Ranking all app types in Zorin (2023 Update)

I did a ranking of the different app types (or maybe I should call them package managers) in Zorin last year. However, I had little knowledge of (at least) some of them. So, I'm re-attempting this ranking with a little more knowledge.

Again, this is my personal opinion and we're likely to have different views on each package manager.

5. Snaps

While snaps have their own folder, it can mount on the filesystem like a disk drive.
That's not the worst part though, I found out that (and some of you might know this) while its runtime is open source, its backend is not. Not good for a company dedicated to open source stuff. Moreover, they are slow to start (specifically the Firefox Snap). This, combined with the fact that Canonical is enforcing this in their official Ubuntu flavours is why I've placed snaps at the very bottom of the rank this year.

4. Tar.gz/ZIP

Extract and go right? Well no. Not really. This is really more for advanced users as you would either have to do complex file management using the CLI or find the binary file. Not a lot of devs use this, so it's not very common.

3. Flatpaks

Last time, I placed this at the very bottom simply because they're slow. This time I'm placing this in number 3 because I have better understanding of them. Flatpaks are sandboxed, which means they are more secure than say DEBs. Furthermore, you don't have dependencies messing with your installation.
On the other hand, Flatpaks take up more disk space than other package managers. If you have say a full suite of GNOME Flatpaks, I suppose that wouldn't be a bad thing. Also some Flatpaks don't match your GTK theme.

2. AppImages

AppImages were interesting to me ever since I first came across them. They're portable, which means you can simply throw them onto your external drive and they will still run similar to portable apps in Windows. As long as that system has LibFuse on it. If you install it bare, you won't get a unique icon like other package managers do. Which brings me to the AppImageLauncher, which allows you to treat your AppImages like normal desktop apps.

1. DEBs

DEBs are my favourite package manager in Zorin and that's for a reason. They are super easy to install and are for users with any skill level. It's download process is pretty much the same as downloading an EXE or MSI file on Windows. You can install it using GDebi, dpkg, or double click it to do it from the software store. It's also the most common package manager.

References:
Package Managers Explained - YouTube
Snaps (Software) - Wikipedia

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With flatpaks not matching your theme, simple:

sudo flatpak override --env=GTK_THEME=theme-name

where theme name is your custom theme in your home directory.

As far as I know, Snap can't re-use it's libs like flatpak can do (please correct me if I'm wrong), so the file size of apps from Snaps is huge compared to standard deb or flatpak.

Okay, for clarity, a package manager is an applcation or command line installer for other applications. Items such as snap, flatpak and App Images are self-contained installers/engines. A 'proper' package manager would be Synaptic Package Manager, Gdebi, and Apper and Aptitude via command line. You could add Gnome Software and KDE (Plasma) Discover, but my proposition of 'proper' package managers are the real deal and superior to flatpak, snap, and App Images. If there are no need for security passwords on install and removal for snap, flatpak and App Images that makes for a less secure system and someone accessing your machine (though highly unlikely) could remove said apps without the need of a password. Zip files and tar.gz files are just compressed items that need extracting and building, with the exception of themes. I much prefer themes that are built with tar.gz over others as DE's that have a 'theme' manager handle 'tar.gz' files better over .zip files which I ignore! (Such as MATE on GhostBSD - which sadly I am ditching as I can't get my printer to work with it!).

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Right right.

Snaps also have a pretty good list of advantages over every other type as well. No offense but this list feels pretty biased.

Those advantages are why quite a bit of stuff is only available as a Snap or Deb

It's just I've never done a rank before.

I’m not upset or anything. If you don’t like snaps that is fine. Mainly just mentioning for other people’s sake.

All types have their merits and drawbacks.

Good read on the matter

Across the web, just about everything I read about Snaps is biased. In Snaps favor.
None mention this:

None mention how Canonical promised to not replace APT packages with Snap, then replaced APT packages with Snap.
OR how for a while there, on Ubuntu you could run "sudo apt install (software)" and it would divert the command and install it as a snap without your consent.

Very few mention that it slows your computer and slows boot a lot.

Most articles on "how to install" a piece of software list Snap as the First method. And some neglect to tell you that you can install by the standard APT packaging at all. That is highly misleading and biased.

