The pros and cons of Snaps on Linux

in Linux3 months ago

I am writing this as a user of Linux rather than as someone who actively contributes to it. I have used Linux as my main operating system on my own computers for a long time. I just found a file that says I installed Mandrake Linux back in 2000 and I may have used something else before then.

I settled on Ubuntu some time ago and have been pretty happy with it. I currently use Ubuntu Studio as it is optimised for audio work.

A feature developed by Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu) is Snap, which is a way to package applications in a way that makes it easy to install them on a wide range of systems. As I understand it there are often issues with having the right versions of the various libraries an application may need, so a Snap includes the appropriate ones. That makes like easier for whoever is packaging and deploying it.

A Snap package

A Snap package will be larger than one configured for a specific version of a distroibution as it has to include libraries that may be there anyway, but that is not such an issue in these days of high speed downloads and large drives.

I do use various Snap packages, but have found some issues with them. One is that the applications seem to be limited to accessing files in the current user's home folder and below. My system is set up with a separate 'data' drive and so I have sometimes had to move files around to access them. Perhaps there are ways around this I do not know about.

The other main issue I have had is that a Snap package can be slow to open. I found that the Brave browser was taking about half a minute to open. The issue with uploading files outside my home folder was also annoying. Eventually I decided I had had enough of this and so I installed Brave from their own repository. This involves some extra steps, but is just a matter of copying some commangs. After that you will get updates as they are released After doing this the browser opens in a couple of seconds and I can drag in files from anywhere. That makes life simpler. I have exactly the same version as I got from the Snap Store.

The Snap and native versions of Brave use different settings locations, but it was fairly simple to export things like bookmarks to re-import. I also needed to reconnect to my Brave wallet. This browser pays you for viewing curating ads whilst removing the advertising you see generally. I think you have access to all the extensions you would have in Chrome.

Savings

This is just from a week or so and I also saved the time waiting for it to open.

So Snaps can be good in that they make more applications available, but I would prefer a native package when I can get it.

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Nice breakdown...I love Ubuntu and am annoyed my work prefers me to be using Red Hat...Hopefully I can sway them to come back. I don't mind Snaps either, just a little getting used to after using "apt" for so long.
Regards Vince

I have not used Red Hat rpm stuff in a long time. I expect they have their own innovations. I install some stuff with the GUI and others with command line if I know the package name. Ubuntu has been pretty reliable for me over the years, but I do get the odd issue.

I always wondered what snaps were. Thanks for the explanation.

Always happy to inform. Linux has come a long way and is very usable now. Anything to make more apps available has to be good.

Very interesting. I usually do all of my installs and stuff like that from the command line and I just use apt or whatever it is called.

It is possible that apt may install Snaps too. The Ubuntu app store seems to be a mix of Snap and native apps. I can generally find something that does what I need, but I ought to check if it is a Snap when file locations matter. It could be I can work around that, but I have not found a general solution yet.

It is, for example, apt install chromium will install the snap version of the package.

It could be I can work around that, but I have not found a general solution yet.

If I understand it correctly, here is the solution.

Ah, okay.

Appimage is better than snap

In what ways?

Less hassle with installing programs for not very experienced users

Well I have not really encountered it. I can install snaps from the Ubnuntu app store, but I have had some issues as I said.