Why does TUXEDO OS not support Snap? - TUXEDO Computers

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Why does TUXEDO OS not support Snap?

What is the Snap package format?

In recent years, in addition to the traditional package formats (DEB, RPM), alternative package systems have been developed that differ from the traditional formats both in the way they are created and in their properties. The speech is of Flatpak and Snap and with some concessions also AppImage. Flatpak was created by the GNOME community, the development is supported by Red Hat, and it is the alternative format most likely to be supported by the community.

Snap, on the other hand, was developed by Canonical mainly for cloud and Internet of Things (IoT) products that are based on Ubuntu but do not necessarily affect or interest desktop users.

Recently, Canonical has been increasingly steering Ubuntu away from the traditional DEB format and towards Snap. As a result, in Ubuntu 22.04, the Firefox and Chromium browsers, among other packages, are only delivered in Snap format. For developers, this concept is an advantage because they do not have to create distribution-specific packages, as Snaps as well as Flatpaks run on all supported distributions. For the user, it means that Firefox still takes over 10 seconds to start, even after some current optimizations by Canonical, while the Debian package is ready in under two seconds.

What distinguishes a snap from a Debian package?

A Debian package has the extension .deb and is a compressed archive that contains meta-information such as required dependencies and copyright information in addition to the program files. The packages are built, maintained and supported by the maintainers of Debian or its derivatives. In doing so, peculiarities of the respective distribution are taken into account. Maintainers provide an interface between the developer of an application and its user. DEB packages are usually a few KByte to a few MByte in size and are installed and managed with the tool dpkg and its frontends apt or aptitude or with graphical tools like Synaptics, Discover or GNOME Software.

Snap, like Flatpak, is also a container format and has been available since 2014. Both formats have advantages and disadvantages and are not yet fully accepted in the Linux scene. Criticism is directed against both for different reasons. The most obvious difference between a snap and a Debian package is the size. If a DEB rarely goes beyond a few MBytes, snaps are often in the order of 100 or more MBytes.

This is because the container of a snap carries all the dependencies of the application, such as required libraries, while the DEB only contains references to them. The supposed difference in size can be seen as a disadvantage and also calls into question the principle of using shared libraries. An undeniable advantage of this approach is that multiple versions of a piece of software can exist in different snaps on a system without much effort.

While all this likely falls into the realm of individual preference, there is also concrete criticism of the overall Snap model. The main criticism hits the Snap Store as a backend. The shop is under a proprietary license and under Canonical's sole control, unlike the flatpak store Flathub. In addition, Snaps have been forced on users for some time now, as Firefox and Chromium, among others, are only delivered as Snap. Besides the paternalism, users are also annoyed by the comparatively long loading time of the snaps as well as the fact that they update themselves without the user being asked.

How does TUXEDO deal with snaps?

TUXEDO OS, which is currently based on Ubuntu 22.04 LTS "Jammy Jellyfish", and the KDE Plasma desktop environment, does not ship snaps for the reasons mentioned above and does not pre-install snapd, the background service responsible for installing and using snaps, on the image. On TUXEDO OS, we have pre-installed the browser Chromium as a Debian package. We believe that classic packaging is beneficial for the vast majority of our customers. Of course, the customer can install snapd and use snaps as they please. To do so, a package has to be removed, that blocks the installation of Snap:
sudo rm -f /etc/apt/preferences.d/10-tuxedo-snapWhen that is done, Snap can be installed with:
sudo apt install snapd

Are you using Ubuntu 22.04 instead of TUXEDO OS? Then our article How can I use Firefox as a Debian package as an Ubuntu user? explains how you can exchange Firefox's snap for the original Debian package.