back to article Snapping at Canonical's Snap: Linux Mint team says no to Ubuntu store 'backdoor'

The developers of Linux Mint have expressed concern with Canonical's Snap Store and the way it is forced on Ubuntu users who try to install popular packages like the Chromium web browser. Linux Mint has editions based on either Ubuntu or Debian, so Canonical's decisions have a direct impact on the open-source operating system …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good. Hate snap. It's insidious and a pain to deal with.

    Besides running contrary to the principles that lead a lot of people to Linux systems (a closed store that you can't alter...automatic updates you have no control by just the one company) it's an absolute resource hog.

    To quote a post I made a while back:

    "I managed to remove it myself this morning...apparently it used to get it's hooks in so deep it was very difficult to remove the daemon as it interconnected with ubuntu-desktop for....reasons. But that changed a few months ago. The strangest "quirk" I had was that I couldn't get the web browser to save a file directly to an attached, encrypted drive. Permissions problem. So I had to save to an interim folder then move it across by hand. Utter pain. Plus, have you seen how many loopback mounting points it creates? "df" becomes very hard to use as it buries your actual drives with it's own. One for the daemon, one for GTK, one for Gnome, one for each of the snaps you have installed...."

    If we're not careful, it could become the new 'systemd' problem

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Preach it, brother.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Amen

        Or sister?

        or friend,

        or small furry creature from Alpha Centauri…

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @AC - Re: Amen

          Nothing in the expression gives me the slightest hint that this is addressed exclusively to (white) male audience but maybe this is because of my education.

          However if this is upsetting you (and you have this right), I would suggest the word comrade. It's as colorless and gender neutral as you can ever get.

          So, how's "Amen, comrade!" for you ?

          1. Anonymous Coward

            Re: @AC - Amen

            Gosh is it that time already?

            Look out chaps, the Yanks have woken up. They are all dressed up as Guy Fawkes and have not taken their dried frog pills.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @AC - Amen

            Comrade? Makes you sound like some sort of commie!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @AC - Amen

              It comes from Latin and has a lot of history. For your information, tovarisch has a meaning more like partner which is closer to communism. That's why I mentioned education, all the down-voters seem to have missed the point.

              1. eionmac

                Re: @AC - Amen

                Tovarisch is best. My Latin teacher used it to describe his learned pupils. I got in trouble using it in Russia.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: @AC - Amen

                  "My Latin teacher used it to describe his learned pupils.

                  Our English/Latin teacher called the express group "The Scum - because it always rises to the top". He was anti-American to the extent that he was nicknamed "Boris". At a school reunion it could be noted that very old boys still consciously said "round" - rather than the clout inducing "around".

            2. lotus123

              Re: @AC - Amen

              Did you check under your bed this morning? I am sure couple of those are hiding there.

          3. Avatar of They

            Re: @AC - Amen

            I took it as a joke myself, in the theme of Monty Pythons life of brian character who adds 'Sister' at the end of statements that mention brother.

            ...and not the heavy politically correct slant you seem to have taken aversion to. Just a thought.

    2. Youngone Silver badge


      I enjoyed Ubuntu 18.04 as my desktop OS, and installed 20.04 when it became available, without even really thinking much about it, as Ubuntu has been such a good desktop OS for so long now.

      However, so many of the tools I use regularly can only be installed as snaps, and the snap experience is such an awful one that I changed to Pop!_OS which is an Ubuntu offshoot, managed by System 76, the PC makers.

      It is pretty much what Ubuntu 20.04 could have been, but isn't.

      1. jason_derp

        Re: Pop!_OS

        I did the same thing. Another big advantage with Pop! is that it comes ready to deal with modern graphics cards. I coulg get my card working on Ubuntu sometimes, but it had to be done just so, and the phase of the moon needed to be right, or else you had to start the whole process over again. Canonical is free to do whatever they want I guess, but their recent shifts in priorities are a little weird to me.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Pop!_OS

          Only a little?????

      2. Mike_R

        Re: Pop!_OS

        Updated UB 18.04 to 20.04 and was presented with a snap installation of Chromium, with snaps disk usage seriously borking my backups.

        There's a lot of advice online showing how to get rid of snap. (e.g.: worked for me) so the only result (so far, a few months later) is that Chromium has lost a user, and having upgraded Ubuntu since the original Warty, if snap becomes obligatory I'll have to take a look at Mint, or Devuan.

    3. The Central Scrutinizer

      Jesus the bloody mount points. I couldn't believe that when I realised what was going on. I got the wire brush and dettol out and scraped it off my drive. Never, ever again.

