Linux's Flatpak and Snap tools: what are they and how do they work

By TechThop Team

Posted on: 17 Aug, 2022

Snap and Flatpak packages give Linux users an advantage over other operating systems. The Linux operating system has long been criticized for being difficult to use, as well as lacking productivity software.

My experiences with Linux in the early days were very similar to those described above. In addition to Linux being complicated to set up and run, installing software often required manual compilation and dependency installations. 

The days of those days are long gone. It's now possible to install hundreds of thousands of applications using package managers, making Linux extremely easy to use. Package managers, however, are not all created equal. It is easy to install software using apt on Ubuntu, for example:

In these package managers, the software is installed from repositories, and sometimes it is necessary to install one software before installing another. It is now very easy for package managers like apt to pick up and install dependencies for you. 

If any dependencies are missing, the above command will fix them. I depend on it quite often and find it quite helpful. The answer lies in Flatpak and Snap. In addition to being distribution independent, these package managers make installing software just as simple as their built-in counterparts.

As a result of the development of Snap and Flatpak, traditional package managers are no longer susceptible to dependency issues.

As you probably already know, both Snap and Flatpak packages include all the software required to install the package in question, including its dependencies. The developer of the Snap or Flatpak package has taken care of installing dependencies when you install a certain piece of software using Snap or Flatpak.

The ease of use of Snap and Flatpak isn't the only factor that appeals to them. The open-source purists can have a bit of a problem with one other major point.

Flatpak, as well as Snap, allows you to access many proprietary programs. Zoom or Spotify, for example, cannot be installed using apt or DNF. The Linux user now has access to an entire world of software with Snap and Flatpak. Additionally, I can find all kinds of necessary software at either Snapcraft's store or Flathub. 

In other words, both Snap and Flatpak make installing software much easier on Linux, but they also make it easier to install software that would otherwise be challenging or impossible to install. The GUI app store of some distributions also supports Snap and/or Flatpak.

It's not all rosy regarding Snap and Flatpak as you navigate the waters of Linux. A fairly consistent state of unrest has existed within the Linux community about which is the best option and why these tools aren't necessarily good for Linux. 

Despite this, Snap and Flatpak make Linux more user-friendly, which is exactly what I am interested in. I believe that both Snap and Flatpak have contributed greatly to the open-source operating system and to end users as a whole.

Therefore, I recommend new Linux users not pay attention to the bickering on either side of the fence. Linux as a whole and those who use it benefit from both formats, although each has valid reasons why it's better.

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