The power of snaps and breathing new life into old distros

I was feeling nostalgic so I installed Ubuntu 14.04 on an old laptop. Obviously it has been out of standard support for almost 5 years, and ESM is also going to end this year. However I wanted to try and see if new software is usable on this almost 10 year old OS. Knowing snapd can be installed on 14.04, I did just that, installed the core base snap and snapd itself as a snap and everything was good to go. First off, the most important program to have on a desktop nowadays is an updated web browser. Most people spend a lot of time doing activities in the web browser. I forgot what is the last Firefox version in the repos for 14.04, but it is pretty old, from 2019 I believe, before Mozilla changed its icon to the current one. So the first thing I did was try to install the Firefox snap. That didn’t work as it required a newer version of systemd for something during the install process (I reckon it should work on 16.04). I am happy to say that the Chromium snap runs really well, however. I also tried some other snaps. The latest LibreOffice and Thunderbird snaps also run beautifully. SuperTuxKart 1.3 runs as well (1.4 isn’t available yet in the Snap Store, and indeed, Snap Store also works). VS Code installs but crashes. However, the Atom snap works.

Above is an image showcasing the Chromium snap running on 14.04. And in case you are wondering, cpufetch is a snap as well.
Most of what I have tested works which definitely improves usability of this old version. Of course, I’m not promoting running such an old version on your PC, but there are reasons to do so for some people, and I just wanted to mention that snap makes it much more feasible to do so. And it really is impressive to be able to run a lot of new programs on an almost 10 year old OS, because 10 years in the Linux world is ancient. Snap, however, can help breathe in some more life into outdated Linux distros. And it definitely helps that snapd can update itself independently from the distro repos.


Back with some more tests. Now on Ubuntu 17.04!
As expected, the Firefox snap now works. What’s even better though, is that the Visual Studio Code snap works. A few days ago there were a few articles talking about how an update to the Visual Studio Code DEB package made the program unusable on Ubuntu 18.04. Microsoft later rolled back the change, to give some time to users to upgrade. People that cannot upgrade from 18.04 for whatever reason, should probably migrate to the snap package to avoid having to deal with another breakage later on. But back to the topic at hand! Here’s a screenshot:

And as a side note, I did try Unity 8 as well:

Not much success running the Firefox snap in Unity 8, but this was just a curiosity.

Anyways, I doubt 16.04 would have any difficulty running these 2 snaps as well, so that’s pretty good all around for people stuck on older systems!