    4. Shaheed

      Snap Chromium is broken by design

      1. It won't work if $HOME is not under /home. Really. Not even if you softlink. You need a bind mount. Whatever that is.

      2. Then it won't work if you use a remote display because it does not look for the X11 XAuthority file under $HOME. Even though you gave it a bind mount.

      3. Then you cannot use it to test your software using Selenium because it ignores your download settings in favour of saving to a readonly location of its own choosing.

      4. Then you find you cannot revert because all the .Deb files on the Ubuntu archives back to version 79 have been upgraded to use the snap too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Snap Chromium is broken by design

        A bind mount is basically where you mount a given directory on top of an existing one. Suppose you have a RAID array where you have a partition mounted at /home2, containing some larger user accounts. If you wanted to remount /home2/user to /home/user (to sidestep issue #1), without the issues that come along with symlinks (it is not a directory, just a token that points to it), you'd do something like

        mount --bind /home2/bob /home/bob

        and the directory will then be traversable from both locations. The target folder must exist, same as any mount point.

        The end result is somewhat similar to a symlink, but instead of creating a special filesystem object, it utilizes the operating system's filesystem mounting machinery to do it, which makes it more transparent to running software. Tools like 'du' and 'find' will still be aware that they are cross filesystem boundaries, and will also behave as such if the bind mount is entirely within a given filesystem.

        Finally, as they're transient by nature (unlike symlinks), they need to be placed in fstab or some startup script to make them persistent.

    5. NATTtrash

      If we're not careful, it could become the new 'systemd' problem

      It probably already is. I don't want to sound too Stallman, but this is the inevitable "company" influence you'll always have. Companies do have their objectives which they will pursue determinedly, since they are not philanthropic (no judgment, just observation). Systemd and Red Hat. Nvidia and their drivers. Google and Android. Apple and iOS. Manufacturers with MS only support. And Canonical also has a history there: the Amazon links, Unity, Mir, and now snap.

      Advantage of *nix though: don't like it, you "migrate". Disadvantage: yes, you might have to "engage", it might require some work. And that's why it's great that Clem is firing off this signal. Not only is Mint a very popular distro out there (some whisper more so than all *buntu flavours) which might grab Canonicals attention more than Joe and Mabel having disagreeing fits and rants. Furthermore, Mint is also one of the "easier for users" flavours, which are now given choice in stead of a force feed diet.

      1. Bronek Kozicki

        It probably already is.

        Not yet. I quite like 20.04 server edition, but right after installation I run a small script which starts like so:

        apt-get purge -y fwupd packagekit dconf-service dconf-gsettings-backend bolt unattended-upgrades open-iscsi multipath-tools sg3-utils tpm-udev glib-networking glib-networking-common glib-networking-services snapd landscape-common

        apt-get install -y zsh bc kpartx zip unzip wget curl tmux htop vim

        apt-get autoremove --purge -y

        The machines work just fine without snapd. It's a good luck that I have no desire to use LXD because then I would have to install it with snap.

        1. chroot

          zip and unzip

          May I suggest zstd?

      2. nematoad Silver badge

        "Not only is Mint a very popular distro ..."

        Yes, I have been wondering about that having just read the Lenovo has said that it will support "Linux" on all its Thinkpads etc. Red Hat makes sense as it is the only distro most suits know about, but why support Ubuntu when many people hold that Linux Mint is superior?

        Could it be that this is a case of not what you know but who you know?

        1. Bo Lox

          I like Mint, but it's logical that Lenovo will support Ubuntu instead, given that Mint is based on Ubuntu (at least for now), and that there's a formal organisation that is well resourced called Canonical which they can work with and sign agremeents with.

        2. MacroRodent

          Lenovo supports

          If Lenovo makes sure both Red Hat and Ubuntu run on their systems, then installing other distributions is likely to be painless. Recall it is about hardware support, and the part that talks to the hardware - the kernel - is shared infrastructure in all distributions. Even if Lenovo were to release some support only in blobs and closed kernel modules, instead of donating it to kernel, they really cannot make those usable only on Red hat and Ubuntu. And why should they even try?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @MacroRodent - Re: Lenovo supports

            Microsoft whispering something into Lenovo's ear perhaps ?

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @nematoad - Nah, it's just that

          big companies feel more confident if the Linux distribution is being backed/supported by a known commercial entity.

          I find it a little weird that Lenovo intends to support a server distribution on their laptops but I guess this is to avoid upsetting Microsoft (nice PCs you have here, it would be a pity if the cost of a Windows license...)

          Don't get me wrong, it makes me happy to know that I will be able to run Linux Mint on those machines but I don't see masses of users ditching Windows on their laptops to install RHEL or Ubuntu. So, in my opinion it's still not TYOLOD.

        4. jason_derp

          "...Lenovo has said that it will support "Linux" on all its Thinkpads...

