May 24, 2024

Immutability and snaps are two of essentially the most controversial components within the Linux group, however Ubuntu could obtain a successful method by combining each.

Snap is Ubuntu’s containerized bundle format that, not like native packages, accommodates all the mandatory dependencies inside the app container. This permits long-term assist distros, like Ubuntu LTS, to nonetheless have the newest and best purposes. Snaps can be safer than conventional packages for the reason that apps are sandboxed.

An immutable distro is one the place the basis file system is immutable, and the varied apps are put in through snaps and Flatpaks. That’s to not say it’s not possible to put in a local app, nevertheless it takes further steps in comparison with a standard distro. Since snaps and Flatpaks are self-contained and don’t impression the underlying system, they’re completely suited to immutable distros.

Immutable distros have the benefit of being extra secure and safe since nothing can simply change the underlying system.

The Benefit of Snaps

One of many most important benefits of snaps is that they aren’t restricted to desktop apps. The Linux kernel, terminal apps, drivers, desktop apps, and extra can all be packaged as snaps, not like the competing Flatpaks, that are solely suited to desktop apps.

This single benefit makes snaps an interesting choice for an immutable distro because it solves one of many largest points with ones that depend on Flatpaks. As a result of Flatpak solely covers desktop apps, customers nonetheless need to depend on native apps. Because of this, immutable distros that primarily use Flatpaks drive customers to depend on a mixture of Flatpaks and native apps, and sometimes Distrobox, or Podman and Docker containers.

In distinction, a snap-powered immutable Ubuntu considerably simplifies the method for customers by giving them a single format to fret about, one that’s used for each a part of the system.

An Immutable Snap-Based mostly Distro Is Precisely What Linux Wants

There’s little doubt that snaps will not be as widespread as Flatpaks, primarily for 2 causes:

  • Snapcraft, the central snap retailer, is a centralized retailer managed by Canonical. This makes many open-source advocates uncomfortable. By no means thoughts that snaps are nonetheless open supply, the truth that the maker of Ubuntu controls the backend retailer is sufficient to flip some folks off.
  • Snaps have historically not carried out in addition to native apps or Flatpaks, particularly on the primary run. This problem has been largely solved and would additionally seemingly be mitigated by your complete system operating as snaps.
  • Customers additionally disagree with Ubuntu’s choice to put in a snap as an alternative of a local app in some instances, even when the consumer is explicitly attempting to put in a local model.

I personally have by no means been a giant fan of snaps, primarily for the explanations listed above. Regardless of these disadvantages, a snap-based immutable Ubuntu might very properly be the subsequent massive factor that makes it straightforward for Mac and Home windows customers emigrate over.

Having a particularly secure, safe system, mixed with a self-contained packaging format that gives the newest and best packages, might be the important thing to creating Linux approachable to a complete new era of customers. I definitely can be prepared to provide snap one other likelihood in that context.

Ubuntu helped revolutionize Linux when it first appeared on the scene, and I imagine it can accomplish that once more when its snap-based immutable model is launched subsequent yr.