The Snap plugin for GNOME Software is being ‘disabled’ in Fedora 31, the distro’s next major release.
Red Hat’s Richard Hughes announced the change on the Fedora developer mailing list, citing various issues with the plugins QA and long-term usefulness.
Neal Gompa, who maintains the Snap package in Fedora, says the decision has “blindsided” him.
So why is Fedora doing this?
Well, code quality and concerns about the impact the plugin has on the overall GNOME Software user experience are cited:
“The existing snap plugin is not very well tested and I don’t want to be the one responsible when it breaks. At the moment enabling the snap plugin causes the general UX of gnome-software to degrade, as all search queries are also routed through snapd rather than being handled in the same process,” Hughes writes.
“The design of
snapd also means that packages just get updated behind gnome-software’s back, and so it’s very hard to do anything useful in the UI, or to make things like metered data work correctly. There’s also still no sandboxing support years after it was promised, which means on Fedora running a snap is no more secure than “wget -O – URL | bash” […] unlike Flatpak.”
Also factoring into the decision is word that Canonical is working on its own bespoke Snap-only store app, with Hughes revealing that: “…developers currently assigned to work on gnome-software have been reassigned to work on Snap Store”.
Big Change, Minor Impact
On paper this might read like frightfully big news but in reality few Fedora users will be affected.
Fedora does not, to my understanding, ship with or enable the
gnome-software-plugin-snap package by default.
And while disabling this specific add-on will makes it harder for Snap app loving Fedora users to install Snap apps using GNOME Software, it does not remove the ability to install Snap apps on Fedora — which is an important point to stress.
Admittedly this decision leaves a small dent in Canonical’s efforts to promote Snap apps as a cross-distro format.
But so long as the core
snapd package remains available Fedora users can install Snap apps using the command line (and, when ready and made available, the new “Snap Store by Canonical” app).
Is this decision to disable the Snap plugin in Fedora 31 apropos of nothing, or does it add weight to the claim that the wider free software community is closing ranks on Snap as a format?
You tell me!