Canonical Announces Cross-Distro Support for Snaps

Jun 29, 2016

Ubuntu Vendor tries to solve app packaging and distribution problem across distributions.

Canonical, the parent company of Ubuntu, announced cross-distro support for Snaps, a new package management system developed by Canonical. Although both Red Hat and SUSE have said they didn’t collaborate on the project, Canonical says it worked with developers from Fedora, Arch Linux, and Gentoo to take Snaps beyond Ubuntu.

Linux is in need of a different approach to software packaging and deployment. Even Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux kernel, is not happy with the current situation. He didn’t offer binaries of his SubSurface diving log software for Linux desktop, whereas binaries exist for Windows and macOS.

Dirk Hohndel, the maintainer of SubSurface, explained, “The current situation with dozens of distributions, each with different rules, each with different versions of different libraries, some with certain libraries missing, each with different packaging tools and packaging formats... that basically tells app developers 'go away, focus on platforms that care about applications'.”

Red Hat and SUSE have expressed misgivings about Snaps, citing the Contributor License Agreement (CLA) requirements by Canonical as a potential deal breaker.

Red Hat is reportedly backing Flatpack, another Snaps-like approach to app distribution on Linux. This is not the first time Canonical is at odds with the larger Linux community. Similar conflicts have erupted previously, such as Upstart vs systemd and Mir vs Wayland.

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