.deb vs Flatpak vs Snap vs AppImage: What to use when?

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Mintymandy34
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.deb vs Flatpak vs Snap vs AppImage: What to use when?

Post by Mintymandy34 » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:16 am

Hello.
I'm a new user of Mint.

A friend of mine told me to follow this priority when installing software:
1. Distribution's repo, i.e. from Software Manager, (excluding flatpaks)
2. Flatpaks (from Software Manager)
3. PPA from developer's launchpad page
4. .deb from developer's website
5. AppImage from developer's website.

I asked him the reasoning for this and he explained Software Manager is maintained by Mint devs so it's the most safest and secure thing.
However, some latest softwares aren't available from the normal section, so I would've to install from the Flatpak section, they've sandbox(couldn't get it).
If neither is available, he said to get it from PPAs (he taught me how to do that, but I'm confused).
Lastly he said to get .deb instead of AppImage cause .deb receives updates and AppImages don't cause they're portable(I'm not sure if I got that right).

So, I would like to know, if there are any advantages, disadvantages over using one packaging over another, and when will I need to use one.
Like what case will require what and what are the specific usage for each of the packages.
A detailed explanation will do me a world of good.

Sorry if I'm asking for a lot here, I'm a complete noob but I want to learn more. :)
Thanks.

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Re: .deb vs Flatpak vs Snap vs AppImage: What to use when?

Post by BenTrabetere » Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:37 am

The priority I try to follow is

1. Distribution's repo, i.e. from Software Manager, (excluding flatpaks)
2. AppImage from developer's website or a trusted 3rd party.
3. Flatpaks (from Software Manager)
4. PPA from developer's launchpad page
5. .deb from developer's website
6. Trusted 3rd party PPA.

However, more often than not PPA, .deb and 3rd party PPA jump ahead of flatpak.

I do not have time to give reasons, but I will revisit.

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Re: .deb vs Flatpak vs Snap vs AppImage: What to use when?

Post by xenopeek » Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:42 am

If you don't know why you'd want a different source of a program the safe bet is you will be perfectly fine with installing programs through Software Manager and will only need to go the other routes for programs that aren't available.

The only benefits are:
- to get a program that is not already available through Software Manager
- to get a newer feature release of a program that is available through Software Manager

Update Manager handles updates for programs installed through Software Manager. As a general rule you can expect (during the lifetime of a Linux Mint release) to get security updates for your programs but not upgrades to new feature releases of said programs (Firefox is one of the exceptions). Most users just use a program and don't worry over what new features are available in a newer release of a program.

There are of course exceptions. For certain programs you may stub a toe on something and then find out the particular issue is solved in a new feature release not yet available on your Linux Mint. Depending on the severity of the issue / available workarounds you could find it worth your while to go through the hassle of getting that new feature release of a program.
Image

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Re: .deb vs Flatpak vs Snap vs AppImage: What to use when?

Post by Hoser Rob » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:19 pm

I agree with xenopeek, the repo software from SOftware Manager (I use Synaptic Package Manager usually, try it) is your best choice. It's not usualll the newest version but that doesn't usually matter with FOSS software. I don't use very many ppas etc. I use an appimage for Avidemux, no flatpaks.

SOmetimes you would definitely want a ppa or .deb file to get newer versions. Eg. for youtube-dl or clipgrab you do need them because streaming sites change their protocols constantly.

The problem with ppas and debs is that there's a lack of backwards compatibility in Linux. Installing a newer version like that may replace libraries with newer versions that will break existing apps that used the older ones. There are many, many threads here and on other Linux forums from people who have broken things doing this. If you do install via a ppa or .deb, always look at the messages you get. If it says it's going to remove something in order to install it that's a big red flag.

Appimages and flatpaks and snaps are a solution to one of the biggest issues with Linux, there are too many different packaging systems and APIs etc. Making the program portable by including basically a runtime environment is less efficient but solves that problem. However, if it contains outdated libraries there may be security issues.

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Re: .deb vs Flatpak vs Snap vs AppImage: What to use when?

Post by Mintymandy34 » Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:38 pm

BenTrabetere wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:37 am
The priority I try to follow is

1. Distribution's repo, i.e. from Software Manager, (excluding flatpaks)
2. AppImage from developer's website or a trusted 3rd party.
3. Flatpaks (from Software Manager)
4. PPA from developer's launchpad page
5. .deb from developer's website
6. Trusted 3rd party PPA.