So, I would say that @Turtle11 's post actually offsets the heavy present bias across the web.

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I would say most of what you said is not true. The internet in general is heavily biased against Snaps not for

Also Canonical is the creator and operator of Snaps do you expect them not to heavily implement them?

Not the best analogy but

I am forced to buy Toyota branded rims for a new Toyota no matter if I intend to use them or not.

I do agree that installing Firefox as a deb should be easier though. That bit is overkill from Canonical.

EDIT
I do want to add that I like Zorin’s approach to this. Just put them all in front of the user and let the USER decide. I understand Canonical pushing Snaps because they make them but I don’t think there is any reason for say Mint to pick sides. (Most distros are picking one or the other and not both)

Also if you do not like Snaps that is fine. That is why the choice that Zorin gives is so important for each person to make up their own mind. Snaps is probably my go to most of the time because Snaps/Flatpaks/AppImages in general just tend to have less effect on your system as a whole than Debs and Snaps have by far the most software. But if the actual dev of a software creates a Flatpak version and not a Snap version (Godot for instance) I use the Flatpak.

I do not expect them to lie about it.
I do not expect them to break their promises to the users.

Go ahead and do a search for how to install about ten apps. Paste your first hits here as links and show whether they promote Snap or whether they speak against it.

You will plainly see that they heavily promote Snaps and do not mention what Turtle mentioned in this thread.

I do not understand this statement. It does not make sense.
Are you saying that Aftermarket parts for Toyota vehicles do not exist (They most certainly do, including all the rims you could want).
Are you saying that when you choose to buy a Toyota, you get Rims with it? It would be nonsensical for Toyota to sell their vehicles without it.
And this pales when you look at how branding is used on vehicles - such as Cummins. Ford does not make the Cummins Diesel engine. You can choose to buy a Ford with a Cummins Engine and it will say "Cummins" on it.

How do you define "less effect?"
Do you have a list showing that Snaps contain - By Far- more software?

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I am saying you are buying the Toyota rims no matter if you want them or not. Just like Canonical packages Snaps no matter if you want them or not. (You can get different rims if you want but that is what the car is coming with. Just like you can remove Snaps if you want but that is what Ubuntu is coming with.)

If you use a Snap/AppImage/Flatpak it is far less likely to mess with system files than a DEB.

I think Snaps having more software is pretty common knowledge at this point. It is difficult to find a comprehensive list but there are several things that I personally use that are only usable as a Snap.

I will take this challenge in a bit. From personal experience I do not recall seeing Snaps very often. Usually DEB is going to be the preferred by most way on a Ubuntu based system.

If you mean Linux in general you could have a point as I have less experience with searching for that. But (IF) they do that it is more to do with the fact that more developers use Snap than Flatpak. A lot of Flatpak's are packaged by fans not the actual software devs. (This defintely happens with Snaps to, just less often from my experience. Godot is a good example)

I am actually about to be making a fresh install of Zorin. I switched to Ubuntu as you may know from my post a little while back but I really like this community. You guys are a lot less "elistist" than users elsewhere. I also feel I can proabably help a bit on the support side of things as I know my way around. I will take your challenge as I do this. (I apperciate that you make arguements instead of just attacking other people. I hope I come off the same way to you)

Also sorry for the multiple replies. Going to start using the Forum better lol

I do not see this as equivalent in any way.
When you buy a car, you expect to get what you need to fully have a car.

You do not expect to get something you do not need and that is not the standard, much less to have it forced as Canonical is doing with Snap.

Do .deb packages "mess with the system?"
Can you provide examples of .deb packages messing with the system and making things break?
I can provide a great many examples of how the double-sandboxed nature of Snap and Flatpak break apps and do not work properly because they cannot access the system.
This forum is filled with users who post trying to figure out why their Snap or Flatpak does not work - only to realize it is because the app needs access to the system - which Snap and Flatpaks do not have.
You state a near illusory case, here. You are implying that .deb packages have this major problem where they mess with the system.

No, they really don't.
They interact with the system. Because that is what a system is supposed to do.

This is not evidence.
It is not convincing to support your claim. There are many things a person may take for granted as common knowledge - and are in fact, even flat out wrong.
Common Knowledge: We only use 10% of our brains

  • False. We use 100% of our brains.

