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Linux Mint votes no on Snap packages, APT to block snapd installs

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The Linux Mint distribution team put out another of their monthly updates, and this month was quite interesting.

In the past the Linux Mint team had been quite vocal about Snaps, the next-generation Linux packaging system backed by Ubuntu maker Canonical. Like Flatpak, they're trying to redefine how Linux users install packages. The main issue here it seems (from what they said) is that Snaps are more locked-down. They compared Snaps to using proprietary software as you "can't audit them, hold them, modify them or even point snap to a different store", it pushes Ubuntu directly and Snaps are done in the background.

Mint's founder Clément Lefèbvre has said that with Linux Mint 20, they will push back firmly against Snaps. Currently in Ubuntu, which Mint builds off, Chromium is an empty package which installs a Snap (info) so the Mint team will ensure it tells you why and how to go and get Chromium yourself. Additionally, by default APT on Mint will not let snapd get installed but you will be able to do so manually.

NVIDIA users rejoice! NVIDIA Optimus is to get better Mint support, with their included applet being able to show your GPU and select what card to use from the menu.

Optimus support goes further though, as they will also now fully support the “On-Demand” profile too in the MATE and Cinnamon desktops directly. You will be able to get a menu option to run something with the more powerful NVIDIA GPU. Like we've seen GNOME be able to do with the 3.36 release:

As for theme changes, the additions and tweaks to colours they previously announced will not happen due to a fair amount of negative feedback. They're not stopping though, instead they will seek feedback about each colour option individually during the Beta period of Linux Mint 20.

See the Linux Mint monthly update here. Their attention to the small details are always nice to see.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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74 comments
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CatKiller 3 Jun
It's worth people watching this video - part of a much longer interview - so that they're informed about snaps.
Patola 3 Jun
That's wonderful. Congratulations, Mr. Lefèbvre, kudos to you for the very correct attitude against snaps, which are the most egregious attitude Canonical has taken in the last years. I am still using Ubuntu due to inertia and widespread support, but really, decisions like that with the closed Snap Server and enforcing snaps make me afraid of Canonical growing more and getting more leverage to behave like Apple does.


Last edited by Patola on 3 June 2020 at 9:51 am UTC
Linas 3 Jun
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Did Mint retire their Debian version? No forced Snaps or Flatpaks there. They are available, if you want them, but it's your choice.


Last edited by Linas on 3 June 2020 at 9:40 am UTC
fagnerln 3 Jun
I understand the problem with Snap, but I really don't like the way that mint are working. An empty package is a silly idea, they should ask if the user cares about using snap or not and do the job.

It's funny they complaining about the ubuntu's base as LMDE evolves slowly.

Manjaro looks like have a good support to Snap, letting the user choose easily
Linas 3 Jun
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fagnerlnI understand the problem with Snap, but I really don't like the way that mint are working. An empty package is a silly idea, they should ask if the user cares about using snap or not and do the job.
It's an empty package in Ubuntu. Mint are opposing this.
GBee 3 Jun
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Maybe I need more coffee, but I've no clue what "Snaps are more locked-down as they compared it to using proprietary software, it pushes Ubuntu directly and Snaps are done in the background." means?

Perhaps I should read the original for elucidation. The above explanation has severely confused me :(


Last edited by GBee on 3 June 2020 at 9:56 am UTC
CatKiller 3 Jun
GBeeMaybe I need more coffee, but I've no clue what "Snaps are more locked-down as they compared it to using proprietary software, it pushes Ubuntu directly and Snaps are done in the background." means?

Perhaps I should read the original for elucidation. The above explanation has severely confused me :(

It's Liam's summary of Mint's position, but it's hard to make it clear because Mint's position is just argle bargle.

In Ubuntu chromium is distributed (by default - you can still use a PPA) as a snap, for the reasons Liam linked to. Snaps have a central repository that Canonical pays for and maintains, for the reasons listed in the video I linked to, but other developers can put their stuff on there (other developers putting their stuff on there is kinda the point).

These things have made the Mint people Very Angry.

There are issues with snaps, but they aren't the ones that people get Very Angry about.


Last edited by CatKiller on 3 June 2020 at 10:11 am UTC
g000h 3 Jun
Well, it's a good result as far as I'm concerned. Not a fan of alternative packaging systems. I just like to use the main one for the operating system, i.e. APT for Debian (and Debian clones) and RPM for Redhat (and clones).

Looking further into Snap myself, I notice that it adopts an update schedule very similar to Windows 10, i.e. Preventing the end-user from halting updates if they want to do so. Also Snaps introduce a bunch of file system mounts i.e. one extra mount point for each Snap which is active. No need to complain that you can turn this stuff off or hide it if you want to - My point about these two aspects is that it is the default behaviour and it is fiddly to deactivate.
KaDargo 3 Jun
CatKiller
GBeeMaybe I need more coffee, but I've no clue what "Snaps are more locked-down as they compared it to using proprietary software, it pushes Ubuntu directly and Snaps are done in the background." means?

Perhaps I should read the original for elucidation. The above explanation has severely confused me :(

It's Liam's summary of Mint's position, but it's hard to make it clear because Mint's position is just argle bargle.

In Ubuntu chromium is distributed (by default - you can still use a PPA) as a snap, for the reasons Liam linked to. Snaps have a central repository that Canonical pays for and maintains, for the reasons listed in the video I linked to, but other developers can put their stuff on there.

These things have made the Mint people Very Angry.

There are issues with snaps, but they aren't the ones that people get Very Angry about.

What made them very angry is Canonical stealthily forcing people to use snaps even when they think they're installing something different (the case with Chromium), that snaps are completely centralized and under Canonical's control and no one can see or change what or when they update, that in most cases the snap packages aren't even made by the developers of the applications but by third parties and sometimes it's not even entirely clear if they are Canonical employees or not, and also that you're allowing a third party to have total access to your system even if you're using them from Mint, Fedora, Manjaro... they're a big security risk. There's so much wrong about how snaps work that I can't even begin to understand how anyone in the Linux community would want to use them.
Dedale 3 Jun
My main gripe with snap was when it installed chromium on my Kubuntu 19.10 it was slower to start. Even with a SSD.

Also i do not get The point of snaps and flatpacks for open-source software well integrated in the distro. They are maybe less up-to-date but they take less disk space. For commercial software that is compiled once and not updated i understand better.

But i confess my knowledge of such things is lacking.


Last edited by Dedale on 3 June 2020 at 10:24 am UTC
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