Back in mid-2019, we wrote a blog post detailing and comparing the most popular snaps across multiple distributions – Arch Linux, CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Manjaro, and Ubuntu. This article gave us a fascinating insight into the usage patterns across these different systems and their audiences.
We wanted to see if and how the situation has changed a year later. Have some snaps gained popularity? Have others waned? Are there any new differences, or perhaps similarities, among the distributions? To that end, we compiled a fresh table, with the top five snaps for each of these systems.
Top five snaps per distro
This is what we have in 2020:
In comparison, in 2019, the table looked like this:
Distro app hopping
With Arch Linux users, Spotify still holds the crown, Microsoft Visual Code has gained popularity, and Anbox has displaced Slack in the top-five list. CentOS users are all about productivity this time around. The presence of Certbot aligns with the overall shift to HTTPS across the Internet, and the growing use of the Let’s Encrypt service. Container and Kanban-style snaps are also quite popular.
Debian shows similar traits to CentOS – but with some notable differences, to make it all more interesting. Debian users seem keen on the Snap Store, which provides a graphical interface for snap management and installation, and they also like to have a bit of fun among more server-like tasks. Fedora users are still focused on a mix of entertainment and productivity. In a move similar to what we see with Arch Linux, Anbox also seems to have gained interest here.
Manjaro users are the most consistent of the bunch – with strong focus on fun and entertainment, and code development. The inclusion of the Zoom client snap is not surprising, given the global shift in work trends and the increased use of VoIP software in everyday communication due to the pandemic.
On Ubuntu, VLC remains the top choice. Code is also more popular, and so is the Livepatch service, which indicates a growing rise in the interest and use of this service, as it allows seamless, rebootless patching of the kernel. However, we must also take into account the recent release of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, which definitely helps in this regard. GIMP is a newcomer in the club, so it will be quite interesting to see how things pan out in the next twelve months.
If we look across the six distributions, we can see that people still care a great deal about communication and productivity, without compromising on entertainment. The adoption of Microsoft Visual Code is also quite telling, and it stands out among the other trends we’ve observed here. It points in the direction of greater collaboration and perhaps a need for a more common path between Windows and Linux when it comes to applications.
The Unsung Heroes
The table above does not include any snaps that may come pre-seeded (included by default) in any of the distributions, test snaps like hello-world, or platform and content snaps, which are used by snaps but not directly by human users. For instance, core, core 18, the GNOME and KDE platform snaps are good examples of snaps that could reside on a user’s system but are not interactively consumed.
Yet, they also deserve mention – especially the components that are not offered by default. For instance, the WINE platform snap and the KDE Frameworks snap are both quite popular across the distributions. They also indicate a growing desire among developers to make clever use of ready, reusable parts in their snaps, which can help achieve better consistency and well as a smaller size. Just recently, we talked about the performance improvements in Chromium, and in there, as part of the overall solution, we also mentioned the use of the GNOME extension, which helps improve the application startup time and halves the snap total size!
Once again, the data shows that Linux is as diverse as it can be, and that different distributions have their unique audiences with their own custom needs, for better or worse. And yet, we also see that there are unifying traits across the ecosystem, and that, at the end of the day, people care about things that help them stay happier and more productive.
We hope you enjoy this little piece. If you have any comments or suggestions, or you’d perhaps like to see additional articles analyzing different trends in the snap usage, please join our forum and let us know, and we will see what we can do.