Writing snaps together

Working with a new technology often brings you to see things in a new light and re-think previous habits. Especially when it challenges the status quo and expectations of years of traditional use. Snaps are no exception in this regard. As one example twenty years ago we simply didn’t have today’s confinement technologies.

Luckily is using snapcraft a real joy: you write one declarative file, define your snap’s parts, make use of snapcraft‘s many plugins and if really necessary, you write a quick and simple plugin using Python to run your custom build.

Many of the first issues new snaps ran into were solved by improvements and new features in snapd and snapcraft. If you are still seeing a problem with your snap, we want you to get in touch. We are all interested in seeing more software as snaps, so let’s work together on them!

Enter the Sandpit

I mentioned it in my last announcement of the last Snappy Playpen event already, but as we saw many new snaps being added there in the last days, I wanted to mention it again. We started a new initiative called the Sandpit.

It’s a place where you can easily

  • list a snap you are working on and are looking for some help
  • find out at a glance if your favourite piece of software is already being snapped

It’s a very light-weight process: simply edit a wiki and get in touch with whoever’s working on the snap. The list grew quite quickly, so there’s loads of opportunities to find like-minded snap authors and get snaps online together.

You can find many of the people listed on the Sandpit wiki either in #snappy on Freenode or on Gitter. Just ask around and somebody will help.

Happy snapping everyone!

Get your software snapped tomorrow!

For a few weeks we have been running the Snappy Playpen as a pet/research project already. Many great things have happened since then:

  • With the Playpen we now have a repository of great best-practice examples.
  • We brought together a lot of people who are excited about snaps, who worked together, collaborated, wrote plugins together and improved snapcraft and friends.
  • A number of cloud parts were put together by the team as well.
  • We landed quite a few high-quality snaps in the store.
  • We had lots of fun.

Opening the Sandpit

With our next Snappy Playpen event tomorrow, 20th September 2016, we want to extend the scheme. We are opening the Sandpit part of the Playpen!

One thing we realised in the last weeks is that we treated the Playpen more and more like a place where well-working, tested and well-understood snaps go to inspire people who are new to snapping software. What we saw as well was that lots of fellow snappers kept their half-done snaps on their hard-disk instead of sharing them and giving others the chance to finish them or get involved in fixing. Time to change that, time for the Sandpit!

In the Sandpit things can get messy, but you get to explore and play around. It’s fun. Naturally things need to be light-weight, which is why we organise the Sandpit on just a simple wiki page. The way it works is that if you have a half-finished snap, you simply push it to a repo, add your name and the link to the wiki, so others get a chance to take a look and work together with you on it.

Tomorrow, 20th September 2016, we are going to get together again and help each other snapping, clean up old bits, fix things, explain, hang out and have a good time. If you want to join, you’re welcome. We’re on Gitter and on IRC.

  • WHEN: 2016-09-20
  • WHAT: Snappy Playpen event – opening the Sandpit
  • WHERE: Gitter and on IRC

Added bonus

As an added bonus, we are going to invite Michael Vogt, one of the core developers of snapd to the Ubuntu Community Q&A tomorrow. Join us at 15:00 UTC tomorrow on http://ubuntuonair.com and ask all the questions you always had!

See you tomorrow!

Need helping getting started with snapping?

Are you interested in snapping software and need help?


There’s a lot of good reasons for snapping software:

  • You get software out to millions of users: Ubuntu (snapd installed by default since Ubuntu 16.04 LTS), snapd available too on Arch, Debian, Gentoo, Fedora, openSUSE, openembedded, yocto and OpenWRT.
  • You get to define the experience: ship the stack the way you tested it. Just one simple test-scenario for you.
  • Building a snap is simple (one piece of YAML controls the build), publishing is instantaneous (one command to run, automatic review).
  • Multiple release channels in the store.

If you’re intrigued but need help to get started, tomorrow is a great time for this, as we’re going to have another Snappy Playpen event.

Tomorrow (13th Sept 2016) we are going to hang out on Gitter and IRC and will be there to answer your questions, work on snaps together and have fun!

