Mint, Snaps - Correcting some incorrect assumptions

Some background info:


https://blog.linuxmint.com/?p=3906

Trying to get my head around this debacle. This is copied from another discussion I was having elsewhere. I was addressing certain issues that were raised. Happy to stand corrected on any of this:

Mint is a great distro and I will still continue to recommend and install it (I currently manage 9 mint installs). I do have an issue with how Clem dealt with this though. The wording of “backdoor” has certain implications of malware that to me is unfair. I don’t use many snaps, but I have in the past and if the criticism that they are bloated (compared to traditional packages) and slow to load, that is fair. However to call them a “backdoor” in his blog post just rubs me completely wrong way, especially since Mint’s (mostly) entire existence depends on Ubuntu. Why doesn’t Mint just move to Debian base if the trust of Ubuntu is not there? I think recognising the work that is required to maintain newer versions of packages, such as that done by Ubuntu, is a big factor that is still preventing them from doing so. Yes, they could base on Debian Testing, but of course that risks things breaking unless they do a lot more maintenance work themselves.

My understanding of snaps is rudimentary, but they do help with problems of dependency versioning and incompatibility. As someone who has experienced dependency hell (thanks to Serge’s challenges), I can understand how some packages can be way more difficult to maintain than others. Snaps can be set to build with certain versions of dependencies, thereby ensuring compatibility. Of course, so can Flatpaks and Appimages. Is this a duplication of effort? Probably, but that is the subject of another discussion.

To further clarify, there is nothing about snaps that run on your personal system that is proprietary. You can view the build source files from any snap (including the snapd daemon!). Only the snap-store server that runs on Ubuntu’s side is proprietary. That will never run on your computer. All the snap packages you can download and run are open source and you can see exactly how it’s built. Example here is the build file for chromium-browser
https://git.launchpad.net/~chromium-team/chromium-browser/+git/snap-from-source/tree/snapcraft.yaml?h=stable&id=e4ee1e76225fdb36f1e46edaae19fe50014d0be0

Here’s the snapd git

Do I prefer that the snap-store server be open source? Yes I do, but that does not justify the calling of the installation of snapd or chromium-browser a “backdoor”. They are completely separate things.

Furthermore, to Clem’s point about “Applications in this store cannot be patched, or pinned. You can’t audit them, hold them, modify them or even point snap to a different store.” -
Thanks to Popey, I now know that not only can you hold snap packages, but Mint could have simply made Mint-specific snaps they they’ve patched/modified.

Happy to be corrected on any of this!! :smiley:

2 Likes

That would be great. They could call it “Linux Mint Debian Edition”. :smiley:

The Mint team should be able to do whatever they want with Mint even if people at Ubuntu don’t like it. If Mint did everything the Ubuntu way Mint wouldn’t have a reason to exist. The same goes for Ubuntu. If they had to do everything the Debian way Ubuntu wouldn’t have a reason to exist.

It’s fair for people at Ubuntu to criticize Clem for the wording of his post. It is not fair for them to criticize Mint for choosing to disable Snaps. Mint can do whatever they want without Ubuntu’s approval, even if it’s wrong.

I think if they were to make the switch to Debian they would have to stop using Ubuntu with a LTS release and just maintain whatever the release it is and leave it at that. If they want point releases then let them have point releases but let people know that the end is near (stand on a street corner holding a sign).

As for Debian they need to make it easier to get the kernel version up to 5.4 instead of 4.19 that Buster runs, like a script in the welcome screen. This would help them with support to newer hardware that might not be covered in the world of Buster. I can handle backports but I’m sure there’s quite a few using Linux Mint that don’t like using terminal.

That makes perfect sense to me Ken. I was particularly responding to people painting with a broad brush that snaps were proprietary and that Ubuntu never responded to Mint’s issue with snaps.