Linux packaging format Snap becomes a bone of contention between Mint and Ubuntu

Ubuntu 20.04 increasingly relies on the Snap package format – to the displeasure of the Linux Mint team, which does not want to deliver Snaps from Canonical to its own users.

 Linux package format Snap becomes a bone of contention between Mint and Ubuntu

The house blessing is terribly wrong currently on Ubuntu and Mint. The latter is known to be an Ubuntu derivative and obtains a large part of its packages directly from Ubuntu. This is not unusual in the world of Linux distributions – Ubuntu itself is also a derivative of Debian GNU/Linux. However, there is now trouble because of the Canonical package format Snap: The minds behind Mint Linux don’t like it at all.

Unlike packages in Ubuntu’s classic “deb” format, Snap packages run on everyone Linux system with Snap runtime environment. This saves software manufacturers and above all Canonical a lot of work.

Canonical is consistently expanding the use of snaps in Ubuntu 20.04. Although the “deb” format continues to dominate on servers, Canonical is now starting to deliver more and more applications exclusively in snap format and no longer (also) in “deb” format on desktops. Exactly this development is the stumbling block for the Mint developers.

Because they are currently planning a new one version of your distribution. For the first time, Ubuntu 20.04 forms the technical basis. As a result, several desktop apps are no longer available in the “deb” format but in the classic form. If users install a “deb” package on Ubuntu systems that Canonical has replaced with a snap, the system automatically connects to Canonical’s snap store in the background and loads the snap onto the system. That’s exactly what gets Mint project manager Clement Lefebvre upset.

In fact, he says in the monthly newsletter on the Linux Mint blog, it’s a backdoor that Canonical sets up on users’ systems. From the users’ point of view, Snaps are like proprietary applications. Because snaps are not auditable, they cannot be changed and it is also not possible to use a different store instead of the canonical snap store. Canonical has put the software for operating its own snap server under a proprietary license and is not releasing it. Mint can therefore not offer its own snaps.

Accordingly, according to Lefebvre, Canonical will be installed automatically -Disable Snaps in Mint Linux. The release notes of future Mint versions should contain appropriate information. Also an explanation of how users can use the Canonical snaps if they wish. At least in the case of Chromium, there is an alternative option to obtain the browser directly from the manufacturer.

Alan Pope , Ubuntu’s Community Manager, expressed to ZDnet a certain understanding for the reservations within the community. On the other hand, he also pointed out how much work the maintenance of various packages such as Chromium causes for various distributions and versions. However, Pope did not go into detail about Lefebvre’s criticism – a strategy that could still take revenge.

Because the very fact that the Snap server is not free software is an open affront to true fans of the FL/OSS movement. It’s true that not many voice their displeasure as loudly as Clement Lefebvre; but he is probably not alone with his opinion.

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