Firefox Snap

Since Chromium has been moved to snap and currently in testing for Ubuntu, the main reason for doing this is because of how rapid it is developed. Making it into a snap makes it easier for Ubuntu devs to build one for all supported Ubuntu. Since Mozilla recently announced that Firefox would move to a 4 week release schedule will making that latest version into a snap as default benefit the dev and offer non-snap ESR version for those whole so desire to use it make sense?

Firefox is already a snap. So if people want to opt to take those faster updates, then sure, they can opt into doing that. The Ubuntu Desktop team don’t publish the Firefox snap, Mozilla do, so the work there isn’t on us. Maybe in the future it might make sense to switch the Firefox deb to default to the snap. I don’t believe any plans are afoot to do that though, or indeed any other default apps.

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It is important not to use the snap of Firefox: it is catastrophic !!!

Canonical has already made this mistake with “Chromium” on version 19.10. It is the biggest mistake of the developers on version 19.10

I remind you: the vast majority of users do not want snaps!

The snaps are not efficient, Firefox is too slow with the snap, it is not acceptable!

Ubuntu will disappear forever if Canonical persists in snaps.

Please do not offer any more default snap packages in Ubuntu

deb packages is life!

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Do you havy any proper statistics of your claim that majority of user do not want snaps?

Because in the blog about Chromium deb to snap transition, Alan Pope did disclose the fact that Chromium snap has currently around 200k users across all supported distributions. For Chromium, that’s very nice number.

I don’t like when people talk for others and demand massive changes because they don’t like them.

Anyway, the “Ubuntu will disappear because…” narrative is quite old. It was here when Unity came along, it was here when Mir was announced, it was here when Unity 8 was announced, it was here when transition to Gnome Shell happened and it is here now with snaps. The truth is, Ubuntu is here and will be here.

I personally think that Mozilla did good job with their snap. It is definitely much better than back in 2018,

Anyway, Alan Pope already answered here that there is no plan to replace Firefox (deb) with snap. So I am not sure why are you so angry.

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Absolutely not!
On the contrary, snaps are not in demand!
In fact there is less than 5% of users who want snap software, however, with Ubuntu imposing snaps by default, many beginners find themselves, by mistake, with a snap package when they didn’t want it!

On the French-speaking forum in Ubuntu, many users complain about the slowness of some software. And after expertise, we realize that they installed it without knowing it in snap and not in deb because the software library put forward the snap package instead of the deb (which is of course a big mistake).

For example, there are many people who do not understand why the gnome calculator is so slow to start at the first start: because canonical imposes the default snap.

The vast majority of snaps installed are not voluntary, it is a choice imposed by Canonical (beginners do not have a hard time, they choose the method they are offered by default).

It is obviously that if Canonical previews snaps when installing a package that exists both in snap and deb, beginners will not ask themselves the question of the choice to make, they will choose the default choice (so the snap), which is why the stats of snaps packages mean absolutely nothing!

Do a survey if users prefer deb packages as before or snaps, you’ll see, there will be more users who prefer deb packages.

I’m not saying we should end snaps, but it shouldn’t be the default choice. Snap packets should simply remain an “alternative” such as flatpak and AppImage format. Nothing more!

We have enabled thousands of applications to be added to the Snap Store. Many of those are applications which are not available in the Ubuntu archive, at all. For some of those applications the only way to install them is to download the source, and compile it yourself.

Average users want to install and use software. They don’t care what package format the software comes in.

The only people who care about the packaging system are nerds, like you, and me.

Rather than tell us to throw the baby out with the bathwater, how about you help us?

Thanks for the specific example! Very useful.

We should totally make that faster! You’re right! @kenvandine - what can we do to improve GNOME Calculator snap first-launch performance?

The vast majority of things in Ubuntu are not “voluntary”. The user gets a very limited set of choices during the installer, with most decisions having been made by Ubuntu developers, or upstream developers of software we include.

Did the user choose Pulseaudio over ALSA? No, we did. Did the user choose Firefox as the default browser and Thunderbird as the default Email client? No, we did. This is the point of a Linux distribution. The distribution maintainer takes on board feedback from all interested parties, including developers and users, community members, and OEMs. We than craft an ISO backed by an archive of pre-compiled, pre-configured software which tries to fit everyone’s needs. It would be foolish for us to make rash decisions based on one person’s arguments. We have to take on board all the feedback, and data.

There are technical and usability advantages to snaps over debs, which is why we prefer them. Users typically just want the latest and greatest of whatever software they want. They don’t care how it is packaged.

Look at most Android or IOS users. They have no clue what version of Spotify, Chrome or Slack is installed. They just know they turned on automatic updates and have the latest release. A user on 18.04 - an 18-month-old release, has 18-month-old software in the Ubuntu archive. Users won’t get the latest versions of software in the archive. They’ll go looking elsewhere, like PPAs or the tricky path of building software from source. Neither of which is ideal.

We’re providing a system which allows users to get the latest versions of software on an (up to) five year old distro! That is a compelling argument for many. Just like buying a 5-year-old Android phone and still getting app updates from the Play store. It’s expected these days.

Sure, there may be problems with snaps. It’s software, and software has bugs.

As I’ve said before, most users don’t know or care what packaging system is used. They want the latest, secure and beautiful applications. How the 1’s and 0’s are laid out on disk is an implementation detail.

In the past we’ve made decisions in Ubuntu to select certain technologies like Upstart, Pulseaudio, Unity and others. Often a small number of vocal people tell us this is “the end of Ubuntu” and that we will lose all our users because of these decisions. It’s easy to throw opinions around, but taking time to help make things better takes a lot more professionalism and time.

