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

  1. #21
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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
    …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.
    Snaps are maintained by their developers, not by the Canonical Ubuntu team. As already noted, this is a double-edged sword. If the developer is diligent and conscientious, the app will be more current and more secure than the traditional methodology of relying on the distro maintainers. If the developer stops maintaining the app, then it will be orphaned with all the downsides that come with such offloading.

    Frankly, this was a predictable outcome. For a similar evolution, we have only to look at the Launchpad PPA experience: it too is filled with some PPAs that offer the most current versions of the most popular apps, and it is also filled with piles of dead PPAs that have gone unmaintained for years. Another double-edged sword. The difference is that PPAs rely on system libraries shared by your base install and if they required an older or newer library, they wouldn't function. They also sometimes broke dpkg and created dependency hell. Not least, they are notoriously insecure because they are installed with no sandboxing. Speaking personally, I would never install a PPA unless it is constrained within a VM or container of some kind.

    Snaps have a high potential to be orphaned. But then, so does every app in the Linux-sphere (consider the once‑great Amarok), so I suppose that everything needs to be assessed with realistic expectations.

  2. #22
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    Re: What's the rationale that Ubuntu now wants to install everything in a snap packag

    I think what people aren't acknowledging is that you CAN have your own snap store with your own version control and snap management. You can also confine snaps differently. The control isn't totally gone, but you are given a default configuration via Ubuntu, which should work for the normal users.

  3. #23
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    Re: What's the rationale that Ubuntu now wants to install everything in a snap packag

    Quote Originally Posted by EuclideanCoffee View Post
    I think what people aren't acknowledging is that you CAN have your own snap store with your own version control and snap management. You can also confine snaps differently. The control isn't totally gone, but you are given a default configuration via Ubuntu, which should work for the normal users.
    Not to be argumentative, but the essential truth of this observation is mitigated by the following:

    1. Spinning up our own snap is not remotely a trivial exercise. As a parallel, it has been possible to spin up our own PPAs for years. Almost no end users do so. The processes in both cases are impossibly technical for the average user and so this capability remains in the realm of the theoretically possible but the pragmatically impossible. Most of us have to resign ourselves to making do with what others so graciously provide.
    2. While the snap client side is FOSS, the server side is not. This is a serious concern to many of us.
    3. Speaking only personally, I have always had misgivings about Canonical's penchant to go off on tangents. Unity proved to be a dead end. So did Upstart. At best, they were noble but doomed experiments. At worst, they were distracting, wasted resources and fragmented Linux community effort.
    4. They are an invitation to peremptory and silly decisions—snaps for the sake of snaps. Example: I only found out a few days ago that, from 19.04 to 19.10, the simple and default calculator applet had been made a snap, only to come back to the sanity of being a basic repo app in 20.04.

    As stated, I'm not trying to be argumentative. I have a number of snaps installed on all of my machines and enjoy the currency of those apps versus the frustration of living with the version rot to which I had resigned myself in the past. But the concerns won't disappear through the offering of convenience and currency alone. I hope to see Canonical responding positively to these concerns in the next few months. Otherwise, I predict that Snapcraft will join Unity and Upstart as footnotes in the Linux story.

  4. #24
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    Re: What's the rationale that Ubuntu now wants to install everything in a snap packag

    Actually it is open source.

    https://ubuntu.com/blog/howto-host-your-own-snap-store

    The problem is that it’s still yet too new and unproven. Just as I mastered Debian packaging and repository hosting, now I have to learn this. 🤪

  5. #25
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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 maintained by their developers, not by the Canonical Ubuntu team. As already noted, this is a double-edged sword. If the developer is diligent and conscientious, the app will be more current and more secure than the traditional methodology of relying on the distro maintainers. If the developer stops maintaining the app, then it will be orphaned with all the downsides that come with such offloading.

    Frankly, this was a predictable outcome. For a similar evolution, we have only to look at the Launchpad PPA experience: it too is filled with some PPAs that offer the most current versions of the most popular apps, and it is also filled with piles of dead PPAs that have gone unmaintained for years. Another double-edged sword. The difference is that PPAs rely on system libraries shared by your base install and if they required an older or newer library, they wouldn't function. They also sometimes broke dpkg and created dependency hell. Not least, they are notoriously insecure because they are installed with no sandboxing. Speaking personally, I would never install a PPA unless it is constrained within a VM or container of some kind.

    Snaps have a high potential to be orphaned. But then, so does every app in the Linux-sphere (consider the once‑great Amarok), so I suppose that everything needs to be assessed with realistic expectations.
    But if a software developer orphans an app, isn't it simply orphaned everywhere (i.e. it will not be updated in the official repository of any of the distros as well, right?)

    I thought (and I may be wrong here) that the issue was that some snaps appear to be packaged up by third parties. With the official distro repository I trust the maintainers. With a snap created by the original software developer, I also tend to trust them (with doing a tiny bit of due diligence - I don't simply trust ANY developer). But if there are snaps that are simply put together by an un-vetted third party and put up on the snap store - I get nervous. Again, I am new to snaps and not 100% sure I understand all of the nuances (correction: I am 100% sure I am not even close to understanding all of the nuances), but I think I have certainly seen snaps that are not maintained by the original developer - and to top it off, there does not seem to be any way to tell for sure who actually supplied the snap.

