagree with you, however, I suspect that most people who would “care” about which version is installed likely do so through the terminal. But there should be a warning. I seem to remember there being an announcement that snaps were the preferred method in the Ubuntu ecosystem… I’ll see if I can dig it up.

Maybe another place for discussion : ?

That’s pretty much my view. Until Snaps are faster to load, adopt the DE’s themes (big for me), and straighten out permissions I’m just not a fan. In fact, if Snaps start to become the defacto installation method of choice in the Ubuntu ecosystem before those issues are addressed, that could push me to Arch.

I guess I never noticed as my workflows just have me installing via terminal (easy to choose based on preferences), plus I use cfg management and install via scripts anyways. I know the theming stuff has open PR’s, and have seen many discussions around speed issues. I myself have never had speed issues other than the initial launch on certain snaps. Most times I do not even notice I am using snaps unless there is a major theme issue.

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