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Thread: What's the rationale that Ubuntu now wants to install everything in a snap package?

  1. #11
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    Re: What's the rationale that Ubuntu now wants to install everything in a snap packag

    I am just now starting with snaps. Prior to this I wound up "rolling my own" app management system (not package system) to be able to run multiple otherwise incompatible versions of apps on my Manjaro system.

    I very much look forward to the concept of apps being self contained. The number of library conflicts and missing versions that kept me spending all of my time managing app installs vs. doing real work was getting EXTREMELY irritating.

    Prior to snaps, my only experience with this kind of run anywhere packages in Linux was AppImage. It was amazing. I could have multiple versions of the same app on my system. The amount of time I spent managing these apps is measured in minutes vs. hours or more for other apps. Getting the latest version of an application was always immediate (sometimes fixing significant bugs in previous versions).

    Snaps, so far, have been a bit of a letdown. The biggest issues I have with them is that

    a) I can't seem to force multiple versions to co-exist at the same time. I have to look into the parallel branch option a bit more, but at first glance the auto-updating is going to be an issue for me. I like to have my apps updated - but with parallel versions so that I can revert back not just one version, but multiple - especially in cases where I don't use an app all that much and it may update 10 times between runs - meaning a single rollback is not adequate (assuming I understand this mechanism correctly).

    b) (and this is the deal breaker for me), I have to now "rewire" my entire network topology in order for my snap applications to "see" my files. The level of absurdity in this is something I find hard to believe. I have mounts that live outside of the few "blessed" mount points that are hard-coded into the snap system. This means that I cannot actually use the applications that I have installed via snap. I have, apparently, two options - either change the structure of my entire network (for every machine on the network including my linux boxes and MacOS machines) and rewrite a ton of python code that makes up my long running pipeline to keep a few snap applications happy, or forgo using snaps alltogether in favor of either AppImage (my preferred system, but it lacks the breadth of applications) or flatpak (something I am trying out now, but it suffers from some of the same deficiencies), or to go back to my own application management system.

    It seems that if these new package management systems are going to become the standard then they really have to figure out a way to handle the sandboxing in a way that actually allows end users to configure their machines in a way that isn't limited to what the snap team thinks works for them.

    Ok, I'm off to try to figure out how to poke a hole into the flatpak sandbox so I can actually do some work.

  2. #12
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    Re: What's the rationale that Ubuntu now wants to install everything in a snap packag

    On eOS the flatpack is supported by default. Tried it and left it. It takes too much time for the apps to start up.
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  3. #13
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    Re: What's the rationale that Ubuntu now wants to install everything in a snap packag

    Sometimes it depends on how the Snap package is maintained vs. the PPA.

    Take MakeMKV for example: The Snap package will not allow me to change the directory to where I want the MKV date to go. The PPA works perfectly.

    Is this a Snap problem? Or is this how the system manages the Snap that is the problem? No one seems to know.
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  4. #14
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    Re: What's the rationale that Ubuntu now wants to install everything in a snap packag

    Quote Originally Posted by Shibblet View Post
    Sometimes it depends on how the Snap package is maintained vs. the PPA.

    Take MakeMKV for example: The Snap package will not allow me to change the directory to where I want the MKV date to go. The PPA works perfectly.

    Is this a Snap problem? Or is this how the system manages the Snap that is the problem? No one seems to know.
    Snaps are supposed to be a form of sandboxing—along with its other "benefits"—so it won't allow you unfettered access to your whole directory tree unless the dev initially packaged it that way. Personally, I'm somewhat comforted by the fact that it has such sandboxing, though I acknowledge that it's sometimes a pain.

  5. #15
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    Re: What's the rationale that Ubuntu now wants to install everything in a snap packag

    Quote Originally Posted by DuckHook View Post
    Snaps are supposed to be a form of sandboxing—along with its other "benefits"—so it won't allow you unfettered access to your whole directory tree unless the dev initially packaged it that way. Personally, I'm somewhat comforted by the fact that it has such sandboxing, though I acknowledge that it's sometimes a pain.
    Yes that's a nice feature of snaps but can be annoying depending on your setup. For example I was trying Clementine (music player) as snap. It works but my music is not in ~/Music. Well it is there but as symlink to another directory outside ~. So it could not access my music unless I put the snap in development mode, but that defeats the purpose. But in general I agree it's a good thing. Especially since you can just a flip a switch (literally in the UI or through quite intuitive command) to disable access to all folders except those specific to the snap.
    "I believe humans get a lot done, not because we're smart, but because we have thumbs so we can make coffee." --Flash Rosenberg

  6. #16
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    Re: What's the rationale that Ubuntu now wants to install everything in a snap packag

    Quote Originally Posted by bvz View Post
    …It seems that if these new package management systems are going to become the standard then they really have to figure out a way to handle the sandboxing in a way that actually allows end users to configure their machines in a way that isn't limited to what the snap team thinks works for them.

