Snappy (package manager)

Snappy is a software deployment and package management system developed by Canonical for the Linux operating system. The packages, called snaps, and the tool for using them, snapd, work across a range of Linux distributions allowing distribution-agnostic upstream software packaging. Snappy was originally designed for Ubuntu Touch. The system is designed to work for internet of things, cloud and desktop computing.[2]

Developer(s)Canonical Ltd.
Initial release9 December 2014 (2014-12-09)[1]
Stable release
2.42 / 9 October 2019 (2019-10-09)
Written inGo, C
Operating systemLinux
LicenseGPLv3 (client), proprietary (server)


Snap application packages of software are self-contained and work across a range of Linux distributions. This is unlike traditional Linux package management approaches, like APT or YUM, which require specifically adapted packages for each Linux distribution therefore adding delay between application development and its deployment for end-users.[3][4]

Snaps themselves have no dependency on any "app store", can be obtained from any source and can be therefore used for upstream software deployment. When snaps are deployed on Ubuntu and other versions of Linux, the snap store[5] is used as the back-end.

Snaps introduces channels which define which release of a snap is installed and tracked for updates. [6]

Developers can use snaps to create command line tools and background services as well as desktop applications.[7] With snap applications, upgrades via atomic operation or by deltas are possible.[1][8][9][10]

In June 2016, snapd was ported to a wide range of Linux distributions to enable snaps to be used across any Linux distribution, not just the all-snap Ubuntu Core. snapd is also available or in progress for Arch Linux, CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Solus, Manjaro Linux, Linux Mint, OpenEmbedded, Raspbian, OpenWrt and openSUSE.

Each distribution is able to interpret the snap metadata to implement the security or other expectations of the snap in a distribution-specific fashion.


Developer(s)Canonical Ltd.
Initial release29 October 2015 (2015-10-29)[1]
Stable release
3.7.2 / 13 August 2019 (2019-08-13)
Written inPython
Operating systemLinux

Snapcraft is a tool for developers to package their programs in the Snap format for Snappy.[11]

.snap file format

The snap file format is a single compressed filesystem (based on squashfs format) that is mounted dynamically by the host operating system, together with declarative metadata that is interpreted by the snap system to set up an appropriately shaped secure sandbox or container for that application. The file format extension is .snap.


Snappy packaging has been deployed in internet of things environments, ranging from consumer-facing products[12] to enterprise device management gateways.[13] Snappy is included by default in Ubuntu desktop images from version 16.04 onwards. Software from Microsoft, i.e. .NET Core 3.1, for Linux is also distributed in the snap format.[14] Snapcraft itself also plans to support Windows OS itself (and macOS is already supported).[15]


The developer of the screen capture tool Peek discontinued support for Snap packages in March 2018,[16][17] while continuing support for Flatpak and AppImage, stating that

  • Snap is "still mainly an Ubuntu show", criticizing the fact that snapd is no longer available in the official Arch Linux repository, even though it is available in the community repository of Arch Linux based distribution, Manjaro, and can be installed via pacman or Manjaro's GUI pamac.[18]
  • Using snap is more time-consuming than Flatpak or AppImage for developers,
  • Ubuntu Software Center doesn't take advantage of AppStream data, requiring separate entry data.

Developers and IT systems administrators have voiced complaints that snap is highly unsuitable for mission-critical applications since auto-updates cannot be turned off. This basic feature missing is a design choice of the snap developers, but has led to unexpected downtime when services restart or when buggy software enters the snap distribution system.[19]

Red Hat employee Adam Williamson, while acknowledging his own bias, has criticized snap for keeping the server side closed source,[20] not having a mechanism for using third party servers,[21] and having to sign a contributor license agreement to contribute to its development.[22]

A Linux Mint developer has claimed that snap is biased and has a conflict of interest, reasons cited include it being governed by Canonical and locked to their store, and also that snap works better on Ubuntu than on other distributions.[23]

See also


  1. Shuttleworth, Mark (9 December 2014). "Announcing Ubuntu Core, with snappy transactional updates!".
  2. "Snapcraft - Snaps are universal Linux packages". Snapcraft.
  3. Upgrading packaged Ubuntu application unreasonably involves upgrading entire OS Bug #578045 on by John King (2010-05-10)
  4. Linus Torvalds on the problems of distro packaging Linus Torvalds on DebConf 2014
  7. "Canonical unveils 6th LTS release of Ubuntu with 16.04". Ubuntu Insights. Canonical Ltd. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  8. Willis, Nathan (28 January 2015). "Ubuntu Core and Snappy". Linux Weekly News. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  9. "Ubuntu Core". Ubuntu.
  10. Vaughan-Nichols, Steven J. "Ubuntu Snap takes charge of Linux desktop and IoT software distribution". ZDNet.
  11. Brodkin, Jon. "Adios apt and yum? Ubuntu's snap apps are coming to distros everywhere". Ars Technica. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  12. Vaughan-Nichols, Stephen J. (11 May 2015). "Ubuntu jumps into Internet of Things with Acer, GE, and Microsoft". ZDNet. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  13. Sherman, Jordana. "Snappy Core unlocks IoT value within the Dell Edge Gateway 5000 Series". Ubuntu Insights. Canonical Ltd. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  14. .NET Core 3.1.0 Preview 2, .NET Foundation, 2019-11-08, retrieved 2019-11-08
  15. "Release notes: Snapcraft 3.8 | Snapcraft documentation". Snapcraft. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  16. "Snap support for Peek screen recorder discontinued". Reddit. March 25, 2018. Retrieved May 12, 2018.
  17. "Peek Gif Screen Recorder Drops Support for Snap App". OMG! Ubuntu!. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  18. "Installing snap on Manjaro Linux". Snapcraft (Documentation for snaps: Universal Linux packages). Retrieved 2019-04-27.
  19. "Disabling automatic refresh for snap from store". Retrieved July 31, 2019.
  20. "Why Canonical views the Snap ecosystem as a compelling distribution-agnostic solution". techrepublic. Retrieved August 7, 2019. So, if we were to open source the Snap store, does that actually benefit us in any meaningful way? History shows that perhaps it doesn't. That's not to say that we may not open source in the future. We'll just have to see.
  21. "Snapd should support custom servers". Launchpad. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
  22. "On Snappy and Flatpak: business as usual in the Canonical propaganda department". Happyassassin. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
  23. "Monthly News – June 2019". Retrieved October 23, 2019.
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