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A Beginners Guide to Snaps in Linux
If you're new to Linux, you may have heard term "snap" being used, but may not be sure exactly what it is. In simple terms, snaps are a type of universal package format for Linux systems that make it easy to install and manage applications. In this beginner's guide, we'll take a closer look at what snaps are, how to use them, and why they're important.
What are Snaps?
Snaps are a type of package format that make it easier to install and manage applications on Linux systems. They were created by Canonical, company behind Ubuntu, but are now supported by many other Linux distributions including Debian, Fedora, and OpenSUSE. Snaps work by bundling application along with all its dependencies into a single, self-contained package. This means that you don't have to worry about installing any additional libraries or software to get app up and running.
Snaps are also designed to be portable, meaning that they can be installed on any Linux distribution that supports snap format. This is particularly useful for developers who want to distribute their applications to users on multiple Linux distributions without having to create separate packages for each one.
How to Install Snaps
To use snaps, you first need to make sure that your Linux distribution supports them. Most modern distributions do, but if you're not sure, you can check Snapcraft website for a list of supported distributions. Once you've confirmed that snaps are supported, you can install snapd package which is core service that manages snaps.
On Ubuntu and other Debian-based distributions, you can install snapd by running following command −
sudo apt install snapd
On Fedora, you can install snapd by running following command −
sudo dnf install snapd
Once snapd is installed, you can start installing snaps. easiest way to do this is by using Snap Store, which is a graphical interface for discovering and installing snaps. You can find Snap Store in applications menu on most Linux distributions that support snaps.
Alternatively, you can install snaps from command line using snap command. For example, to install Chromium web browser, you can run following command −
sudo snap install chromium
This will download and install latest version of Chromium along with all its dependencies. Once installation is complete, you can launch application like any other application on your system.
One of benefits of using snaps is that they are self-contained, which means that they can be easily managed using snap command. Here are some common snap commands that you can use to manage your snaps −
snap list − Displays a list of all installed snaps
snap find − Searches for snaps in Snap Store
snap info − Displays detailed information about a specific snap
snap refresh − Updates all installed snaps to latest version
snap remove − Uninstalls a snap from your system
For example, to update all installed snaps, you can run following command −
sudo snap refresh
This will download and install latest version of each snap on your system.
Why Use Snaps?
So, why should you use snaps? Here are a few reasons −
Snaps make it easy to install applications without having to worry about dependencies or compatibility issues.
Snaps can be installed on any Linux distribution that supports snap format, which makes it easy for developers to distribute their applications to a wide audience.
Snaps are sandboxed, which means that they are isolated from rest of system. This makes them more secure and less prone to vulnerabilities.
Snaps are designed to always be up-to-date. snapd service automatically checks for updates and installs them in background, so you always have latest version of application.
Snaps support rolling back to a previous version of application if there are any issues with latest version. This can be particularly useful for developers who want to test their applications on different versions of software stack.
Snaps can support multiple versions of same application, which can be useful for testing or for users who need to use an older version of an application for compatibility reasons.
Since snaps are self-contained, uninstalling them is as simple as running snap remove command. This makes it easy to clean up your system and remove any applications that you no longer need.
Snap vs. Package Managers
Snaps are just one of many package formats available on Linux. Another popular package format is traditional package manager system, which is used by most Linux distributions. main difference between snaps and traditional package managers is level of isolation they provide.
Traditional package managers install software system-wide, which means that software shares resources with other applications on system. This can sometimes lead to compatibility issues and can make it harder to manage dependencies. Snaps, on other hand, are self-contained and isolated from rest of system. This makes them more secure and less prone to issues related to dependencies.
However, traditional package managers have been around for a long time and have a vast library of applications that have been tested and optimized for specific Linux distribution. Snaps are a relatively new technology, and while they are gaining popularity, not all applications are available as snaps yet.
Snaps are also beneficial for developers. When developing software, it is important to test software on different Linux distributions to ensure compatibility. However, creating separate packages for each distribution can be time-consuming and challenging. Snaps offer a solution to this problem by providing a universal package format that can be installed on any Linux distribution. This allows developers to focus on developing their software instead of worrying about packaging and distribution.
Snaps also provide an excellent solution for users who want to try out new applications or software without affecting their system. Since snaps are self-contained and isolated, they can be easily installed and removed without affecting rest of system. This is particularly useful for users who want to test software or experiment with new applications without risk of breaking their system.
Snaps can also be used for IoT (Internet of Things) devices. IoT devices often have limited resources and require software that is specifically designed to work with them. Snaps offer a solution to this problem by providing a way to package and distribute software that is optimized for IoT devices. This allows developers to easily create software for IoT devices and distribute it to a wide audience.
In addition to Snap Store, there are also other third-party stores that offer snaps. For example, Flathub store provides a large selection of flatpaks (another package format) and snaps for Linux users. However, it is important to note that not all snaps are created equal. While snaps are generally secure, it is important to only install snaps from trusted sources and to verify publisher of snap before installing it.
Overall, snaps are a powerful and flexible way to install and manage software on Linux systems. Whether you are a developer looking to distribute software or a user looking to experiment with new applications, snaps offer a simple and secure solution. While traditional package managers are still most popular method of installing software on Linux, snaps offer several advantages that make them a compelling alternative.
In conclusion, snaps are a convenient and secure way to install and manage applications on Linux systems. They offer easy installation, portability, security, and up-to-date software. Snaps can be managed using snap command, which provides a simple interface for installing, updating, and removing applications. While snaps are not only package format available on Linux, they offer several benefits over traditional package managers and are becoming increasingly popular among developers and Linux users.
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