          I don't want to sound dumb, but how do they do that exactly? Can't you just plug in a USB stick and like, install Linux on anything? I've been doing that to all my laptops for quite some time now. Have I just lucked out and had nothing but supported laptops?

          1. Bob Vegan

            I suppose it means 2 things, first, you get official support and warranty, and second, the distros will be Secure Boot approved in the UEFI, instead of distro makers having to figuratively ask Microsoft for pretty please permission.

          2. Dave559 Silver badge

            @jason_derp: I think you must have been lucky! Yes, Linux mostly "just works" nowadays, but there are still rather too many flakey WiFi or Bluetooth chipsets out there, for example, that can be distinctly unfriendly for new users to try to get working, sadly.

            If this means that Lenovo will now be taking care to spec only chipsets that definitely work in Linux, that's

            definite good news, as it will hopefully have a ripple effect on crappy chipset makers, getting them to design and test their hardware with Linux properly, for fear of losing all potential business from Lenovo.

          3. herman Silver badge

            "Have I just lucked out and had nothing but supported laptops?" The only laptops I ever had trouble with were Sony and Toshiba. Everything else just worked for me.

    6. S4qFBxkFFg

      This is why I got rid of Snap - somehow, it managed to break dconf (which is itself a problem, but at least appears to be better behaved) by getting it to attempt to save a user's settings in a file only writable by root:

    7. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      "If we're not careful, it could become the new 'systemd' problem"

      And you said it in the FIRST post, too!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Linux Mint devs have a valid point here

    Your PC tied to one single app store with you having no say in how the applications behave, now where have we seen this before ?

    Candy Crush installer pushed on your Linux Desktop, anyone ? Because you know you want it! Badly!

    Linux Mint team prove to be wise when they kept open the option of moving to a Debian based version

    1. CAPS LOCK

      Re: Linux Mint devs have a valid point here

      I think a move to LMDE is inevitable now.

      1. SleepyD

        Re: Linux Mint devs have a valid point here

        You’ll then want to use something like snaps or flat pack for more up-to-date software. Debian is a great base but the software is too outdated.

  3. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Bad neighbor

    The fact that snap creates ~/snap by itself tells me that the developers are at best extremely arrogant. You do NOT get to claim subdirectories in MY homedir unless they start with a '.'. This has been true since.... Well, since I got onto a Unice in the early 90's, at least.

    Now, I find out that this is being driven by Canonical? Again? I moved to Mint to get away from some of their garbage in the first place.

    Hey, Mint, team! Switch your upstream to Devuan. Because every week, I'm thinking about switching directly there myself...

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Bad neighbor

      As an even older unix hack myself, I demand nothing creates anything in my home directory if DOTDIR is defined....

      Though that ship has long since sailed...

    2. Grease Monkey Silver badge

      Re: Bad neighbor

      You didn't like Canonical so you migrated from Ubuntu to the Ubuntu based Mint? Go on then, explain the logic behind that one.

      1. CAPS LOCK

        "...explain the logic behind that "

        Not too difficult, the Mint team remove all the bad stuff added by Canonical and add better desktop environments. You should try it, you never know, you might like it...

        1. ovation1357

          Re: "...explain the logic behind that "

          I'm considering whether to move back to mint again although what happened in my case is that I started with Ubuntu and GNOME2 desktop and was so incensed when an upgrade between LTS releases left me with a choice of Unity or a very half-baked GNOME3 that I discovered the MATE desktop project and, given that I was going through the undesired, forced effort of trying to recreate my desktop customisation from scratch, I took the plunge and when over to Mint.

          The trouble with MATE desktop on Mint is that they mess with it quite a lot to make it look more like Windows than like GNOME2 and I had to spent a load of time unpicking those changes.

          The other problem (and this was a few years back so maybe they've improved) - the only official way to upgrade Mint was to backup, wipe and start again. I tried the more Ubuntu-like option of switching to the new repos and using apt to upgrade but it wasn't a smooth experience and left me with various bits of broken config.

          I was tempted back to Ubuntu when I tried the 18.04 MATE Edition and discovered that the desktop environment is much closer to GNOME2 out of the box - they don't mess with it and leave it how the MATE team indented it to look and feel.

          However, I've always been a bit mixed about snap and am veering on the direction of wanting to get rid of it. It seems to be slow and rather cumbersome.

          In my recent upgrade to 20.04 I've discovered that a number of my favourite tools have adopted some 'design' elements of GNOME3 and no longer have a menu bar, put f*#king 'hamburger' menus into the title bar and use silly pop-up speech bubbles in place of context menus!

