Flathub vs. Snap Store: Which App Store Should You Use?

Flathub Vs Snap Store Featured

Linux package management has come a long way from the nightmare it used to be. Still, the package managers provided by distributions aren’t always perfect. The Snap and Flatpak formats have made it much easier to install software no matter what distro you’re running.

Both Snap and Flatpak files are often available on a given app’s website, but both of these formats have their own centralized marketplaces. Which one is right for you? It’s not an easy question to answer.

Snaps and Flatpaks Explained

Both Snaps and Flatpaks contain not just an application but the libraries and support files it needs to run. This means you don’t have to worry about manually installing dependencies or even if they’re easily available on your system.

Snaps were created by Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu. For this reason, some people see Snaps as a Ubuntu-only application, but you can install snapd on any system.

Flatpaks are similar but aren’t tied to any one company. That said, major companies like Red Hat do contribute to the format. For a closer look at these two formats, see our detailed rundown of Snaps vs Flatpaks.

Both of these formats also have their own centralized app stores, and that’s what we’re looking at here.

Distro Support

Technically, the Snap Store currently supports more distros than Flathub. That said, various distributions have chosen both the Snap Store and Flathub. As you may imagine, Ubuntu opts to use the Snap Store.

Flathub Vs Snap Store Snap Store

Other major distributions have opted for the Flatpak format and Flathub with it. These distributions include Fedora and Elementary Linux, as well as the PureOS Debian variant from Purism.

Software Availability

If you’re looking to install games and non-free software, the Snap Store is where you’ll want to go. Not everyone uses Linux because it is free and open source, and these people may want to install proprietary software. If this is the case, the Snap Store is the only place to find it.

Flathub is more limited in that most software available via the service is open source. That’s not always the case, but it is common. This doesn’t stop companies from offering their own Flatpak packages; you just won’t find it via the Flathub service.

Future-Proofing

Snaps are limited in two ways. First, they’re directly tied to the Snap Store and won’t work without it. This keeps companies from offering Snaps that aren’t tied to the store.

The second is that the Snap Store is supported entirely by Canonical. Ubuntu is incredibly popular. and Canonical is doing well, so this means you don’t have to worry about the company disappearing in the near future. That said, Canonical may one day decide it doesn’t want to continue the Snap Store, at which point your Snaps are more or less useless.

Flathub Vs Snap Store Flathub

Flatpak doesn’t have either of these problems. Companies can offer packages in the Flatpak format without giving a second thought to Flathub. Even better, if Flathub disappears, your Flatpaks will still work.

Conclusion

The truth is, there’s no real reason to pick just one of these and stick with it. They’re both useful and don’t conflict with each other. That said, if you want to pick one, the Snap Store is better if you’re looking for commercial apps, even if they’re free. Flathub is better if you’re looking for strictly open-source software.

One example of where the Snap Store might be better is when you’re looking for games. As a matter of fact, we’ve already put together a list of the best games available on the Snap Store.

7 comments

  1. The most important point in the article is that Snaps don’t work without the Snap Store which means they are dependent on Canonical. This is antithetical to the spirit of free software, which protects the freedom of the user. Canonical wants to control your use of software AFTER you have installed it. That is not acceptable.

  2. I have been using Synaptic since the early days of SimplyMEPIS. I will continue using Synaptic until it is discontinued or starts working badly. Then I’ll make a decision between FlatPack and AppImage. Besides, as Michael says, Snaps is a proprietary application controlled by Canonical.

    “Both Snaps and Flatpaks contain not just an application but the libraries and support files it needs to run.
    What happens when multiple applications require the use of different versions of the same library(ies)? Looks like some people want to incorporate “.DLL Hell” into Linux. And to cure that, Linux will get a Windows-like Registry. Sounds to me like another step in the “Windowization” of Linux.

  3. Flatpack is not good. Art apps like Krita, or Blender does not detect Graphics cards. Snap on the other hand works, so that applies to Steam, then if the team under Flatpack don’t fix that, then Snap wins *Snaping Finghers*

  4. I will use neither as long as there are .deb packages in the official repositories.

  5. i disagree with one of your point :
    flathub is short of store and is seprate from flatpak.
    this is also the case in snap store its seperate from snapd/snappy and snapcraft. if the store die it doesn’t mean that snapd/snappy and snapcraft will die.

  6. > you can install snapd on any system.

    That’s not entirely true. Snap depends on systemd and there are still lots of distros without it. Flatpak doesn’t have this problem. Also, this is another point making Snap less future-proof. Looking at the developer’s replies to people asking support of systemd-less distros Snap will have a really hard time adjusting to the next init system/daemon manager.

  7. Your statement in the “Future Proofing” section about snaps not working without the snap store is incorrect. You can build, distribute and install snap packages from discrete files, independant of the snap store.

Leave a Comment

Yeah! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic! Check out our comment policy here. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation.