Wednesday, 15 June 2016 11:12

Developers back universal snap package format for Linux

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Developers from a number of GNU/Linux distributions have agreed to work on a package format known as snap that can be installed on any and all distributions.

An announcement from Canonical, maker of the Ubuntu distribution, said this meant a single binary package would work on any Linux server, cloud, desktop or device.

Dell, Samsung, the Linux Foundation, The Document Foundation, Krita, Mycroft, Horizon Computing, contributors to Arch, Debian, OpenWrt, Ubuntu, and several of their related distributions were all part of the announcement.

The announcement said snaps now worked on Arch, Debian, Fedora, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu GNOME, Ubuntu Kylin, Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu Unity, and Xubuntu.

Validation is ongoing for snaps to work on CentOS, Elementary, Gentoo, Mint, openSUSE, OpenWrt and RHEL; enabling them on other Linux distributions is easy.

The announcement claimed snap packages were easy to create and offered significant security benefits, greatly simplifying third-party Linux app distribution.

Former kernel developer Matthew Garrett claimed sometime back that snaps are a security risk; however as this perspective comes from someone who introduced a remote hole into CoreOS by blindly adding code, one must take such comments with a pinch of salt.

Each distribution has its own package format: for example, Debian and its siblings have the .deb format, while Red Hat and its derivatives have the rpm format. The announcement said snaps would sit alongside these native packages as universal apps that could not interfere with the base OS or one another.

According to the announcement, the snap format is simpler than the native internal package formats of individual distributions, because it is focused purely on applications rather than the core system itself. "Snaps are essentially self-contained zip files that can be executed very fast in place, making them easy to create."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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