An all-snap Ubuntu desktop is coming — and sooner than you might think!
Canonical’s Oliver Grawert says the next long-term support release of Ubuntu will come in in 2 versions: a classic, deb-based edition (default) and, for the first time, an immutable, snap-based build for enthusiasts to experiment with.
You can’t see me right now but I assure you I’m pulling my best faux-shocked face 😉.
Why the snark? Well, let’s face it: an all-snap Ubuntu desktop was an inevitability. If I’m surprised by anything it’s not that this is happening, more that it’s taken this long to happen at all!
Sounds like this new snap-based desktop build won’t be the default, i.e. the version most people will choose to use. It’ll be an alternative download for those able to live with any limitations (it’s new, so there will be some).
Even so, the arrival of an immutable Ubuntu desktop is a huge deal.
Ubuntu Core launched in 2015 as a snap-based, immutable version of Ubuntu tailored to IoT, embedded devices, and other (non-desktop) purposes. It’s been fairly successful. As you read this it’s out there, humming away in digital signage, robots, drones, and so on.
But Ubuntu Core isn’t a desktop product. You can install Core on a Raspberry Pi 4 (among other devices) and (try to) install a desktop on top of it, but it’s not explicitly geared for that purpose.
This will be.
Immutable desktop distros are the trend du jour right now, with the likes of Fedora Silverblue and EndlessOS blazing a trail. They offer benefits over traditional OSes, including better security and reliability from a read-only file system, transactional updates, and easy rollback of changes.
With plans to ship CUPS (the Linux printing stack) as a snap in Ubuntu 23.10, and make other vital desktop components snaps up or snap-compatible (even graphics drivers). it seems the stars — or certainly the packages — are aligning to make Ubuntu’s take on immutable Linux a reality.
You don’t have to venture far in the Linux community to find criticism of snap (not all of it unearned, granted). But could the arrival of all-Snap desktop provide the packaging format with an opportunity to showcase what it can do?
I think it could.