Common knowledge that frogs won't jump out of water slowly boiled.

  • False. Frogs will jump out of any water as soon as it becomes uncomfortable.

So on and so on.

I would actually argue that Developers prefer snap or flatpak even if they are not the best solution and even if the users do not - and this is due to them wanting to make things easier for themselves and not about doing what is the right thing to do.

Let's change this for a moment - for the sake of comparison - to Wayland as a topic.
Briefly.
I prefer Wayland. I think it introduces improvements. Many people oppose Wayland.
If you search this forum, however, you will see me speak against Wayland often. You will see me to advise to avoid it.
Wayland has its pros, yes. I love those pros. But... I am not oblivious to the fact that Wayland, in the end, produces a bad user experience due to its breaking apps and lack of reliability.
That is what matters.
The End User is all that matters. Not what the developer wants in order to align others to his own self-interest. Not what companies want to push.

I see Snap and Flatpak similarly. In some ways, they improve things like falling into a dependency hole or creating confusion or tricky installs. But like Wayland... they way that they both are implemented are deeply flawed. And the result is far more bloat, slower performance, breaking of apps that cannot communicate with essential system files and so on. I can suggest avoiding them sometimes, but fully support others right to choose for themselves. Sometimes, I even recommend a user uses a Snap or Flatpak.

My biggest issue with Snap and Electron is that they reduce and remove User Controls.
Flatpak does so, but not as much and much of that control is restored using Flatseal.

You absolutely do. I enjoy debating topics in order to find Merit and Accuracy. I am known to change my position if the arguments given are convincing and have more merit than my own.
But please keep in mind that I often have a position due to my examinations already weighing the merits - do not expect I am easily convinced.:wink:
I admit, I did react a little bit when one of your posts bordered on accusing me of lying - I needed to edit my reply a few times...

If you install a Deb file the system does not care if that file is an application or part of the "Core" system. They can effect each other and cause things to break. I am not saying this is common only possible and it does happen.

This absoutely does happen. For instance on my .Net SDK I have got to form a symbolic link to it for it to work correctly. But it can not mess with my core system which I prefer

This is true. Maybe I will do research to prove it? lol But from my experience and the experience of most I have spoken with it is true but that is not factual evidence. Some websites do list it as having the most but do not back up those claims that I have seen.

As a semi-developer making life easier for developers is pretty important as well. But I think the end user should decide what they want to use. Hence I like Zorin's approach of putting them as equals.

As I mentioned above this does happen and can make life a little harder for newer users. But I prefer the sandbox so I do not have to worry about my core OS being effected if I do something a little stupid. Wayland is mostly fine on things like Fedora from my experience. But I am personally still fine with X11.

You know after I posted that I worried I might have came off to strong. I was not trying to call you a liar I simply meant in my opinion you are mistaken. Apologies

This community is what got me to install Zorin back. You guys are awesome. Everything has been pleasant and I am glad to see there are not "elistist" running around who thinks that only one way is the end all be all but can argue why they see things the way they do.

(Working on your challenge btw lol)

Then we can say the same about Snap or Flatpak and therefor, only puts them on even level. It implies that changing to Snap does not solve that issue.

I am still unsure of what you mean by your Core OS being affected. Snap and Flatpak both install to your Core OS. They are integrated into the system and they rely on SystemD, as well. Flatpak can be used without SystemD, with some configuring.

Have you ever used a Decision Matrix?
It might be interesting to make a detailed one about Snap, Flatpak and APT and see what it yields.

I do not think Snap is especially bad. But, for me personally, Integrity is very important.
And how Canonical has behaved in regards to Snap has been definable as Very Bad. They broke trust with the users on multiple occasions. This is a big deal, even if it were to detract from what could have been an improvement.
And now, they are shutting Flatpak out on Ubuntu and Ubuntu flavors in a way that looks a lot like Conflict of Interest.
Some argue that they have the Right to do so and this is true. But it is not respectable. And it does not mean that those of us that speak out against the restriction of user choice in Freedom are wrong to do so. We have the Right to express disagreement, too.

