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Ubuntu's "snappy" new way of packaging applications is no longer exclusive to Ubuntu. Canonical today is announcing that snapd, the tool that allows snap packages to be installed on Ubuntu, has been ported to other Linux distributions including Debian, Arch, Fedora, and Gentoo, among others. If you have no idea what the above paragraph means, here's a summary. Traditionally, applications for Ubuntu and similar distributions are packaged in the deb (short for Debian) format. These packages consist of the application a user wants to install, and they can also install other things that the package depends on in order to run (libraries, other applications, scripting, support files, and so on). Applications often require a lot of dependencies, making things more complicated, for example, when one application needs one version of another piece of software and a second application needs a different version of that other piece of software. "Snap packages solve this problem by creating self-contained packages," we noted in our review of Ubuntu 16.04, which brought snaps to servers and desktops. "With snap packages, applications are installed in their own container, and all the third-party applications are installed with them so there are no version conflicts. Snap packages are also smart enough to not install a package more than once, meaning applications installed via Snappy don't take any more disk space than regular applications." This allows users to update and roll back applications without causing problems to the rest of their operating system. It also comes with security benefits because applications are more isolated from each other and from core parts of the OS than they normally would be. View the full article
Canonical, the maker of Ubuntu, has been fending off criticism from privacy advocates because the desktop search tool in recent versions of the operating system also searches the Internet. That means if you're searching your desktop for a file or application, you might also see results from Amazon or other websites. One person who dislikes Canonical's search tool is Micah Lee, a technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who maintains the HTTPS Everywhere project and is CTO of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. Lee set up a website called "Fix Ubuntu," which provides instructions for disabling the Internet search tool. "If you're an Ubuntu user and you're using the default settings, each time you start typing in Dash (to open an application or search for a file on your computer), your search terms get sent to a variety of third parties, some of which advertise to you," the website says. View the full article