    And that was what I thought you were referring to when you said snaps get orphaned. I thought a software project may still be going strong, but whoever was repackaging it as a snap stopped keeping up.

  6. #26
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    Re: What's the rationale that Ubuntu now wants to install everything in a snap packag

    Quote Originally Posted by EuclideanCoffee View Post
    Actually it is open source…
    I thought the Snap Store is closed source. Does this Wikipedia article have it wrong? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snap_(package_manager)

    I was also under the impression that contributors to the snap store had to sign this CLA.

    Perhaps my info is outdated.

  7. #27
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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
    But if a software developer orphans an app, isn't it simply orphaned everywhere (i.e. it will not be updated in the official repository of any of the distros as well, right?)
    No. The two are not necessarily connected. See below.
    I thought (and I may be wrong here) that the issue was that some snaps appear to be packaged up by third parties. With the official distro repository I trust the maintainers. With a snap created by the original software developer, I also tend to trust them (with doing a tiny bit of due diligence - I don't simply trust ANY developer). But if there are snaps that are simply put together by an un-vetted third party and put up on the snap store - I get nervous. Again, I am new to snaps and not 100% sure I understand all of the nuances (correction: I am 100% sure I am not even close to understanding all of the nuances), but I think I have certainly seen snaps that are not maintained by the original developer - and to top it off, there does not seem to be any way to tell for sure who actually supplied the snap.

    And that was what I thought you were referring to when you said snaps get orphaned. I thought a software project may still be going strong, but whoever was repackaging it as a snap stopped keeping up.
    Your general thrust is correct:

    1. Even a project that is still going strong has no obligation to keep snaps properly updated. The LibreOffice devs could, for example, decide that snap maintenance is just not worth their while and "abandon" it. This would be a severe case and so high-profile that Canonical would likely do something about it, but a little-known app could very well get orphaned with no one bothering to deal with it.
    2. To my knowledge, so long as they don't violate any licenses, snaps can be packaged by third-parties, though I cannot attest to this as fact.
    3. A snap could be offered by one member of a development team who then has a falling out with the other devs, which leads to its abandonment.
    4. An app doesn't have to actually be orphaned to cause trouble. The devs could mistakenly upload a buggy version or an unstable one. The ability to keep snaps more current cuts both ways. By divorcing snaps from the traditional repository vetting process, the distro maintainers pass on those responsibilities to outside parties. Passing on responsibilities also mean passing on control.

    These sorts of desynchronisations happen all the time. They are a hazard of the trade. On Android, I frequently get more current apps in FDroid than those on the Google App store, and vice versa. As another parallel, there are tons of abandoned apps in FDroid that haven't been touched in years.

  8. #28
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    Re: What's the rationale that Ubuntu now wants to install everything in a snap packag

    I’m so confused. I guess it is closed source. I will have to build the server and get back to you. Here’s a little rant from Ubuntu in why we should be grateful for them to not release the source for snaps. Annoying.

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.red...e_open_source/

    Update.

    https://github.com/noise/snapstore

    Yep. This is garbage. Canonical should pull the earlier article. I'll complain.

    Update II.

    Looks like you can create a snap store yourself, but it requires someone to actively develop something.

    https://dashboard.snapcraft.io/docs/v2/en/index.html
    Last edited by EuclideanCoffee; 3 Weeks Ago at 02:54 PM.

  9. #29
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    Re: What's the rationale that Ubuntu now wants to install everything in a snap packag

    Quote Originally Posted by kevdog View Post
    I'm aware Ubuntu's been trending toward installing everything in the form of snap packages.
    What's behind this philosophy?
    When I upgraded from 17.10 to 20.04 recently, I started hearing about snaps, and so I went Googling and ended up on a chat site (now I lost it) where there was an argument that purported to be be between two Canonical employees. My impression from that argument is that snaps have less to do with any technical issues per se (such as security or testing) than with making Ubuntu able to capture larger share of the OS market--by making more programs available but mostly by decreasing the amount of knowledge users have to have about "what's under the hood" in order to use Ubuntu.

  10. #30
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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
    No. The two are not necessarily connected. See below.

    Your general thrust is correct:

    1. Even a project that is still going strong has no obligation to keep snaps properly updated. The LibreOffice devs could, for example, decide that snap maintenance is just not worth their while and "abandon" it. This would be a severe case and so high-profile that Canonical would likely do something about it, but a little-known app could very well get orphaned with no one bothering to deal with it.
    2. To my knowledge, so long as they don't violate any licenses, snaps can be packaged by third-parties, though I cannot attest to this as fact.
    3. A snap could be offered by one member of a development team who then has a falling out with the other devs, which leads to its abandonment.
    4. An app doesn't have to actually be orphaned to cause trouble. The devs could mistakenly upload a buggy version or an unstable one. The ability to keep snaps more current cuts both ways. By divorcing snaps from the traditional repository vetting process, the distro maintainers pass on those responsibilities to outside parties. Passing on responsibilities also mean passing on control.

    These sorts of desynchronisations happen all the time. They are a hazard of the trade. On Android, I frequently get more current apps in FDroid than those on the Google App store, and vice versa. As another parallel, there are tons of abandoned apps in FDroid that haven't been touched in years.
    Ah. I see. That makes a lot of sense. Thanks.

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