    Ok, I'm off to try to figure out how to poke a hole into the flatpak sandbox so I can actually do some work.
    Consider the technique in the link in my sig: Sandboxing Apps with LXD

    It might meet some of your requirements, but be forewarned that it might create intractable problems of its own.

  7. #17
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    Re: What's the rationale that Ubuntu now wants to install everything in a snap packag

    I've warmed up to snaps, but I think the team tackling the problem are very ambitious. I foresee the platform either succeeding or failing before 22.04 LTS is released.

    God speed, snapd team.

  8. #18
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    Re: What's the rationale that Ubuntu now wants to install everything in a snap packag

    About 80% of snaps that I’ve installed don't work. They fail to run.

    When they install, the size is usually just under 1G for a 50MB program due to all the dependencies. We used to send people on travel using cheap chromebooks with 16G of storage and 2G of RAM running Ubuntu. With snaps, that idea is completely impossible. Storage gets full and running 2 apps uses all the RAM.

    The ones that do run, block access to our network storage and /tmp/. it is as though the people behind the design of snaps came from designing apps for single-user cell phones, not Unix workstations on a corporate network.

    What seems to happen is that snaps are created and forgotten by the snap package creators. Now we have another place to check for updates, but this time, there aren't any PPA versions, so Canonical holds the keys and sets the rules for what is and is not allowed. Surely, nothing bad could ever happen when only one company has the control.

  9. #19
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    Re: What's the rationale that Ubuntu now wants to install everything in a snap packag

    Quote Originally Posted by TheFu View Post
    About 80% of snaps that I’ve installed don't work. They fail to run.
    Not my experience, but then, I haven't installed that many.
    When they install, the size is usually just under 1G for a 50MB program due to all the dependencies. We used to send people on travel using cheap chromebooks with 16G of storage and 2G of RAM running Ubuntu. With snaps, that idea is completely impossible. Storage gets full and running 2 apps uses all the RAM.
    Agreed. Absurd bloat is one of its biggest drawbacks
    The ones that do run, block access to our network storage and /tmp/. it is as though the people behind the design of snaps came from designing apps for single-user cell phones, not Unix workstations on a corporate network.
    1. It takes time to fine-tune these things and,
    2. To some extent, this assessment of poor design is true

    What seems to happen is that snaps are created and forgotten by the snap package creators.
    This is very true and already happening. But this sword has two edges—the reverse is also true. I use Telegram. The repo version is multiple versions behind; the snap version is right up to date. Users forced to use Zoom can only download one with proven security holes from the repos, but will have the most current one with far better security through the snap store.
    Now we have another place to check for updates,
    Actually, the most irritating drawback here is that snaps will automatically update and there's no way to turn this automated behaviour off. As a guy who likes complete control of my system, this is a big drawback. It's almost a deal-breaker (but not quite).
    but this time, there aren't any PPA versions, so Canonical holds the keys and sets the rules for what is and is not allowed. Surely, nothing bad could ever happen when only one company has the control.
    ↑+1↑

    This may be my single biggest reservation about snaps. It's more than halfway to being a proprietary silo. If I wanted that, I would have gladly succumbed to the Apple siren a long time ago.

  10. #20
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    Re: What's the rationale that Ubuntu now wants to install everything in a snap packag

    Quote Originally Posted by TheFu View Post
    About 80% of snaps that I’ve installed don't work. They fail to run.

    When they install, the size is usually just under 1G for a 50MB program due to all the dependencies. We used to send people on travel using cheap chromebooks with 16G of storage and 2G of RAM running Ubuntu. With snaps, that idea is completely impossible. Storage gets full and running 2 apps uses all the RAM.

    The ones that do run, block access to our network storage and /tmp/. it is as though the people behind the design of snaps came from designing apps for single-user cell phones, not Unix workstations on a corporate network.

    What seems to happen is that snaps are created and forgotten by the snap package creators. Now we have another place to check for updates, but this time, there aren't any PPA versions, so Canonical holds the keys and sets the rules for what is and is not allowed. Surely, nothing bad could ever happen when only one company has the control.
    I am still very new to snaps and was excited to use them - only for that excitement to turn to disappointment when I realized I cannot actually open any of my files, or prevent automatic updates.

    Personally I don't care about the size of the snaps. For me the cost of additional SSD storage and RAM vs. the cost of managing conflicting packages is a completely easy tradeoff to make. That is just me though. No comments on your workflow - I fully understand your complaints.

    The fact that snaps are forgotten by the creators does not make much sense to me. Snaps should be maintained by the software developers. That was supposed to be one of the big advantages. No more waiting for a distro to update its repos to the latest release of an app. Is it an issue that the developer has not actually released the snap, but rather that a third party is maintaining the snap? That seems like it is a recipe for disaster. If snaps are going to work at all (and I am hopeful that they will - but they have a LONG way to go) then they are going to have to be both released by the original software authors AND not limited to a single snapcraft store - which isn't even properly curated it seems.

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