Today, June 14, 2016, Canonical informed us that they’ve been working for some time with developers from various major GNU/Linux distributions to make the Snap package format universal for all OSes.
As many of you who are using Ubuntu might know already, Snap is a secure, easy to install, and confined package format that lets developers distribute the latest versions of their software applications as soon as they’re out. For Ubuntu, it is an alternative packaging format for Debian’s .deb binary packages.
Snap is an innovation from Canonical created specifically for the Snappy technology used in Snappy Ubuntu Core, a slimmed-down version of Ubuntu designed from the ground up to be deployed on various embedded and IoT (Internet of Things) devices. Starting with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), Canonical launched the Snap packages for the desktop and server too.
“Developers from multiple Linux distributions and companies today announced collaboration on the “snap” universal Linux package format, enabling a single binary package to work perfectly and securely on any Linux desktop, server, cloud or device,” said Canonical. “This community is working at snapcraft.io to provide a single publication mechanism for any software in any Linux environment.”
Snaps already work natively on Arch Linux, Debian, Fedora, and Ubuntu
At the moment, we’re being informed that the Snap package format is working natively on popular GNU/Linux operating systems like Arch Linux, Fedora, Debian GNU/Linux, OpenWrt, as well as Ubuntu and its official flavors, including Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu GNOME, Ubuntu Kylin, and Lubuntu.
Shortly after today’s announcement, other major GNU/Linux distributions will adopt the Snap package as a universal binary format for their users. Among these, we can mention openSUSE, Linux Mint, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, and elementary OS. Of course, any other distros not mentioned here can also adopt the Snap format easily.
Canonical already demonstrated that it is easy for application developers to package their apps in the Snap format, so now it will be a lot more easy to distribute it on any major Linux kernel-based operating system out there, greatly simplifying the distribution of third-party Linux software.
Of course, Snaps will not replace the default package format used by the respective operating systems. They are available only to complement them, to make the distribution of certain open-source or closed-source applications available in the Snap format for all GNU/Linux operating system who will adopt it.
Popular software like Mozilla Firefox, LibreOffice and Krita are already being in the process of becoming Snap packages. “With the introduction of Snaps, continually optimizing Firefox will become possible, providing Linux users the most up-to-date features,” said Nick Nguyen, Vice President of Product, Firefox at Mozilla.
Krita 3.0 digital painting tool was launched earlier this month as a Snap package, which Ubuntu users can install on their operating systems. “Maintaining .deb packages in a private repository was complex and time consuming, Snaps are much easier to maintain, package and distribute” said Boudewijn Rempt, project lead at the Krita Foundation.
If you are an application developer who wants to distribute his project as a Snap package for any GNU/Linux operating system who supports Snaps, you’re invited to visit the snapcraft.io website. Also, don’t hesitate to take a look at the press release below for any other information regarding Snaps as a universal binary format.