          In other words I'm heading back to square one again - the whole point of the MATE project was to keep GNOME2 alive so that keyboard+mouse users didn't have their UI broken during some insane quest a-la Unity and TIFKAM to make everything mobile/tablet friendly. Now, I find that this nonsense is creeping back in again.

          So Mint+MATE could be worth a spin but I may be looking even further afield this time.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge

            Re: "...explain the logic behind that "

            "insane quest a-la Unity and TIFKAM to make everything mobile/tablet friendly. Now, I find that this nonsense is creeping back in again."

            I have not seen this in Devuan, nor in the Mate installs I use in FreeBSD. I also haven't installed a new Devuan or Mint distro for a while. If hamburger menus and 'speech bubbles' are being added, we still have the old source out there and can revert it as a fork.

            Devuan and Mate were created because of what happened with SystemD and Gnome 3. Let's hope it's NOT time for ANOTHER distro/desktop fork.

            1. ovation1357

              Re: "...explain the logic behind that "

              Aside from the big name web browsers which seem to have led this damn hamburger menu trend (but at least still allow you to enable classic title and menu bars), the offenders I've noticed so far include Remmina (awesome RDP/VNC client), Simple Scan (now also renamed to 'Document Scanner' so I couldn't initially find it) and the 'Disks' control panel.

              Upon closer inspection I found that Simple Scan is pretty much controlled by a single developer at Canonical and it originally checked an environment variable which could trigger classic menus, but that code has been removed so it's now hamburger or bust.

              For document scanning it's the only really neat and simple program I've found. Obviously there is XSane but that looks terribly dated and is way more powerful and complicated than I need for everyday use.

              I have downloaded the simple scan source code but unless I can persuade its maintainer that there are many of us out there who still want a more classic look then I imagine the only other option would be to fork it and create yet another version.

              And Remmina has also gone and done what I've seen in many other applications including Gimp and LibreOffice: It has got rid of all of its clear and bold colour icons and emblems and has replaced them all with 'modernised' conceptual monochrome ones that look horrible and aren't nearly as user friendly. In the case of Gimp and LibreOffice I can switch themes but the maintainers of Remmina haven't included any theming preferences :-(

              I've learnt today that the GTK3 'speech bubble' menus I referred to are called 'popouts' and they seem to be the default way of rendering items attached to menu buttons unless the developer explicitly asks not to use them in which case you then get a proper GtkMenu.

              For a flat menu with no sub-menus it's bearable but all sub menus require you to click on them causing the whole menu to change and you can't get back with moving the mouse up and clicking a back button! It's not at all efficient for using a mouse.

              I'd probably get more mileage out of building a hacked GTK3 library which globally disables this nonsense but the GNOME team seems to have a reputation for being very much 'do it our way or get lost' and I was reading today that they're allegedly planning to make GTK4 even less configurable... So I'm going to guess that I'd never get a patch accepted to make popouts configurable. I wonder if the MATE team could be persuaded to roll their own variant of GTK?

              1. bombastic bob Silver badge

                Re: "...explain the logic behind that "

                so it's "the new-shiny feature creep" "MODERN" GTK 3 that's doing it...

                WHY am I *NOT* Surprised!!!

                And here I was doing experiments with GTK (in particular, menus, hadn't gotten far with it) for a possible project recently. Giving that up, now.

                1. ovation1357

                  Re: "...explain the logic behind that "

                  Correction: they're called 'popovers' not popouts.

                  Sadly I have to agree with your choice Bob. I personally always find Qt based GUIs much nicer to use but I've never got on well with KDE so a great deal of what I use is GTK based.

                  If you take a look at the screenshot on the front page of you'll see a screenshot of their 'Glade' tool which serves as an example of what these new bastardised title bars with embedded menu buttons looks like.

                  I don't mind if they want to mess about with experimental UI concepts but it needs to be configurable. The past few years seems to have be a race between Microsoft and various players in the Linux world to see who can produce the worst abomination of a UI. It's as if there's been a ritualistic burning of the UI design rule book that led to many years of largely stable and consistent user experience across all platforms :-(

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bad neighbor

      Fuck yes! This is a cancer from Windows, where random games decide they're going to put their stupid configuration directories in My Documents (instead of the Application Data subtree). They're invariably nested several levels deep, and end with a single 10 byte file to store your high score or something. Fucking idiots.

    4. Lomax

      Re: Bad neighbor

      Devuan +1

      I've been running it on my main laptop, a local server and a whole bunch of Pis since "ASCII". Recently migrated to "Beowulf" (which incidentally was released yesterday) and was blown away by the speed & quality improvements. It's a superb distro - and I've tried a few, including Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Mint, Alpine, Debian, Red Hat, and others I can't remember. Never been down the Arch, Slack or BSD paths, but that's mainly because I started my Linux journey on Ubuntu and got used to the Debian way. I would recommend anyone with an interest in Linux to give Devuan a go - you may never look back!

