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What Are Snaps? And How Are They Important?

Ubuntu Snaps
Written by Martins Jr. Okoi

With the upcoming release of Ubuntu 17.04 in April, names like Ubuntu Snaps and Unity 8 have frequently been mentioned. Most developers understand what the fuzz is about, but that’s probably not the case for Linux newbies.

So, today, we will briefly touch on what Snaps; are, how they are important, and whether to be excited about this new development or not.

What are Snaps?

Snaps are ultimately applications compressed together with their dependencies and descriptions of how to run and interact with other software on the system you installed it on.

They are mainly designed to be sandboxed and isolated from other system software, secure, and easily installable, upgradeable, degradable, and removable irrespective of its underlying system.

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Canonical is developing Snaps as the new packaging medium for Ubuntu’s Internet of Things devices and large container deployments referred to as Ubuntu Core.

Features of Snaps

Snaps features provide it a significant contribution to the Linux community as, to quote Canonical, they give developers the ability to

package any app for every Linux desktop, server, cloud or device, and deliver updates directly.

Below are highlights of why Snaps are excellent:

Affordability

Get up and running with Snaps free of charge and start building your apps right on Ubuntu Core.

  Ubuntu 16.04 is Official; Here's What's New

Portability

Snaps allow you to develop, package, install and update your apps on any Linux desktop, cloud, and server with one swoop.

No more searching for the ways to install the same apps on different Linux distros, especially since many other distros are validating the new tech.

Faster Installations and Upgrades

With Snaps installing and upgrading applications will be a breeze because all the dependencies are already present in the zip file so no more broken apps.

Support from Community

As is the case with Ubuntu, so it is with Snaps and Ubuntu Core. Know that you have the backing of a vast developer community to help you out whenever you get stuck as a developer or as a Linux enthusiast implementing Snaps.

How to Install Snap in Linux

In this section, I will show you to install Snap in Linux and how to use snap to install, update or remove packages.

Since Ubuntu 16.04, Snap is already pre-installed on the system, so we don’t need to install again. For other distribution, you can follow instructions as shown:

On Arch Linux

$ sudo yaourt -S snapd
$ sudo systemctl start snapd.socket

On Fedora

$ sudo dnf copr enable zyga/snapcore
$ sudo dnf install snapd
$ sudo systemctl enable --now snapd.service
$ sudo setenforce 0

Once snap has been installed and started, you can list all available packages in the snap store as shown.

$ snap find

To search for a particular package, just specify package name as show.

$ snap find package-name

To install a snap package, specifying the package by name.

$ sudo snap install package-name

To update an installed snap package, specifying the package by name.

$ sudo snap refresh package-name

To remove an installed snap package, run.

$ sudo snap remove package-name

To learn more about snap packages, go through the man pages or follow below links.

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Learn More about Snaps, Ubuntu Core, and Ubuntu IoT

You are welcome to find out more about Snaps by checking out the resources below:

I hope you have been able to get at least, a fundamental understanding of what Snaps are and why they are a big deal to the Linux community. Feel free to drop your comments below and to also make suggestions of information I might have left out.

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About the author

Martins Jr. Okoi

Martins Jr. (Dillivine) Okoi is a Computer Scientist, Web Developer and Programmer who has a passion for Linux and the Open Source community.