When it comes to software installation on Linux, package management systems like Snapd, Flatpak, and AppImage are frequently mentioned and compared. All three of them are distribution independent package managers, meaning that they can be used on any Linux system regardless of what distribution you are running. In this tutorial, we will look at the differences between these three tools and discuss their pros and cons to help you decide which one would serve you best.
In this tutorial you will learn:
- Snapd vs Flatpak vs Appimage
- Pros and cons of Linux’s top 3 universal package managers
|Category||Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used|
|System||Any Linux distro|
|Software||Snapd, Flatpak, AppImage package managers|
|Other||Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the
# – requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of
$ – requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user
Snapd vs Flatpak vs Appimage: Cons and Pros review
Snapd is developed and maintained by Canonical, the same developer behind Ubuntu Linux. Snap bears a lot in similar with Flatpak, but their approach to software distribution is a little different. Snap hosts all of its installable application inside of the Snap store. The Snap store is also maintained by Canonical, although the applications it hosts are from tons of different developers.
Snap is installed by default on Ubuntu and some of its derivative distributions, but can be easily installed on the vast majority of the other most popular Linux distros. It has not been as widely adopted as Flatpak, but Snaps are self-contained and run in a sandbox, making new software pretty safe to install.
Flatpak is a package management tool that allows developers to package and distribute software. It is also the same technology that allows end users to download and install that software on their Linux system. It has some advantages over using a default package manager (apt, dnf, pacman, etc) because it has access to a lot of applications that have been contributed by the Linux community, and is generally very secure for installing and running software, since it creates a sandboxed environment for apps to run in. Best of all, it works identically across any distribution.
Flatpak works similarly to Snapd, but can install software from any number of online repositories that are either privately or publicly hosted by developers or system administrators. It gives users a lot of control over app permissions and security, with a lot of documentation and command line options available for those that wish to tinker. Flatpak is installed by default on Fedora Linux and Linux Mint, as well as some other popular distros. It has gained quick popularity among Linux enthusiasts and power users.
AppImage is another package management system that is frequently compared to Flatpak and Snapd. It works by installing files with the
.AppImage file extension, which can be distributed across any number of websites and online catalogs. It differs from Flatpak and Snapd in the way that the apps are distributed.
Appimage is very portable and does not require you to install a program before being able to use it. This works great for distributing an application to a lot of people, but makes maintenance and updates much harder. Snapd downloads app updates automatically, and Flatpak can easily update all installed applications with a single command, but AppImage does not have this functionality. This could be a good thing in some scenarios, but usually not.
In conclusion, Snap and Flatpak are mostly similar in how they handle software management on a Linux system, and both are good choices to use for package managers. AppImage is also an excellent choice when you want a portable package format that can be installed on any Linux distro. All of these package mangers have their pros and cons, so the one you choose will depends on your own scenario and preferences. You can also opt to use any combination of them, as they will not conflict with each other.