    5. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Bad neighbor

      "Hey, Mint, team! Switch your upstream to Devuan. Because every week, I'm thinking about switching directly there myself..."

      it has worked well for me.

  4. Barry Rueger

    If it's not broken, don't fix it.

    Actually I appreciate the clear and detailed explanation of the reasons why Canonical is choosing to mandate Snap. I can see the logic.

    However at the end of the day I'll stick with whatever Mint decides is best for me. Year in and year out I enjoy a stable, reliable, and consistent environment that "just works" and which thankfully shows very little change between versions. I appreciate that I can pick up a new (to me) laptop and have Mint installed and configured to suit my needs in less than fifteen minutes. And that thereafter I can ignore it, let updates install without worries, and trust that it won't suddenly break itself.

    Our household includes my two Mint boxes, two Windows 10 laptops, and a shiny new iMac. I'll leave it you to guess which computers have the least issues.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If it's not broken, don't fix it.

      Is MS Edge Chrome available for Mint? Serious question, honest!

      1. Bob Vegan

        Re: If it's not broken, don't fix it.

        I don't think it's even out yet?

    2. Lomax
      Thumb Up

      Re: If it's not broken, don't fix it.

      Or, as LP might say: if it's not broken, fix it until it is.

      Canonical are clearly trying hard to become the next Red Hat. How much is a Shuttle worth these days? Personally, I'm laughing all the way to the Devuan.

  5. cd

    It is spring...

    Sounds like the garden needs weeding.

  6. Arbuthnot the Magnificent

    Debian and Debian derivatives

    If you want a shiny Debian-based distro that's as neat, tidy, fast, well-supported and full-featured as Mint but without Canonical interference there's MX, which also has the bonus of choice between systemd or not. For a purer Debian-but-no-d experience Devuan is getting pretty good these days - I keep an ASCII partition as it's the only way I can get my organisations outdated Pulse Secure VPN client to work.

    1. Zolko Silver badge

      Re: Debian and Debian derivatives

      holly crap, Devuan Beowulf (v3.0.0) has been released and ElReg didn't say it ! Well, time to switch I guess (3m22s left of the desktop-live download)

      1. twellys

        Re: Debian and Debian derivatives

        +1 for noticing - Now downloading!

        1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

          Re: Debian and Debian derivatives

          Been running Beowulf here on my two main machines for a while now - not seeing any issues.

      2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Debian and Debian derivatives

        holly crap, Devuan Beowulf (v3.0.0) has been released and ElReg didn't say it ! Well, time to switch I guess (3m22s left of the desktop-live download)

        See here.

    2. Lomax

      Re: Debian and Debian derivatives

      I switched my apt sources to Beowulf a couple weeks ago, and did an aptitude full-upgrade with only minor difficulty. Beowulf feels faster and more responsive than ASCII on my main laptop (i7 X230), and ASCII was already plenty fast. Result!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The worst thing about snap is that it runs contrary to the concept of shared libraries that are easy to upgrade. Each snap package includes the dependencies for the app, which means you may have multiple (vulnerable) versions of a library installed. It's DLL hell all over again from a security perspective.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      re: It's DLL hell all over again


      Canonical are really taking whole chapters out of the Microsoft 'How To' book.

      Do it our way or not at all.

      Good for the likes of Mint to say NO.

      What was so wrong with the .deb package format anyway?

      We got through 'RPM Hell' which mostly went away with tools like 'yum' and now Canonical are foisting this onto people. They'll start wondering where all their disk space went. Memories of the sort of issues we had 20+ years ago.

      I never really got on with Ubuntu despite everyone in the LUG telling me that it was the greatest thing since... the last greatest thing. Now? hardly any of them use it. Mint is the most popular. Perhaps Canonical really need to listen to their users (unlike Microsoft)?

      1. Bo Lox

        Re: re: It's DLL hell all over again

        They WILL become the mainstream alternative to MS and Apple over the next few years and Lenovo has recognised / encouraged this.

        It wouldn't entirey surprise me if at some point down the road MS realise that keeping their PoS going is hugely expensive and they take over Canonical. Ubuntu becoming their main OS progressively, Windows becoming eventually a legacy VM within Ubuntu.

    2. sabroni Silver badge

      re: It's DLL hell all over again

      Dll hell was caused by multiple apps on the same device requiring different versions of dependencies. As dlls were shared that couldn't be resolved.

      Giving each app it's own versions of its dependencies is a way of avoiding dll hell.

      I'm not saying this a good thing but it avoids that specific problem.

