Adoption of Flatpak vs Snap

A recent blog post says that KDE is still undecided on which containerized application format to support. Inspired by a post in a heated discussion on Phoronix I decided to investigate on my own how well various distributions support either format, so here’s a table with the results:

Flatpak Snap
Arch Linux Extra / Latest release Community repo /
Out-of-date
Debian Latest in Stretch Latest in Stretch
Fedora Latest release (F24 and newer) Not in main distro /
COPR outdated (no F25)
Gentoo Overlay with latest release Overlay outdated
Mageia Not available
openSUSE 0.8.0 in Tumbleweed, latest in review Failed and outdated builds in add-on repo only
Ubuntu Latest in Zesty Latest in Zesty

Given these results alone, I’m quite frankly pretty puzzled how the jury could still be out and that’s completely ignoring the centralized nature of Snap. Distributing AppImages via Steam makes more sense than Snap (Steam has the same centralized nature as Snap). Not only does every somewhat mainstream distribution ship Steam in some non-free repo, it would also allow us to distribute applications to Windows and macOS.

Even Snap’s home turf, Ubuntu, supports Flatpak since 16.10. Canonical employee Zygmunt Krynicki (zyga) was tasked to package Snap for various distributions but didn’t touch most packages since about half a year (no idea why). The COPR for Fedora does neither ship the latest Snap release nor does it support the latest Fedora version (F25). Builds in the OBS repo for openSUSE all fail, even though openSUSE also uses AppArmor, which Snap relies on for its security features instead of SELinux. The only distribution outside the Debian/Ubuntu ecosystem that adopted Snap at all in an official repository was Arch and that one does not even ship the latest release – despite Arch’s rolling release nature. Meanwhile Flatpak was adopted by every somewhat major distribution except Gentoo (and even there the 3rd party overlay is more up-to-date than Snap’s). Smaller distributions like Intel’s ClearLinux and Solus also adopted Flatpak (I encourage to read the Solus post for some great insight).

Note: I’m not a developer, so I see myself as an outsider looking in on that topic who just wanted to contribute some stats. Although my current focus is packaging (RPM), I had no closer look at either format other than distribution support for the table above. I also disabled comments in this case, just because I don’t want to fragment discussion further. Head to the original blog post if you want to comment on this topic.

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