Steam as a snap

Continuing the discussion from LibreOffice Snap as default in 19.10:

I find it strange in this thread that so several people has said they would like to see Steam on Ubuntu being implemented as a Snap, and I am curious as to why? Once you have installed Steam, the first time you launch it Steam actually gets downloaded and installed so you always have the latest version. Afterwards every time it is launched it will update itself automatically to be up to date.

The initial package installed is just to ensure all the prerequisites are installed and you are ready to go. What would having it as a Snap improve?

Better security. You are launching random closed source apps within it. Separating it from the OS would be a great win.

It is the same as Firefox. You are browsing random sites. Each site could be considered an app written in Javascript.


Interesting. So launching a game from within Steam installed in a Snap will run said game from within the Snap isolated? It will have full access to the hardware with no added overhead (with triple A titles it matters) etc?

If so then I see the benefit, and thanks for the answer @jyaku.

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That’s a good question if that is technically feasible. I don’t really know. @kenvandine what do you think?

Well, it would probably be something to ask Steam or Valve itself.

Why would they know anything about snap packaging?

Because they already make Steam run on linux…?

But they don’t know anything about snap packaging of applications. Not their own and not any others?

But if you think they do: Just go ahead and ask them…

Let’s all take a deep breath here.

The comments are getting too short and snarky, and the discussion is heading into the weeds.
The signal-to-noise ratio is going in the wrong direction.

I’ll unlock this thread in 24 hours.
When unlocked, please stay close to the topic. The topic concept is: “What would having [Steam] as a Snap improve?

Well, if Steam were to be a snap, then one thing would be sure-it would join the army of snaps in the Ubuntu Software Store. It would also let it be automatically updated, instead of waiting for it to be in the repos, because that could be another version. Installing all at once, is better than installing a little bit, then all the others, at once.

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Well said. It would also make it easier for users to install Steam - currently, there is a wrapper package for Steam just to show it in GNOME Software (because Steam package itself is 32-bit only) and there are plans to drop this wrapper package and maybe the whole Steam package as well, so users would need to download Steam .deb package from the Steam Store website and manually install it. Steam Snap would solve this + could bring some fixes and other improvements that are not present in the deb package.


That bug report is very outdated and no longer accurate.

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This is my last message about snaps :

This is nonsense, there’s no reason to snap Steam. It does not help.

I saw that someone created a snap for the windows game “Trackmania” (emulated with wine) : this is a useful case ! I validate the snap.

But not a software as basic as Steam that any linux distribution offers in these classic repositories.

You bring as argument the safety but it is not only that that that counts, there is also the performance. (and snap technology is NOT efficiance).


To conclude on universal packages: if you really can’t do without universal packages, then go for Flatpak instead of Snap. At least with Flatpak, the performance is more correct, it’s not worth a debian package but it’s less worse than a snap package. novices should be less aware of the slowness with flatpak than with snap.

This is unhelpful. You’re ill-informed about the challenges delivering steam to users. Just because you don’t want it, doesn’t mean there’s no need for it. We’re painfully aware of your objections. Shouting about it repeatedly won’t actually help. Please stop.


Steam requiring admin privileges on Windows, with it being basically unable to run without the Steam service, and additionally modifying the NTFS ACLs, is the reason why I banned it for more than ten years, and I discovered only recently that there is a way to have the Linux client set up and running with standard user privileges only.

I didn’t even install the wrapper on my system, only unpacked the deb, looked at how it started, and did the whole thing as a standard user. I only installed the dependencies as admin, but I don’t have a problem with that, as long as they’re part of the Ubuntu distribution. Note that installing the wrapper adds Steam repositories to your sources.list, which is a no-go for me.

So I started using Steam on Linux a few weeks ago, but I’m concerned about how Steam suddenly deciding to require admin privileges could impact my system, and would likely mean I would have to ban it again.

Hence, on one hand, I’m interested with the idea of Steam being Snapped, which would possibly put the nail in the coffin of it being admin ever.

But on the other hand, I’ve read about issues with the Snap system, such as :

  • Performance problems. I’m thinking more about gaming performance, of course, not the client’s per se

  • Some parts becoming read-only, hence unconfigurable.

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  • since the snap confinement mostly happens via in-kernel features, you dont really have an actual performance hit at runtime, what has a performance impact is the copying of config files into the writable space on first startup as well as setting up that secure environment during subsequent app starts … at runtime your games will have direct hardware access without anything inbetween.

  • snaps ship readonly bits as well as setting up writable bits on first start or installation, else you wouldnt be able to configure anything at all … this is just a matter of packaging work.


Your reply is reassuring. However, I suppose only the client would be snapped, as snapping all the library as well seems an unmanageable task to me. But then, considering the Steam client almost always passes parameters and its environment to the games, couldn’t that transition from confined to unconfined pose problems ?

the games would be run inside the confined environment of the client so i doubt there would be issues with that …
but getting the packaging right so all this works is likely non-trivial and requires some dedication :slight_smile:

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