In the Snappy Playpen project we are collecting best-practices and work on getting snaps out there together. We’re a friendly bunch and look forward to meeting you!

Snapcraft workshop at Akademy

I’m looking forward to next week, as

Going-To-Akademy-2016On Wednesday I’m going to give this workshop

So if you are interested in learning how to publish software easily and directly to users, this might be just for you.

Snaps are self-contained, confined apps, which run across a variety of Linux systems. The process of snapping software is very straight-forward and publishing them is very quick as well. The whole process offers many things upstreams and app publishers have been asking for years.

The workshop is interactive, all that’s required is that you either have VirtualBox or qemu installed or run any flavour of Ubuntu 16.04 or later. I’m going to bring USB sticks with images.

The workshop will consist of three very straight-forward parts:

  • Using the snap command to find, install, remove, update and revert software installations.
  • Using snapcraft to build and publish software.
  • Taking a look at KDE/Qt software and see how it’s snapped.

A few words about your host of the session: I’m Daniel Holbach, I have been part of the Ubuntu community since its very early days and work for Canonical on the Community team. Right now I’m working closely with the Snappy team on making publishing software as much fun as it should be.

See you next Wednesday!

Snappy Playpen event tomorrow!


Over the last few weeks, Tuesday has become the Snappy Playpen day. Although you can find us on IRC and Gitter all the time basically, Tuesday is where many of us have their eyeballs locked on the discussion and are happy to help out.

We’re making no exception tomorrow, 19th July 2016 will be another Snappy Playpen event.

It’s beautiful to see all the recent additions to the Snappy Playpen repository and other contributions. Just check out the snapcraft social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Google+) to get an idea.

We very much want to continue down that road: get more software snapped, help newcomers, get snapcraft.yaml files submitted upstream, fix documentation, answer questions, and grow together as a community.

Tomorrow will have the great advantage, that most of the people working on snapd and snapcraft are sprinting in Heidelberg right now. So they are all in the same place physically, so we are going to try to talk them into helping out and joining us for some Playpen activity.

To get started, have a look at the snapcraft.io page and ask us all your questions tomorrow! We’re looking forward to seeing you there.

Snappy Playpen event tomorrow!

Distributing software has never been easier. snapcraft makes it easy to build any kind of app, snapd and snap-confine bring security and hassle-free updates. Maintaining the app in the store is simple and you get lots of flexibility with different release channels.

If you’re interested or curious, adding your software to the Snappy Playpen, might be a good first step. Tomorrow, Tuesday 12th July 2016, we are working together on getting more snaps landed, getting things improved, updating our docs, helping out the snapd/snapcraft people, and upstreaming snaps.

It’s easy to get in touch, we are both hanging out in

We are looking forward to seeing you there.

Contributing to the world of snaps

Zygmunt Krynicki wrote about the availability of bite-sized bugs for the snapd project.

I took this as an opportunity to go through the snapcraft bugs as well and tag a few as bitesize myself. snapcraft is written in python, nicely commented documented and comes with a comprehensive test-suite. The people working on it are a lovely bunch and very helpful. So if you are interested in publishing software and have some knowledge in how a certain class of projects is built, you could do a lot of good here.

If you can’t write python or go (for snapd) code, that’s fine – there are lots of other ways to help out:

This is an exciting time for Ubuntu and other distributions – we’re making software much more easily available.

Snappy Playpen event next Tuesday

Next week on Tuesday, 5th July, we want to have our next Snappy Playpen event. As always we are going to work together on snapping software for our repository on github. Whatever app, service or piece of software you bring is welcome.

The focus of last week was ironing out issues and documenting what we currently have. Some outcomes of this were:

We want to continue this work, but add a new side to this: upstreaming our work. It is great that we get snaps working, but it is much better if the upstream project in question can take over the ownership of snaps themselves. Having snapcraft.yaml in their source tree will make this a lot easier. To kick off this work, we started some documentation on how to best do that and track this effort.