      1. teknopaul Silver badge

        Re: re: It's DLL hell all over again

        So does a folder full of libs, if needs be, a chroot, no need for snap nonsense.

        I'm happy to see everyone is agreed that snap is awful. Ubuntu are forcing something, Linux people like simple, and we like choice.

        Rarely see 100% upvotes in el reg, someone should send this comment stream to Ubuntu in the hope they back off.

        I dont mind that snap exists but forcing people to use it, shows how bad it is.

        You can't get a non snap app in Ubuntu app store. You have to sell you soul and say goodbye to everyday stuff like /etc access. I tried. Once. Never again.

        The idea that its hard to maintain snap and .deb for chromium is a straight up lie. Snap packaging is hard, (they keep changing the rules) packaging .debs is trivial. Speaking from experiece packaging chromium.

    3. DrXym

      It's not DLL hell, it's the opposite. DLL hell was when (Windows) apps used the same DLL in the same directory and one of them overwrote the DLL with an incompatible version. It is why Windows began blocking installing DLLs into C:\windows and ensuring DLLs were loaded from the executable's folder first. These days if you have 5 different QT based apps, you have 5 copies of QT in those app folders.

      These snap apps are similar to that, each installs to their own folder with their own copies of any libs and resources they use. It is so they cannot interfere with each other. And from a security perspective snap allows them to run with the principle of least privilege in a sandbox. So yes they could potentially be vulnerable to something but the threat is also mitigated to a large degree by the way they do run and interact with the rest of the OS.

      My biggest issue with snap is not the concept per se but that it's a mostly Ubuntu thing and FlatPak and AppImage are similar ideas. For once it would be nice if the Linux world would consolidate around a single technology instead of fragmenting like this.

  8. Mike_R


    Still at vanilla Ub 18.04

    No problem removing snapd and all its (not-so-little) appendages.

    Saved several Gbs of disk space which no longer have to be backed up (bi-monthly, to a DVD, so there is a space limit)

    If 20.x forces snap on me its probable bye-bye ubuntu, hello mint!

    1. NATTtrash

      Re: Snapless

      Did my first Xubuntu 20.04 LTS last month: no (dependency) trouble at all to remove snap and its systemd tentacles...

      1. teknopaul Silver badge

        Re: Snapless

        Its not too complicated but it is an annoyance.

        I want /etc/hosts, /etc/resolv.conf, /etc/nsswitch.conf, /etc/rc.local and all the standard stuff to work. The heavy lifting is done in the kernel. All they need to do is leave it alone.

        Its getting harder to make Ubuntu behave like Linux.

        Changing distro for me entails a lot of hacking bash. Installing Ubuntu, then uninstalling netplan, systemd, lxd and snapd seemed easier, but my next build is not going to be Ubuntu.

  9. gvp
    Thumb Up

    Money where my mouth is

    Time for another donation to Linux Mint.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I do understand the point of view of old time Unix/Linux people - being one myself. But I do also understand Canonical's point of view.

    Linux on a phone works because, most likely, something under 1% of all users actually want to mess about with things in any great detail. It has been made easy.

    Linux on the desktop won't take off until it is equally easy. Snap may be dumbed down, restricted and all the rest of it, but for ordinary users it's easier - and more secure - than the alternative. So long as you can remove it if you want, and not by accident, it's not really a problem.

    We do want Linux to be mainstream, don't we? We do want hardware better supported and cheaper, more high quality applications and so on? Starting down the long tail of less instructed users seems to be inevitable in order to get there.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      But how can we lord it over others and claim superiority if they're all using it???

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        See also BMW and Tesla owners.

        If Tesla does become the largest US-based carmaker, many of the buyers will, I'm sure, think of reasons to move onto something else.

    2. Lomax

      >We do want Linux to be mainstream, don't we?

      Not at any cost.

      1. teknopaul Silver badge

        The cost of snap is too high.

        Its Linux ffs. We want it lean, mean, open, stable, file based, and bash friendly. We want our tools to work together, and above all, we want choice.

        Snap is none of that.

    3. DropBear

      We do want Linux to be mainstream, don't we?

      We do. But first and foremost, _I_ want my Linux box to be under _my_ absolute control and answerable to and serving absolutely nobody but _me_; that other goal can never ever be anything but subordinate to this one, full stop. There's nothing to balance here for me - in a direct conflict, maintaining control has 100% importance, increasing popularity has 0.00%.

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        re: We do. But first and foremost.....

        Really sounds like "We don't" when you read the rest of your post.

        "I want it to be adopted by other people but ONLY ONCE THEY'VE BECOME EXACTLY LIKE ME!"

        1. Lomax

          Re: re: We do. But first and foremost.....

