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A technical comparison between the snap and the Flatpak formats

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Ubuntu

Since we’ve already discussed the snap layout and architecture in greater details in the previous weeks, let’s start with a quick overview of Flatpak. Much like snaps, Flatpak packages come with necessary components contained inside standalone archives, so they can be deployed and maintained with simplicity on a range of Linux distributions. Runtime and image components are bundled into a single file using the OCI format.

In general, Flatpak applications are built against runtimes, but they can also contain additional libraries inside their own bundles. A Linux system with the Flatpak binary (primary command) installed and configured can then run Flatpak applications. At the moment, there are 21 distributions that offer Flatpak support.

Furthermore, applications are sandboxed using Bubblewrap, which utilises kernel security and namespace features to set up unprivileged containers. Communication outside the sandbox is possible through a mechanism of portals, which allows granular access to system resources.

Flatpak packages are available to end users primarily through Flathub, an app store and build service that is (semi)-officially associated with the Flatpak project. Submissions to Flathub are done as pull requests through GitHub, and require approval from the store admins. Similarly, publishers of proprietary software have to manually request inclusion of their applications. Flatpak applications are also sometimes available as manual download links. There is no automatic update mechanism available by default.

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    Once upon a time, GNOME and KDE got along like cats and dogs. That was then. This is now. At Linux Application Summit (LAS) in Barcelona, the two, along with other desktop developers, came together to make the Linux desktop a friendlier place for all users. A big way developers will do that is by using Snap and Flatpak to deliver programs.

The long run of Linux desktop software shipping is Flatpak

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    The moment upon a time, GNOME and KDE bought along like cats and canines. That was then. This is now. At Linux Application Summit (LAS) in Barcelona, the two, along with other desktop builders, came jointly to make the Linux desktop a friendlier area for all end users. A significant way builders will do that is by making use of Snap and Flatpak to supply plans.

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