Snaps on Ubuntu 20.04: Everything You Want to Know!

Ubuntu 20.04 “Focal Fossa” is now officially available for installation. This new operating system Includes a new desktop theme and dark mode.

But on the inside, there is an updated Linux Kernal and a new method of installing applications.

snaps on ubuntu 20.04

In Ubuntu 20.04, the Software Centre is replaced by new Snap-based applications. And, we’ll explain what Snaps on Ubuntu 20.04 really means for you.

Let’s Get Started…

What is a Snap Package on Linux?

Snap is basically a snap command as well as a snap installation file. The Snap bundle includes an application with all its required dependencies into a single compressed file. These dependencies may vary from library files to web database servers or anything that may be required to run and launch the application.

Advantages

The major benefits of the Snaps are that you don’t have to search and manually install all the dependencies an application requires. This makes the installation process much simpler.

Sometimes, when you install an application and it doesn’t run because the required resources are not available or due to an outdated prerequisite, or its installation overwrites files required by existing applications.

Now with Snap, the installation files are compressed and are extracted at the time of installation. Also, its only at the time of installation that snaps are mounted to a Loop Device. This allows the file to be accessed by the system.

In Snap, the Installations proceed in a fenced manner, so that the file can’t interfere with the existing files on the system. Due to this, you can install multiple versions of the same application on a single system.

Disadvantages

The drawback of the snaps installation package is that its file size will be bigger than the normal Debian package manager (DEB) files. Also, they will use much more hard drive space.

Let us explain…

With Snaps, every application installs its own copy of the set of required resources and creates a mini-container to avoid interface with other applications on the system. This isn’t the most efficient way of Installing an application.

Also with Snaps, application loading time has increased which means slow application launches.

How to install Snap Store on Ubuntu 20.04?

Now, if you have freshly download and installed Ubuntu 20.04, the Snap Store will be a part of your system. But if you have upgraded to ubuntu 20.04 from any other version, then you have to manually install the Snap Store.

1. To Install Snap Store, open a new terminal, and enter the following command.

$ sudo snap install snap-store

2. Once the installation is complete, you can open the Snap store from the application menu or you can type the following command on the terminal window.

$ snap-store

You can also check the installed Snap Store version by using the following command.

$ snap version

snap version

How to install Snap Packages

Installing an application with a Snap package is really easy. Also, you can use the Snap command to search for applications and later install the desired one.

For example, we are going to install the gimp image editor. But first, let’s search it.

$ snap find gimp

snap installation on ubuntu

Now, the snap will find all the package name related to gimp and show us all the finding that matches with or related with the searched term.

To install the package of your need, use the value from the name column and type the following command

$ sudo snap install gimp

snap install gimp

The package will begin to download and a progress bar will be displayed from the left of the terminal window. When the installation is finished, a confirmation text will appear on the next line.

install gimp package ubuntu

Now, you can use the df command to check the disk space usage of the different file systems present on the computer. And if we use its output with pipe along with grep command and search for gimp, we get the disk usage of this specific application.

$ df | grep gimp

df grep command

This is showing that the snap package was mounted and the mounting location of the snap directory is- /snap/gimp/252. Here, 252 refers to the release number of this gimp version.

The file system listed here is: /dev/loop18. Loop Device files are used to make a block device to access regular files. Loop devices are used to mount file systems in disk images. In our case, it is mounting the SquashFS file system in a snap package. And the “18” here means this is the 18th /dev/loop device file on this computer.

Now, we’ll use the df command with the –t (type) option to limit the output to SquashFS file types only.

$ df -t squashfs

squashfs command

Now, the mounted SquashFS file will be listed on the terminal window, and it will show all the /dev/loop device files in use on this computer.

Each of the File System is mounted within the snap directory. And, this doesn’t show the different snap packages installed on this computer. These are the some which we have manually installed but there are some snap packages that are installed right out of the box.

To get the list of all the Snap packages, you can use the snap list command in the terminal window.

