Canonical has been talking up Snaps, a new type of package format featured in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. “Users can install a snap without having to worry whether it will have an impact on their other apps or their system,” reads Canonical’s announcement. But this isn’t true, as prominent free software developer Matthew Garrett recently pointed out.
Snaps are securely sandboxed, and kept separate from other parts of your system, if you install and run them on Ubuntu’s new Mir display server. Mir is used by Unity 8, Ubuntu’s convergence-enabled desktop that powers Ubuntu phone and the new Ubuntu tablet. Snaps can also be securely sandboxed if they’re run in a command-line environment.
However, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS still ships the Unity 7 desktop. It uses the X.org X server, which is based on the X11 windowing system. The old X11 system has its problems and needs to be replaced. That’s why Ubuntu is developing Mir, and it’s why other Linux distributions are developing Wayland. X11 needs to go.
This problem won’t be full resolved until Canonical moves to the converged desktop environment with Mir and Unity 8, and the converged desktop in general. Unfortunately, this likely won’t happen for the average Ubuntu desktop user until Ubuntu 18.04 LTS in two years.
Submitted by: Arnfried Walbrecht