          "Other people" already have plenty of choices - what sets Linux apart is the level of control you have over it.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Raymond Berenger - I don't care

      about Linux becoming mainstream. What the year of Linux on Desktop would bring me that I don't have now ? I've been a Linux fan/user for a long time but I do not want it being foisted upon large mass of users and in the process ending up with a Windows-ized Linux.

      I chose Linux because it is an OS that I can trust and it trusts me too and I can say it is not the first time Canonical is trying to attack this mutual trust. This strong two way trust is what makes me accept the imperfections of Linux desktop. Take this away and I can go back to Windows. For the same amount of freedom (or lack of it), I'll go with the OS that is more polished and trouble free.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'll go with the OS that is more polished and trouble free.

        You stick with what you know. It's trouble free because you know how to use it. That's achievable on any of the main OSs, even (gasp!) Windows.

        1. teknopaul Silver badge

          Re: I'll go with the OS that is more polished and trouble free.

          Many things are impossible in Windows because you dont have the source. Code and drivers must be signed by Microsoft. To run you own code on your own PC.

          Getting root on many Apple OSes is forbidden.

          Same for AIX, and other comercial Unix.

          With Linux, given time, all is possible.

  11. MrBanana

    I've just fired up Kubuntu 20.04 and, although I see snapd installed, I don't see it involved in anything running on the system. After a dose of "sudo apt remove snapd" I don't seem to have a problem. Apart from a bunch of systemd cruft that has a load of snap components, and the unwelcome /snap/README, left like a stinking turd in my root directory.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Apparently snapd USED to be much harder to remove as it had all kinds of hooks into various system components, but in the last few months it's been scaled back somewhat. When I tried to remove snap last month, a lot of the online Q&A pages I read simply said "You can't, really. Well, you can, but it's not easy" though apparently it's been made a bit easier since

  12. BenM 29 Silver badge

    Ubuntu Update Snap nightmare...

    Updated a VM from 18.04 - 20.04 yesterday (yeah I know its unsupported, but if you hack a couple of files you can get it to update to 19.04 and thence to 20.04)... 18.04 machine worked fine with the network proxy (apt update/upgrade worked just dandy, web browsing also), unfortunately when running do-release-upgrade it would fail at the "can't connect to'

    Apparently snapd doesn't use the system proxy, you have to specifically tell it which proxy in systemd service configuration type files (or with snap set system http-proxy= etc.)

    The number of system level things, on many platforms, that don't look at system wide proxy settings, especially things fundamental to the operation of the O/S, is too high; to mandate the use of one of those things in a 'serious' O/S is, IMHO, a trifle myopic.

    1. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: Ubuntu Update Snap nightmare...

      By design, snap apps have no access to /etc.

      They live in their own little world, but instead of a normal chroot, they are splatted all over the standard Linux filesystem layout. With other bits mounted hither and thither.

      Its a mess, and subject to change with each release.

    2. Mike_R

      Re: Ubuntu Update Snap nightmare...

      Updating 18.04 LTS to 20.04 LTS *IS SUPPORTED*

      You just had to wait for 20.4.1 (and a couple of update gliches that had to be fixed)

      Been there, done that.

      Easy enough to remove snap and all its appurttunances. . Google / DuckDuck are your friends.

  13. karlkarl Silver badge

    Is this even necessary?

    I run a fairly ancient RedHat Enterprise 6 on my 32-bit test machine and if I need something requiring Gtk3 (such as a latest Firefox or Chrome), I just make a chroot and use debootstrap (from EPEL) to get me a Debian 9 userland for that program. Easy. No bizarre "app stores", no conflicting packages.

    Do people use Snap app-stores because they don't know how to use the chroot command? Or are they just lazy?

    If it is because they want the added security of a container, substitute chroot with lxc... Shouldn't be necessary though; if you avoid non-ethical software (i.e App-stores), you are very unlikely to need the added security.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I've already said this, but if you think the average desktop computer user thinks a sentence beginning "I just make a chroot..." makes any kind of sense, you haven't been paying attention to the level of intelligence of the general public.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Raymon Berenger

        Well, that user can safely stay with Windows. Hiding these things from me makes wish that.

      2. sabroni Silver badge

        re: you haven't been paying attention to the level of intelligence of the general public.

        It's not intelligence that means you can understand that, it's just familiarity.

        Get over yourself.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's Snap that drove me to Arch, so it did me a huge favour. Seeing things like GNOME as a snap and other 'core' products wasn't something I was comfortable with. Personally, I prefer flatpaks as a packaging format when compared to snap and appimage.

    I agree that Linux needs an app delivery format, but snap's current implementation isn't it.

    Oh, I rather like systemd too. meh.