Snap does more than Sandbox. See, on a Linux Core system, your apps are generally already sandboxed. Snap adds another sandbox. You suggest this as a benefit, whereas I suggest this is a detraction. That double-sandbox is often the biggest flaw with Snap.
As far as security:

According to Matthew Garrett, Snap can’t quite deliver on the last promise. Garret works as a Linux kernel developer and security developer at CoreOS, so he should know what he’s talking about.
According to Garret, “Any Snap package you install is completely capable of copying all your private data to wherever it wants with very little difficulty.

Repeatedly, Flatpak and Snap both have been reported as having rather glaring security holes. Far more so than have ever been reported on APT over a much longer period of time.

APT could stand some improvements. But are Snap and Flatpak improvements?
Both of the companies that produce them have a long history of utterly disregarding their user base.
Limiting their user base and restricting their ownership and freedom on their computers.
And, in Canonicals case, of deliberately misleading the public by redirecting APT to Snap without user permission. And of promising to not replace APT, then distributing the Snap Store and doing just that.
This breakage of Trust elicits zero confidence in the security of their product.
Reading the Security reports only adds to that distrust.

This is true, but installing a Snap it is basically impossible to install something that conflicts with the system files is what I am trying to say. I was reading on a forum yesterday (It could have been here but I think it was the Ubuntu Reddit).

How someone installed a bunch of PPA and Deb files and screwed up their install trying to make XFCE look like Windows XP. While I realize that Snaps/Flatpaks probably could not accomplish what they were trying to do the fact is the PPAs messed up their system in a way that it is unlikely for Snaps/Flatpaks to do.

It is their job to push their standards. Yes, they have been a little heavy handed especially early on but I can not blame them for blocking Flatpaks out of the box on their systems. Snap is their standard and it is their job to push it for as much adoption as possible.

It is kinda both to be honest. Defintely causes more complications sometimes.

This is what I came up with going to the offical website of the softwares (Usually first option on Google/Brave Search)

Brave Browser website

Deb install

Unrecommended Snap listed below Deb option

Jellyfin

Recommends install script that installs Deb packages (Does not work on Zorin. Need to manually install Debs)

Steam

Deb file is all that is listed on the website

.Net SDK

Script that points to deb files/tar.gz

(I prefer Snap version and will be using that, this version is not even mentioned on their website)

JDownloader2

Points to script, am actually unsure how it works. Read over the script some but don’t totally follow (Uses Java)

(I am installing Snap version not mentioned on website)

Unity Hub

Installs Deb files from their PPA.

Bitwarden

I use the browser extension but the actual Linux version is an AppImage. Unsure if any other versions exist

Visual Studio Code

All versions are listed more or less equally outside of the Deb button being bigger (I prefer the Snap version)

Piper

Install from source on GITHUB

(I use the Flatpak version, You need to install Ratbagd from Deb and manually enable it with SystemMD if you go this route)

Blender

Source file is default. Snap option listed if you look

(Using Snap)

Aseprite

Deb is only option I believe. To be fair I do not see how they could do it any other way. (AppImage would work as well I guess)

Mono

Deb files from their PPA (Older versions in Ubuntu PPA)

Timeshift

Deb from their PPA

VirtualBox

Deb download

Web Apps Manager
Deb file but this is a Mint centric utility so it really was not going to come any other way.

Nothing else is coming to me that I need to install right this second. May edit this more as I go

But you blame Mint?

Many of the items you list are not commonly installed by users. Some are a bit, but...
Let's look at Common Installs:

The Search for Brave.

The first two hits agree with your assertion:

Which is good, because they used to promote Snap first. This has changed.

Let's search other browsers.
Chromium Search.

First hit: promotes Snap.

Firefox:

First hit covers distro repo, then snap, then flatpak.

Second Hit : Promotes Snap first.

VLC

Snap is first.

Clementine:

Apt first, snap second

I am running out of time, but You Listed quite a Few Developer tools. The average user does not download or install that stuff. I am pointing out that we would get better results by focusing on what the Average Daily User would be looking for.
The vast majority of my exposure to it is based on what users ask about on this forum and me looking up the install instructs trying to help them.
It is not based on my own app searches since I search in apt on the terminal for my own use.

Not for making just a Deb version but I do think it is wrong to exclude Snaps all together from the OS without requiring users to do a work around. Taking software away from users is not very helpful. Especially considering sometimes you can only get the latest version of a software as a Snap (Older Debs on PPA maybe).