Perhaps consider being in the camp of people helping make Ubuntu better rather than just tell us to do our work differently. What are you going to do to help?

Here’s where our opinions differ.

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If the application is not available in the repositories or PPA, then the snap / flatpak is acceptable OK;

But watch out for the order of priority.

  1. Official deposit
    if not available:
  2. PPA
    if not available:
  3. SNAP or FLATPAK
    if not available:
  4. AppImage
    if not available:
  5. Compilation from the source

For example, if I want the latest version of LibreOffice on the 18.04, it is better to use the PPA than the Snap because in 2 cases we will have the latest version but with the PPA the software will perform / fast unlike the snap.

I have been using the LibreOffice PPA for a very long time and have never had a problem with it.
https://launchpad.net/~libreoffice/+archive/ubuntu/ppa

Unfortunately for you, the slow snaps seems inevitable because it comes from its operation. Flatpak (the competitor of snaps) is also concerned even if it seems a bit faster.

From the moment you want to isolate the software with the own dependencies, it seems that it causes an unavoidable slowness compared to a conventional package.

it does not seem your opinion but I prefer a fast software even if it is not the latest version as a slow software but in the latest version.

That’s why for me, a PPA is better than a Snap: it’s as fast as the package in the official repositories while taking advantage of the latest version.

Of course there are many software without PPA, and that’s why I say that in this case, the Snap or Flatpak is acceptable.

Many users do not necessarily want the latest version of a software, if it is a fixed and stable version and ok security update level it’s good.

Under Ubuntu for many years it worked very well in this way: the default packages are fixed in a specific version with some exceptions (firefox, thunderbird …) and if a user wanted a newer version, he used a PPA.

Snaps is a new installation method that comes in 3rd place after the PPA.

I only install a software with his Snap if I have no other choice “powerful” ie:

  • not in official depots
  • no PPA
  • no deposit provided by the software publisher (see virtualbox)

Well I agree most users probably want something that works - out of the box - which deb package is still providing.

For the moment snaps don’t work as easily as deb packages - out of the box : you may need to set the right authorizations, plug them to the right interface⋅s, depending on your own software usage and habits. That’s nerdy.

Those steps are kind of out of sight for the newcomers and often lead to disappointments and feelings of « my software is broken » like « why can’t I access my usb stick ? why my game controller does not work ? why can’t I access such folder or such partition ? why does it look ugly ? why does it start so slowly ? where is my « downloads » folder ? where are my config’ files stored ?» and so on…

Snap imply new attentions and gestures and - for me - that’s where are the problems : any newly installed software through snap should ask or propose an easy way to set the best authorizations and interfaces, regarding each user’s case, machine’s configuration and devices in presence. If my computer’s got one SSD, two HDD, one usb gamepad-joystick-controller and a wacom-like graphical tablet, then gimp-snap should make use of the wacom, and stk-snap should make use of the game-controller, right after installing. Automatically. And LibreOffice should access the 2 HDD or at least ask once « do you authorize me to go there ? ». And so on. It’s more about UI/UX for managing snaps than snaps themselves, I hope.

A kind of semi-automatization of snap-settings ? Maybe it’s too early and requires a much broader and deeper re-thinking of the whole underlying OS ?

Beside that, I still don’t understand why the huge storage needs of snaps are not seen as a ( potential ) problem, even with modern hardware : storage is a finished, limited thing. And of course, snaps are a no go solution if you can’t rely on SSD. Snap can’t be a one-fit-for-all. It certainly has its strengths and drawbacks, depending on ( unpredictable, random, varied ) user’s situations.

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So the point where we came is that snaps are bringing a good opportunities but it’s lacking some usability stuff so we need to improve it and not throw it out of window to don’t lose those opportunities and creating a good environment for every of us. Keep your hatred to yourselves. As a long time linux user, I want to see snaps becoming better than anything because it created an awesome situation which made Ubuntu for regular users easier and preferrable to other big desktop OSes like Windows and macOS. I mean on how many OS you can install something like Discord, Android Studio, Telegram, Blender… etc. wtihout even opening the apps website and navigate through it to find the download button, download the binary and install without messing around sponsored stuff? You can do this on Ubuntu with just opening the software center and finding that app by searching its name and click install, it’s that easy now only with snaps pre-installed Ubuntu and I love it! I have the hope and faith that you guys will solve those problems in the near future. Thank you for snaps. We love it!

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Can we please stop turning any topic about specifics snaps (firefox here) to the same group of people just re-stating again what they personally think about the snap technology and the current drawback? That’s just unproductive and tiring for readers.

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Gave it a try, seems to work ok though right off the bat had an issue with one of the extensions I use.
In this case (send to mpv) it appears impossible to use on the snap due to the lack of a snap included nodejs and the inability of the snap to use the system installed nodejs.
Likely other functional deficiencies but the above is a deal breaker for me.

i find snaps to be quite useful, if a bit slow to launch at first. thats due to it having to pretty much “unload”, or “compile” at first, right?
at any rate, the idea and the usefulness of snap packages to those that use them for other reasons than to just get the latest and greatest software (think, ubuntu core, or digital signage, etc) will outweigh the “get off of my lawn” and the “it doesn’t work perfectly right now so it’s doomed” voices eventually, once everything is settled in, and people start to realize the benefit beyond “oOoOo, i shaved an extra 500ms off of my boot times!”.
just my two cents, as your average (and very grateful) ubuntu user.

edit: i am sorry, just realized that there was a totally different reason for this entire post, and i got caught up in reading and wanting to respond to… ah, just sorry. ill be more attentive next time.

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