You've heard all the noise about the latest iteration of Ubuntu. Oh Snap, you didn't? Yes you did...you're just a bit confused. All the pundits are talking about Snap packages as if they were going to save the planet! Snap packages will cure every ailment the world has ever seen and are running for POTUS 2016.
Maybe those last bits are a bit of an exaggeration. But everyone has been going on and on about this newpackage management system as if it was a game changer. And guess what? It very well may be. But the truth of the matter is, very few are actually talking about how to use Snap.
Let's fix that.
I want to show you how to take care of the most basic task with Snap...installing applications. Before we get into this, I should warn you, there aren't a lot of Snap packages available yet. Even so, it's pretty cool to see how they are installed and, more importantly, that they install completely without dependency. That, in and of itself, is worth the price of admission!
It's all there
First things first...you must be using Ubuntu 16.04 for this to work. Any earlier release will not include the necessary tools for Snappy package installation. So, if you're using 15.10 or anything older, download and install the latest Ubuntu before continuing on. With Ubuntu 16.04, you have everything you need to work with Snappy.
Finding a package
At the moment, you can't just open up Ubuntu Software (thankfully, they've finally moved away from the Ubuntu Software Center) and search for Snappy packages. That means you're relegated to the command line (for now). That's okay, because it's really easy to use.
To find a Snappy package, open up a terminal window and issue the command snap find. The results will be displayed with name, version, and summary (Figure A).
Checking out what snaps are available for install.
Installing a Snappy package
Let's install the Hangups app (a text-based, third-party messaging app for Google Hangouts). Here's how you'd do that:
- Open up a terminal window
- Issue the command sudo snap install hangups
- Type your sudo password and hit Enter
- Allow the installation to complete
That's it. The Snappy package will download and immediately install. The one caveat to this is that the download time can be longer than the average package install (as in with apt-get), simply because some of the Snappy packages are larger. Regardless of the download/install time, the package is guaranteed to install (with no messy dependencies). The applications will also run without issue as well...so this is a massive win for Ubuntu.
Other options for Snappy
Here are some of the other things you can do with Snappy.
- Upgrade a Snappy package: sudo snap refresh PACKAGE NAME (Where PACKAGE NAME is the name of the Snappy package to upgrade)
- List all of your installed Snappy packages: snap list
- Remove a Snappy package: sudo snap remove PACKAGE NAME
- View recent changes (Snaps you've recently install, refreshed, removed, etc): snap changes
- And, of course, you can always issue man snap for more information/operations
Where do we go from here?
As I mentioned, at the moment there aren't all that many packages available. However, Snappy packages will continue to grow on the Ubuntu ecosystem until we're all happily installing all of our software with snap.
Snappy packages are an exciting upgrade to the aging packaging system for Ubuntu. Although currently limited in what it can install, it will at least show you what's in store. Give it a try and see if you're not immediately hooked on Snappy packages.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.