Linux Mint Distances Itself From Canonical’s Snap

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The popular Linux Mint distribution ends support for Canonical’s Snap package manager, saying the system is comparable to proprietary software

The popular Linux Mint distribution of Linux has ended support for Canonical’s Snap package management system, saying Canonical controls Snap too tightly and comparing it to proprietary software.

“You’ve as much empowerment with this as if you were using proprietary software, i.e. none,” said lead Linux Mint developer Clement “Clem” Lefebvre in a notice to users.

“This is in effect similar to a commercial proprietary solution, but with two major differences: It runs as root, and it installs itself without asking you.”

Canonical developed Snap for its own Ubuntu Linux distribution in order to get around some of the dependency problems posed by older package managers, such as APT or YUM.


Automation

Those systems require each release to be tailored for a particular distribution, in order to ensure that the libraries the app depends upon are present.

Snap, along with similar package managers such as AppImage or Flatpak, bundles an application’s dependencies together with the app and runs the software inside a compressed, self-contained file structure.

That increases package size, but means developers can distribute new software much more quickly, since the packages can run as-is across a range of distributions.

Canonical has included Snap by default in Ubuntu desktop images since version 16.04, and has ported Snap to a number of other distributions.

Some have criticised the company for retaining too much control over the way Snap works, however.

Lefebvre’s own comments are particularly notable since Linux Mint is itself based on Ubuntu.

As such, Linux Mint can either accept or modify basic Ubuntu features such as Snap.

In this case, Linux Mint has never included the Snap daemon, snapd, or any snaps.

User alert

But beginning with Linux Mint 20, the distribution is to go a step further and add a warning when users try to launch a Snap-dependent package, such as Canonical’s version of the Google open source browser project Chromium.

Users will, however, continue to have the option to install Snap if they wish to do so.

“In Linux Mint 20, Chromium won’t be an empty package which installs snapd behind your back,” Lefebvre wrote. “It will be an empty package which tells you why it’s empty and tells you where to look to get Chromium yourself.”

APT in Linux Mint 20 will also prevent snapd from being installed by repository packages on the user’s behalf.

“You’ll still be able to install it yourself and we’ll document this in the release notes,” Lefebvre wrote.

Linux Mint 20, based on Ubuntu 20.04, is set for release later in June.

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