However, more often than not PPA, .deb and 3rd party PPA jump ahead of flatpak.
Nice one, I'll follow this from now on.
BenTrabetere wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:37 am
2. AppImage from developer's website or a trusted 3rd party.
One question though, you mentioned a trusted 3rd party for AppImage.
Is there a trusted website or something that distributes AppImage packages for popular software?
xenopeek wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:42 am
Update Manager handles updates for programs installed through Software Manager. As a general rule you can expect (during the lifetime of a Linux Mint release) to get security updates for your programs but not upgrades to new feature releases of said programs (Firefox is one of the exceptions). Most users just use a program and don't worry over what new features are available in a newer release of a program.

There are of course exceptions. For certain programs you may stub a toe on something and then find out the particular issue is solved in a new feature release not yet available on your Linux Mint. Depending on the severity of the issue / available workarounds you could find it worth your while to go through the hassle of getting that new feature release of a program.
Quite an insight.
I guess, I won't need the latest version of most softwares then, I'll get only ones where the new features are worthwhile for an upgrade.
Hoser Rob wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:19 pm
The problem with ppas and debs is that there's a lack of backwards compatibility in Linux. Installing a newer version like that may replace libraries with newer versions that will break existing apps that used the older ones. There are many, many threads here and on other Linux forums from people who have broken things doing this. If you do install via a ppa or .deb, always look at the messages you get. If it says it's going to remove something in order to install it that's a big red flag.
Thanks for clearing this out, never knew debs and ppas could break existing apps, I will use AppImage, Flatpaks over debs and PPAs, Software Manager being the first priority.
Hoser Rob wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:19 pm
Appimages and flatpaks and snaps are a solution to one of the biggest issues with Linux, there are too many different packaging systems and APIs etc. Making the program portable by including basically a runtime environment is less efficient but solves that problem. However, if it contains outdated libraries there may be security issues.
Are there any advantages of using AppImages over Flatpaks or Snaps?
Are all of them portable?
I noticed an AppImage can be taken anywhere inside the home directory and launched without any hassle, but found that Flatpaks install themselves inside root directory.

Again, thanks for all the insights, helps me a lot, I use a lot of softwares, little deeper knowledge helps. :)
And is it okay for the questions I asked to be here only or should I start a new thread for individual questions?

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Re: .deb vs Flatpak vs Snap vs AppImage: What to use when?

Post by murray » Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:57 pm

I read somewhere that Flatpaks can use a lot of space because they include everything needed to run the program (eg all libraries, etc). Is this correct?

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Re: .deb vs Flatpak vs Snap vs AppImage: What to use when?

Post by Mintymandy34 » Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:20 pm

Read the same thing too, but it has its advantages.
As far as I know, which is quite a little, Flatpaks often come with their own dependencies which enable them to run hassle-free even in older versions of Mint.
The softwares available in Mint's Software Manager are curated in a way that they've max compatibility with your Linux Mint install.
However, as softwares get updated within a Mint version's lifetime, you won't get the new features, there are few exceptions though.
Hence to work with older Mint versions, say Mint 18.3, Flatpaks are a great solution cause they bring their own dependencies with themselves.
This increases the file sizes.
So, I think, it's cause of the dependencies they use.
So, my answer to your question will be, yes.
But, I'm no expert, just an avid observer. :D

The experts can surely shed a light on this. :)

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Re: .deb vs Flatpak vs Snap vs AppImage: What to use when?

Post by BenTrabetere » Wed Feb 13, 2019 2:59 am

Mintymandy34 wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:38 pm
BenTrabetere wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:37 am
2. AppImage from developer's website or a trusted 3rd party.
One question though, you mentioned a trusted 3rd party for AppImage.
Is there a trusted website or something that distributes AppImage packages for popular software?
Eh, yes, sort of. probono, the founder and lead developer of the AppImage project, has repository of AppImages. I think most of them are ones that he built, and, sadly, many of them have not been updated for a couple of years. There are two versions of this repository.
https://bintray.com/probono/AppImages
https://dl.bintray.com/probono/AppImages/

The two unofficial, 3rd party AppImages I use the ones for GIMP and Atom Editor. The GIMP AppImage is maintained by Andrea Ferrero, a long-time contributor to PIXLS.US.
https://github.com/aferrero2707/gimp-ap ... continuous

The Atom AppImage is built from a script that pulls the necessary files from the site to create an up-to-date AppImage, and I consider the person responsible for this script to be trustworthy. I would be happier if the Atom developers would offer an official AppImage, but I am not unsatisfied with using the script. You can find it at https://github.com/fusion809/atom-setup.

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Re: .deb vs Flatpak vs Snap vs AppImage: What to use when?