$ snap list

squashfs list

Here’s the full list:

Name                 Version                    Rev   Tracking  Publisher    Notes
core                 16-2.44.1                  8689  stable    canonical*   core
core18               20200124                   1668  stable    canonical*   base
gimp                 2.10.18                    252   stable    snapcrafters -
gnome-3-26-1604      3.26.0.20191114            98    stable/…  canonical*   -
gnome-3-28-1804      3.28.0-16-g27c9498.27c9498 116   stable    canonical*   -
gnome-calculator     3.34.1+git1.d34dc842       544   stable/…  canonical*   -
gnome-characters     v3.32.1+git3.b9120df       399   stable/…  canonical*   -
gnome-logs           3.34.0                     81    stable/…  canonical*   -
gnome-system-monitor 3.32.1-3-g0ea89b4922       127   stable/…  canonical*   -
gtk-common-themes    0.1-28-g1503258            1440  stable/…  canonical*   -

Now, you can see that only 10 snap packages are currently installed on this Linux computer. And these 10 snap packages have resulted in the 18 SquashFS file systems.

What do all these table columns mean?

  • Name: The name of the Installed Snap Package.
  • Version: The version number of the Installed Snap Package.
  • Rev: The revision number of the Installed Snap Package.
  • Tracking: This shows the snap channel and checks for updates.
    • Stable
    • Candidate
    • Beta
    • Edge
  • Publisher: The Name of the organization or the developer who published that snap package. If it is a verified publisher a green tick mark or an asterisk (*) will be shown beside publisher name.
  • Notes: Any other comments or additional information regarding the package.

Snap Channels on Ubuntu 20.04

As we know there are four types of Snap Channels and we can use the info command to get the description of the snap channel.

$ snap info gtk-common-themes

snap channel ubuntu

Now, we’ll see the package tracking and the versions of the snaps package in all of its four channels.

A snap package checks for the newer version of the software four times per day from the channel it is tracking. You can change the snap package track by using the refresh and channel options.

Type the following command in the terminal:

$ sudo snap refresh gtk-common-themes --channel=beta

snap channels beta

Now, if a newer version of the application was present, it will be installed. And also the tracking channel has been changed to beta. The beta package will be automatically downloaded and installed for this application as soon as the update is available.

However, you can also you the –list command to check for any updates present for your snap packages installed on your Linux computer.

Use the following command to do so,

$ sudo snap refresh --list

snap refresh list

This command will notify you about the newer versions of the snap packages currently installed.

You can also force a particular application to check for updates by the following command.

$ sudo snap refresh gtk-common-themes

snap refresh common

How to Remove a Snap Package?

Now, if you want to remove a specific package, you can use the remove command as shown below:

$ sudo snap remove gimp

remove snap package ubuntu 20.04

Also Read:

The Snap Guide Sheet for Ubuntu 20.04

Here is the list of Snap command which will help you with the Snap packages.

CommandDescription
snap find package_nameSearch for a package
sudo snap install package_nameInstall a package
snap listSee all installed packages
snap info package_nameGet information about a single package
sudo snap refresh package_name –channel=channel_nameChange the channel of a package
sudo snap refresh –listCheck for updates for any installed package
sudo snap refresh package_nameCheck for updates for any specific package
sudo snap remove package_nameUninstall a package

Should You use Snaps on your Linux Computer!

Now, If you don’t care about the type of application you’re using on your computer. Then, you can use snaps.

Also, there are quite some drawbacks to snaps which you should consider before making any decisions.

  • Snaps are Slower to load, especially on old computers.
  • Snap will use more hard drive space.
  • Snap gets updated automatically.
  • Snaps might not match with your installed theme.
  • Snaps are not always official packages.

If you have a modern and faster computer, then snap loading timing will not bother you at all. The main time sanction can be seen while installing the application. Also, due to the large size, they will take more time to download. But downloading and installing is a one day task, so should not matter much.

So, this was our Guide on Snaps on Ubuntu 20.04. If you have any problems related to this topic, then comment down below and we will get back to you.

One Comment

  1. They shot themselves in the foot. Ubuntu does not allow installations of repos. Even TBB can’t be in run by a simple download but only through the Snap. It tries to replicate Apple Store. This is not a new invention and it was used in Solus as Dicombobulating…. A lot of people are going to use VB, boxes, flatpak and docker until they get fed up with slow apps. Thumbs down from me!

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