Linux Mint Drops Snap

Jun 08, 2020

Linux Mint has officially dropped their support for Canonical’s snap packages.

In a move that surprised many within the Linux landscape, Linux Mint (one of the most popular desktop distributions) has decided to drop support for the universal snap package system.

What are snap packages? Simply put, they are a way to combine an application and all of its dependencies into a single package. By doing this, an application can be installed on any supporting operating system, regardless of desktop or default package manager.

The idea of leaving behind snap packages began in 2019, when Clement “Clem” Lefebvre said, “When Snap was announced it was supposed to be a solution, not a problem.” Clem continues, “It was supposed to make it possible to run newer apps on top of older libraries and to let third-party editors publish their software easily towards multiple distributions, just like Flatpak and AppImage.”

That sentiment came to a boil recently, when Clem said, “ the Ubuntu 20.04 package base, the Chromium package is indeed empty and acting, without your consent, as a backdoor by connecting your computer to the Ubuntu Store.” In other words, Clem makes the claim that if you issue the command sudo apt-get install chromium -y, instead of it installing the .deb package, it instead installs the Chromium snap package. To this, Clem says, “Applications in this store cannot be patched, or pinned. You can’t audit them, hold them, modify them or even point snap to a different store. You’ve as much empowerment with this as if you were using proprietary software, i.e. none. 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.”

For users who want to continue with Mint, and would like to use snap packages, you can always install snapd after installing Linux Mint  20. But don’t expect much in the way of app store integration, like that found in Ubuntu.

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