    1. Lomax

      >Linux needs an app delivery format

      Yeah, it's incredible that it has managed to survive for so long without one.

      Also missing: a Linux tutorial for new users during set-up. Should include a section on APT/YUM and FHS.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        New users don't need to setup anything. All major Linux distributions come as live image so you just boot from it (sorry for PC users who don not know what's that) and try to enjoy it.

        As for APT/YUM and others, suffice to know how to read and the desire to learn. Just start a Google search with the words "how to".

        I didn't have an official Microsoft tutorial on how to install Windows 10 and I managed to do it several times using the same tools I recommend here.

        1. Lomax

          Re: @Lomax

          @Anonymous Coward: see icon.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So they want to "reduce fragmentation"


  16. DrewWyatt

    Snap can cause issues

    I found that snap can cause lots of issues. I installed keepass using snap, and it installed as a sandboxed app. Very nice for security you would think. Well, a short while later, after 3 upgrades to keepass, it deleted the oldest snap container, which just happened to contain my password file. So secure that even you can't use your passwords now!

    Why did I put the kdb in the snap file system? Because the app is sandboxed, so I had no choice.

    +1 For Devuan here, running it on my home and work machines, and on my son's laptop, despite his IT teacher telling him to install a proper operating system like Windows 10....

  17. Steve Graham

    What's this about having to compile multiple versions of Chromium for the same architecture?

    1. teknopaul Silver badge

      If upstream code presumes things will work that dont in snap (e.g. accesses /tmp or /etc) the snap maintainer has to rewrite that code and maintain a fork. Pointless work.

      Packaging for .deb is a no-brainer.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Steve Graham - Nothing wrong.

    Also nothing wrong with snap which can be improved in good old Linux tradition.

    What's wrong here is Canonical trying to position itself as a powerhouse and ascertain control over Linux users.

    They have to start monetizing their OS somehow or else they will become irrelevant. As Microsoft teaches us, you can't monetize users that are not locked into your platform.

    1. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: @Steve Graham - Nothing wrong.

      Canonical have a revenue stream.

      Trouble with lock-in is you can lock yourself in. Microsoft locked people to Windows Server and then found out it is a poor approach for containers: ended up selling Linux on Azure and lost a lot of customers to Aws while they got up to speed.

      Canonical would do well to make sure they dont complicate things for whatever the next big Linux shift is. I suspect zerocopy is going to be big, it can significantly improve performance provided you stay in one kernel. If someone can find a way to zerocopy data across containers, in theory you could have data pass through a firewall, nginx, your app tier, into the database and onto the filesystem, without copying it once instead of copying it 8 times.

  19. W. Anderson

    Snapd becoming Canonical dominator

    In the past six months I had had serious problems with Snap as well as Snap packages on latest openSuSE Linux distributions that I use daily as primary desktop for personal and business, that I never have with Flatpaks.

    It appears that Canonical is continuing it's vice grip of unliateral, maybe dictatorial control on the development of Snap to the benefit of Ubuntu, but to the detriment of groups like Linuxmint, and all other non-Ubuntu based Linux distributions - like CentOS/Redhat, Suse/openSuSe, Solus, Arch/Manjaro, PCLinuxOS, etc, that are pushing Flatpak as a truly cross-distro application solution that works equally well and non-problematic for all. .

    This bad behavior of Canonical has started manifesting itself in other areas as well.

    Too Bad.

  20. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Call me cynical, but is Snap possibly a resource hog as well?

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Oh, yes!!

  21. Grogan Bronze badge

    Well, fortunately an old school user like me can build my own system from scratch, my way, with all the old school goodness like init and shell scripting ("sysvinit scripts" whether SystemV or BSD init), ALSA only audio, Shadow only logins (no PAM), software installed to desired prefixes for ease of maintenance by hand, minimal dependencies, and normal old school directories like /bin, /lib and /sbin instead of "usrmerge" symlinks pointing to /usr. Oh yeah, and a kernel built without performance harming security mitigations... pfft.

    That's what I'm using now, except I reboot to a customized Manjaro setup for games (Because for gaming, you need a lot of rubbish x 2 for lib32) which still beats the Hell out of booting to Windows to play games.

    I swear distributors have lost their fucking minds. Even good distros like Slackware are starting to find it difficult to not conform with the new wave of dictatorial bullshit.

    Snap is utterly retarded, and if that were to become the norm, there's no way I would use any distribution that forces it (and by force, I mean making it the only way to get a lot of packages)

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good. But I think it's a little bit too late. They've already taken the system D poison pill. I recently moved from Mint to devuan, and although it is not quite as easy to use out of the box it's easy enough. And once it's setup works much better than any other distro I've tried recently.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like