You are all welcome to the event and we look forward to work together with you. Coordination is happening on #snappy on Freenode and Gitter. We will make sure all our experts are around to help you if you have questions.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Being among the first in a new community

It takes a special kind of people who enjoy being in the first in a new community. It’s a time when there’s a lot of empty canvas, wide landscapes to uncover, lots of dragons still on a map, I guess you already see what I mean. It takes some pioneer spirit to feel comfortable when the rules are not all figured out yet and stuff is still a bit harder than it should be.

The last occurrence where I saw this live was the Snappy Playpen. A project where all the early snap contributors hang out, figure out problems, document best-practices and have fun together.

We use Github and Gitter/IRC to coordinate things, we have been going for a bit more than two weeks now and I’m quite happy with where we’ve got. We had about 60 people in the Gitter channel, had more than 30 snaps contributed and about the same number or more being in the works.


But it’s not just the number of snaps. It’s also the level of helping each other out and figuring out bigger problems together. Here’s just a (very) few things as an example:

  • David Planella wrote a common launcher for GTK apps and we could move snaps like leafpad, galculator and ristretto off of their own custom launchers today. It’s available as a wiki part, so it’s quite easy to consume today.
  • Simon Quigley and Didier Roche figured out better contribution guidelines and moved the existing snaps to use them instead.
  • With new interfaces landing in snapd, it was nice to see how they were picked up in existing snaps and formerly existing issues resolved. David Callé for example fixed the vlc and scummvm snaps this way.
  • Sometimes it takes perseverance to your snap landed. It took Andy Keech quite a while to get imagemagick (both stable and from git) to build and work properly, but thanks to Andy’s hard work and collaboration with the Snapcraft developers they’re included now.
  • The docs are good, but they don’t cover all use-cases yet and we’re finding new ways to use the tools every day.

As I said earlier: it takes some pioneer spirit to be happy in such circumstances and all the folks above (and many others) have been working together as a team together in the last days. For me, as somebody who’s supporting the project, this was very nice to see. Particularly seeing people from all over the open source spectrum (users of cloud tools, GTK and Qt apps, python scripts, upstream developers, Java tools and many more).

Tomorrow we are going to have our kickoff event for week 3 of Snappy Playpen. As I said in the mail, one area of focus is going to be server apps and electron based apps, but feel free to bring whatever you enjoy working on.

I’d like to thank each and everyone of you who is participating in this initiative (not just the people who committed something). The atmosphere is great, we’re solving problems together and we’re excited to bring a more complete, easier to digest and better to use snap experience to new users.

Second week of Snappy Playpen

We are in the second week of the Snappy Playpen and it’s simply beautiful to see how new folks are coming in and collaborate on getting snaps done, improve existing ones, answer questions and work together. The team spirit is strong and we’re all learning loads.

Keep up the good work everyone! 🙂

It’s only Thursday, but let’s have a quick look at the highlights of this week.

New snaps

  • Added Tyrant Unleashed Optimizer, by Christian Ehrhardt
  • Added mpv git build, by Alan Pope
  • Added imagemagick6-stable, by Andy Keech
  • Added keepassx, by Leo Arias
  • Added consul, by Leo Arias
  • dcos-cli snap, by Leo Arias
  • deis workflow snap, by Leo Arias

Work in progress snaps

Some of these snaps still need help, so take a look at the list of our open PRs and dive in.

Fritzing snap

  • Initial working version of Fritzing, by Will Cooke
  • Continued work on GIMP git, by Andy Keech
  • Proposed Imagemagick 7 from Git, by Andy Keech
  • Initial working version of Sylpheed, by Simon Quigley
  • Pidgin snap from git, by Simon Quigley
  • TeXworks snap, by Galileo Sartor
  • MATE Desktop snap, by Martin Wimpress

Updated snaps

  • Moved Ristretto to use a common GTK part (David Planella)
  • Moved Leafpad to use a common GTK part (David Planella)
  • Moved Galculator to use a common GTK part (Simon Quigley)
  • Cleaned and fixed snaps

General updates

  • Didier Roche fixed the Travis CI
  • Created a reusable wiki part for GTK apps

Get involved

If you want to get involved, it’s easy: