Ubuntu Snap – Uninstall Uninstall or Keep?

Snap is a package format that is largely programmed and supported by Ubuntu developer Canonical. However, it is viewed with mixed feelings in the Linux community. We’ll tell you here whether you should use snap packages or not.

What is snap

Snap is a package format for Linux, similar to “DEB”. Above all, the Ubuntu developer Canonical propagates the relatively new “snaps” in its Linux distribution. In Ubuntu 21.10, for example, the Firefox browser is installed as a snap variant by default instead of the usual apt variant from the known package sources (repositories).

What’s not so good about Snaps?

Snaps are usually installed through the Snapcraft “Snapcraft” store. However, this is proprietary and is controlled by Canonical. However, since one of the original motivations of Linux was the open source mentality, Snaps are viewed critically by many Linux users. They therefore tend mostly to the package format “flatpak“(Flathub) which works similarly to Snap but is being developed as an independent open source project.

From my own experience I can say that Snap packages often ran slower for me than a regular installation via APT. In addition, Snap variants run in their own environment (sandbox), which sometimes means that I lack certain access rights. I could not access my home directory in some Snap programs in the “Open file” dialog. Using the example of the Snap variant of Firefox, it is the case that it cannot install any Gnome extensions via the associated add-on. Apparently, depending on the program, Snap packages are not very mature yet.

Using Snaps in Ubuntu

You can use the terminal to manage snaps very efficiently with the following commands.

Which programs are installed as snaps?

This command shows you which programs are installed as snap in Ubuntu:

snap list

Firefox is installed as a snap package. Image: GIGA

Which programs are available as snaps?

This command shows whether, for example, the Thunderbird email client is available as a snap package:

snap search thunderbird

Thunderbird can also be installed as a snap package.  Image: GIGA
Thunderbird can also be installed as a snap package. Image: GIGA

How can I install programs as snap?

For example, to install Thunderbird as a Snap variant, you enter the command:

snap install thunderbird

Confirmed with your password.

How can I remove Snap programs again?

With the following command, for example, the Snap version of Thunderbird can be uninstalled again:

snap remove thunderbird

Confirmed with your password.

Ubuntu: Instead of installing Firefox Snap the regular Firefox

If you don’t like Snaps, you can replace the Snap version of Firefox with the regular version. Save your bookmarks and settings beforehand, if necessary. Open a terminal by using the keyboard shortcut [Strg] + [Alt] + [T] presses. Uninstalls the Snap version of Firefox with the command:

snap remove firefox

Enter your password and press [Enter]. Install the regular Firefox version with the command:

sudo apt install firefox

Confirm again with your password and the question about the disk space with [Enter].

By the way, you can also use a Snap version of Firefox and the regular version side by side in Linux. You might get confused about which program is currently open.

Whether you use Snap packages or not is up to you. There are certainly also situations where snap packages are helpful. That depends on the respective user. I don’t use it myself because I want to support open source.

Open source vs. commercial software – what do you use?

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