Get a better snap package manager with this GNOME extension


If your desktop of choice is GNOME and you use snap packages, Jack Wallen believes this handy extension is a must-use.

Linux logo in purple
Image: PegasuStudio/Shutterstock

Snap packages are yet another technology that has been found to be somewhat divisive. From my perspective, bot snap and flatpak have made it possible to install applications on Linux that were not previously available. And given the ease of installing applications with snap, this package management system should be lauded by most as a way to help those unfamiliar with Linux to get up to speed more quickly.

SEE: 40+ open source and Linux terms you need to know (TechRepublic Premium)

The thing about snap, however, is that out of the box it’s all a command-line experience. Yes, you can install the snap-store snap package (which adds a powerful and user-friendly GUI to the mix), but quickly updating snap packages is still a bit tedious.

That’s when you turn to a handy GNOME desktop extension that makes it easy to quickly manage your installed snap packages. In fact, anyone that makes use of snap packages on the GNOME desktop should consider this extension a must-have.

What does this extension do? From a handy desktop drop-down menu you can do things like:

  • List all installed snaps.
  • List recent snap changes.
  • List available snap refresh (updates).
  • Refresh (update) installed snaps.
  • Install snaps.
  • Remove snaps.
  • Enable/disable snaps.
  • Hold all refreshes (updates).

Let’s get this extension installed and see how it’s used.

What you’ll need

To make use of this extension you’ll need a desktop Linux distribution that supports snap (such as Ubuntu and Pop!_OS), uses the GNOME desktop and the Firefox web browser.

How to install the Snap Manager

To install the Snap Manager extension, open Firefox and point it to the Snap Manager page on the GNOME Extensions site. You should see an ON/OFF slider associated with the app (Figure A).

Figure A

The Snap Manager listing on the GNOME Extensions page.
The Snap Manager listing on the GNOME Extensions page.

Click the ON/OFF slider until it’s in the ON position and, when prompted, click Install. The installation should go off without a hitch.

How to use the Snap Manager extension

After the installation completes, you should find a new icon in your topbar system tray. Click that icon to reveal the Snap Manager menu (Figure B).

Figure B

The Snap Manager popup menu.
The Snap Manager popup menu.

Let’s say you want to check to see if there are any refreshes (updates) for your installed snaps. Click the icon and then click List available snap refresh. This will open your default terminal window and run the command snap refresh --list. If there are snaps to update, they will be listed. If there are no snap refreshes available, you can simply press any key to close the terminal (Figure C).

Figure C

No snap refreshes are available at this time.
No snap refreshes are available at this time.

If you click Install snap, a new terminal window will open, requesting the name of the snap package to install (Figure D).

Figure D

Installing a snap with the Snap Manager extension.
Installing a snap with the Snap Manager extension.

Why it’s helpful

I get it, Snap isn’t the most popular package manager in the Linux landscape. But for those who do use a Ubuntu-based distribution and work with this system, you would be remiss if you didn’t add Snap Manager to your GNOME extensions. I’ve been happily using this extension for some time and it has made my experience with snap considerably better. Give this extension a try and see if it doesn’t help win you over to Snap.

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