Post by Mintymandy34 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:27 am

BenTrabetere wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 2:59 am
Eh, yes, sort of. probono, the founder and lead developer of the AppImage project, has repository of AppImages. I think most of them are ones that he built, and, sadly, many of them have not been updated for a couple of years. There are two versions of this repository.
https://bintray.com/probono/AppImages
https://dl.bintray.com/probono/AppImages/
Thanks, thanks a lot. :)
The two unofficial, 3rd party AppImages I use the ones for GIMP and Atom Editor. The GIMP AppImage is maintained by Andrea Ferrero, a long-time contributor to PIXLS.US.
https://github.com/aferrero2707/gimp-ap ... continuous
I use GIMP a lot, this is incredibly handy.
The Atom AppImage is built from a script that pulls the necessary files from the site to create an up-to-date AppImage, and I consider the person responsible for this script to be trustworthy. I would be happier if the Atom developers would offer an official AppImage, but I am not unsatisfied with using the script. You can find it at https://github.com/fusion809/atom-setup.
One of my friends uses Atom, he didn't like the flatpak version much, he'll be a happy man. :D

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Re: .deb vs Flatpak vs Snap vs AppImage: What to use when?

Post by Hoser Rob » Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:58 am

murray wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:57 pm
I read somewhere that Flatpaks can use a lot of space because they include everything needed to run the program (eg all libraries, etc). Is this correct?
Yes and the others do too. There's no other way to get around the issues of no consistent package management/APIs etc among different distros and releases. You do lose efficiency.

I don't use much of this sort of software but I think its a good compromise. You have to realize that open source software projects aren't exactly over staffed.

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Re: .deb vs Flatpak vs Snap vs AppImage: What to use when?

Post by BenTrabetere » Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:30 am

I meant to expand on my "However, more often than not PPA, .deb and 3rd party PPA jump ahead of flatpak." comment from earlier.

Once upon a time I had as many as 15 active PPAs on my system. I never had a problem with any of them, but I was aware they could break something. Today I have whittled it down to 6 - four official PPAs (CherryTree, darktable, GIMP, LibreOffice, and MuseScore) and one 3rd party (dhor/myway). Currently, the ones for darktable and GIMP are inactive because I am running LM 18.3, and those PPAs do not do much of anything these days for anything less than LM 19.0; I will reactivate them when I upgrade to LM 19.x.

The dhor/myway PPA supports a lot of very nice photography-related applications. I added it for RawTherapee and Shutter.

I am even more selective about the .debs I use. Sometimes there is no way around it because the other avenues do not exist. XnView MP and Master PDF Editor are two that immediately come to mind. (Yes, I know there is an XnView flatpak. I tried it and do not like it.)

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Re: .deb vs Flatpak vs Snap vs AppImage: What to use when?

Post by Mintymandy34 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:57 am

BenTrabetere wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:30 am
I meant to expand on my "However, more often than not PPA, .deb and 3rd party PPA jump ahead of flatpak." comment from earlier.
To be totally honest, I didn't actually get this part in your first post, thought I would ask, but then didn't.
Now, with your explanation, I clearly understand what you initially meant.

One question if you won't mind.
How do you find official PPAs of applications, I searched through the download page of Gimp but only found flatpak and sources, never found a PPA.
How do you find it?

I find PPAs on launchpad, but I've heard that there are also third-party PPAs there, how to know if it's official?
BenTrabetere wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:30 am
The dhor/myway PPA supports a lot of very nice photography-related applications. I added it for RawTherapee and Shutter.
Added, I use RawTherapee with Gimp and Shutter a lot too.
XNView MP was my favourite photo organiser in Windows, will grab it soon. :)

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Re: .deb vs Flatpak vs Snap vs AppImage: What to use when?

Post by Hoser Rob » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:12 am

Mintymandy34 wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:57 am
... How do you find official PPAs of applications, I searched through the download page of Gimp but only found flatpak and sources, never found a PPA. ...
If there's no ppa on their own site there probably isn't an official ppa.

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Re: .deb vs Flatpak vs Snap vs AppImage: What to use when?

Post by Mintymandy34 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:18 am

Hoser Rob wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:12 am
Mintymandy34 wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:57 am
... How do you find official PPAs of applications, I searched through the download page of Gimp but only found flatpak and sources, never found a PPA. ...
If there's no ppa on their own site there probably isn't an official ppa.
Oh, okay.
I use the application's/developer's website to find PPAs. :)

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Re: .deb vs Flatpak vs Snap vs AppImage: What to use when?

