Which of the 3 new software packaging alternatives on Linux is the best? Anyone who has used Linux a few years ago would not recognize distributions in their current state. The evolution was intense and at amazing speed, in this new packaging formats appeared in the scenario, just them: AppImage, Flatpak and Snap. Don't know what one AppImage, Flatpak or Snap? Here on the blog we have several articles explaining about these new technologies and teaching how to use them in your Linux distro.
If there is anything a new Linux user, perhaps an old one who has not followed these years, will come across the facilities of getting programs and installing them on the system.
For specifically Ubuntu users, PPAwhich were previously indispensable in most cases, have now become dispensable (in many cases). This is thanks to new ways of distributing software on the penguin platform.
The airborne doubt: Which is the best among the 3? This is a delicate matter. But by drawing a profile, it may be easier which alternative to indicate in view of the user in question.
AppImage – Advantages
If you have already used portable software on Windows, you know how practical a portable application can be without the need to download add-ons or install them on your system, often running them right from your USB stick. Well, in short these are some advantages of AppImage.
Another feature in ps-install, not needing to download the application, this is a hand on the wheel for those who have bad Internet.
AppImage – Cons
Some cons are: Not having automatic application downloads, and not always greater system integration, its size will usually be larger than a .DEB / .RPM.
AppImage – For whom:
It's a great option to use software that you don't always want to update for some reason. In my case, I use the Kdenlive in this formatBecause I have more control over its version, I can test others without impacting my operating system, and can edit some video if it is on a machine without Internet access that does not have Kdenlive.
Flatpak – Advantages
If you want to use software in current versions without adding an unstable repository to your system, Flatpak is perfect in these cases.
With a relatively large number of applications, Flatpak has become the darling of Open Source projects, the community seems to be opening up this format every day. For example the Nintendo 3DS Emulator, Citra. It recently adopted Flatpak as the official distribution format for Linux.
Some advantages of Flatpak are: several applications in this format, security when using a new app, even unstable does not affect your system. Not having problems with dependency errors. Better integration with the system, either in use or visual. You can even install various themes to your system in Flatpak.
Flatpak – Cons
To gain the advantages of a system free of instabilities or dependency errors, Flatpak had to adopt a strategy. Use RUNTIMES, where software dependencies are embedded. This prevents each program from accompanying libraries with them, as in the case of AppImage. Flatpak's Achilles heel, over time you end up with lots of Runtimes in the system, because not every app uses the same, it depends on its version, or who and how it was developed.
So if you have a slow Internet, or scarce disk space. Maybe Flatpaks aren't the best choice.
Flatpak – For whom:
If you don't like going to the application site looking for updates, you want to use applications on newer versions, have no problems with dependencies breaking your system, visual integration and system usage.
You have enough space to install the apps, and a reasonable internet to install the apps. Flatpak is a great option.
Snap – Advantages
Snap has many features of Flatpak, such as being SANDBOX, and applications will not interfere with your operating system. Accompanying all the advantages of being able to use the app without fear of damaging the system, due to some dependency. And applications as a rule do not need additional libraries.
A point to note, Snap uses another way to supply program dependencies. Each application comes with built-in libraries, and the most common ones are in CORE, something that works similar to Flatpak RUNTIMES. With a differential, this Core will be for all applications.
Snap – Disadvantages
Snap seems to have a good integration with the official Ubuntu theme, as in the various Linux distributions, it might look like a Windows 95 face. If you are a perfectionist, that might annoy you a little (laughs).
The way you remedy program dependencies can be in some cases an advantage over Flatpaks, and in others not. This will depend on the amount, and version of the applications that will be used.
Another thing about the initial startup of Snap applications, they don't seem to be as geishable as the other alternatives, at least in the current version, Canonical has been working on these improvements and the latest version of snapd, the daemon responsible for launching Snap software, They are being able to launch applications faster and with less response time.
Snap – For whom:
If you're a perfectionist, and don't support the possibility of some applications with a Windows 95 look. Or a bad Internet, you don't have the patience for larger downloads (this is true for Flatpaks too). Snap is not for you.
So what's the best?
The reality is that there is no better or worse, each case has a format, which meets a type of demand, and depending on the user, the 3 forms will be used. This is my case, I use several applications in Flatpak, others in AppImage and some in Snap. I confess that the slightly slow startup and the look of Snap won't let me use more applications as I would like.
But this is a matter of time, as these technologies are evolving more and more, and in a while these disadvantages I have listed may not even exist.
Some rumors surround the communities, one of which is that formats like Flatpak and Snap are bad because those with limited storage, like a 120GB SSD, won't be able to use them.
Well, that's a myth. As much as Flatpaks and Snaps, they demand a higher amount than other packages like DEB / RPM, their viable use in current hardware.
If your hard drive has space for Windows and its applications, you will have no trouble with Flatpaks and Snaps …
And which of the 3 do you use the most? Tell us in the comments, what prevents you from using one or the other, and what improvements you would like to see in these new formats.
See you next time. SYSTEMATICALLYin another post.
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