Post by BenTrabetere » Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:12 am

Mintymandy34 wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:57 am
How do you find official PPAs of applications, I searched through the download page of Gimp but only found flatpak and sources, never found a PPA.
How do you find it?
My mistake. The PPA for GIMP is not an official PPA. It is maintained by Thorsten "otto" Stettin, one of the packagers for the G'MIC project.

As for finding an official PPA, to repeat what Hoser Rob said, if it is not on the application's website, it is not official.

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Re: .deb vs Flatpak vs Snap vs AppImage: What to use when?

Post by Mintymandy34 » Fri Feb 15, 2019 11:02 am

BenTrabetere wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:12 am
As for finding an official PPA, to repeat what Hoser Rob said, if it is not on the application's website, it is not official.
Thanks for all the info, esp. the sites to find AppImages, I love them.

Thank you all, should I mark this solved?

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Re: .deb vs Flatpak vs Snap vs AppImage: What to use when?

Post by BenTrabetere » Fri Feb 15, 2019 4:26 pm

Mintymandy34 wrote:
Fri Feb 15, 2019 11:02 am
Thanks for all the info, esp. the sites to find AppImages, I love them.
Happy to help. I am a big fan of AppImages. I really like how AppImage allows me to continue to use a stable version of program while test to see whether the new version is stable and works for me.

MuseScore is one of the rare projects that understands AppImage and does it right. It is worth a look if you know music notation.
https://musescore.org
Thank you all, should I mark this solved?
Yes, if you consider it solved. Just edit the Subject line of your original post.

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Re: .deb vs Flatpak vs Snap vs AppImage: What to use when?

Post by Mintymandy34 » Fri Feb 15, 2019 4:32 pm

BenTrabetere wrote:
Fri Feb 15, 2019 4:26 pm
Happy to help. I am a big fan of AppImages. I really like how AppImage allows me to continue to use a stable version of program while test to see whether the new version is stable and works for me.
That's what I really like about them.
BenTrabetere wrote:
Fri Feb 15, 2019 4:26 pm
MuseScore is one of the rare projects that understands AppImage and does it right. It is worth a look if you know music notation.
https://musescore.org
Thanks for the suggestion, I'll try this too.

One more question if you don't mind, how many AppImages do you use?
And how do you organise them?

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Re: .deb vs Flatpak vs Snap vs AppImage: What to use when?

Post by BenTrabetere » Fri Feb 15, 2019 4:56 pm

Mintymandy34 wrote:
Fri Feb 15, 2019 4:32 pm
One more question if you don't mind, how many AppImages do you use?
Here is a list of AppImages I frequently use, in no particular order. In most of these cases the application is also installed on my system. While I will use both flavors, I try to default to the AppImage.
Atom Editor *
digiKam *
GIMP *
krita
RawTherapee
XnViewMP *
kexi
LibreOffice Fresh *
Scribus *
gLabels
MineTime *
MuseScore
Shotcut
KdenLive
KeePassXC
And how to you organise them?
That's two questions. :)

I keep AppImages in a ~/AppImages folder/directory. That is the download location, and that is where I launch them. I also have a desktop folder for the ones I use most frequently (marked with an * in the list), and I place a link to the AppImage file in this folder.

I do not integrate AppImages to the system. I do not want or need the menu clutter.

I frequently launch AppImages from the command line, and I have created shortcuts that make that more convenient.

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Re: .deb vs Flatpak vs Snap vs AppImage: What to use when?

Post by Mintymandy34 » Fri Feb 15, 2019 5:15 pm

BenTrabetere wrote:
Fri Feb 15, 2019 4:56 pm

Here is a list of AppImages I frequently use, in no particular order. In most of these cases the application is also installed on my system. While I will use both flavors, I try to default to the AppImage.
Atom Editor *
digiKam *
GIMP *
krita
RawTherapee
XnViewMP *
kexi
LibreOffice Fresh *
Scribus *
gLabels
MineTime *
MuseScore
Shotcut
KdenLive
KeePassXC
Wow, that's a great list, I only currently have 5 of them, will grab the rest.
BenTrabetere wrote:
Fri Feb 15, 2019 4:56 pm
That's two questions. :)
I ask a lot of questions. :D
BenTrabetere wrote:
Fri Feb 15, 2019 4:56 pm
I keep AppImages in a ~/AppImages folder/directory. That is the download location, and that is where I launch them. I also have a desktop folder for the ones I use most frequently (marked with an * in the list), and I place a link to the AppImage file in this folder.

I do not integrate AppImages to the system. I do not want or need the menu clutter.

I frequently launch AppImages from the command line, and I have created shortcuts that make that more convenient.
Noice. :)

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