What Is the Difference Between Snap and APT? A Comprehensive Comparison

Difference Between Snap and APT

When it comes to software package management on Ubuntu systems, there are two primary options – Snap and APT. Both approaches offer distinct advantages and disadvantages that are worth considering when selecting the package manager that fits your needs.

APT (Advanced Package Tool) is the traditional package manager used on Ubuntu. It’s a command-line tool that installs, updates and removes software packages from the Ubuntu repository. With APT, you have access to a vast number of packages that have been thoroughly tested, ensuring a stable and reliable operating system.

Snap, on the other hand, is a containerized package management system designed to run any application on any Linux distribution, including Ubuntu. The core idea behind Snap is that developers can build and distribute their software without worrying about compatibility issues or the underlying system. Snap packages are self-contained and include all the dependencies necessary to run the software, providing better security and flexibility.

In summary, while APT remains the tried and tested package manager for Ubuntu systems, Snap provides a modern, adaptable option that allows for more granular software management. Ultimately, whichever package manager you choose will depend on your specific needs and preferences.

Key Differences Between Snap and APT

Ubuntu APT and Snap are two package managers that make it easy to install, manage, and update software on the Ubuntu operating system. While both are designed to fulfill a similar purpose, there are several key differences between Snap and APT. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • Installation and dependency management: One of the main differences between Snap and APT is how they handle installations and dependencies. APT uses a system-wide repository where packages are downloaded and installed, and any dependencies must be explicitly installed through APT. In contrast, Snap packages are self-sufficient, meaning they include all the dependencies required to run applications. This means Snap packages can be installed on any Linux distribution, not just Ubuntu, and can be updated independently of the rest of the system.
  • Security: Snap packages are sandboxed, which means they run in a protected environment that prevents them from accessing other parts of the system. This provides an additional layer of security against malicious software and helps ensure that applications don’t interfere with each other. On the other hand, while APT packages can also be updated with security patches, they don’t have the same level of isolation as Snap packages.
  • Ease of use: Snap packages are easier to use than APT packages because they are distributed as individual software packages with all their dependencies. This makes it simple to install them with a single command, and they are typically ready to use immediately after installation. In contrast, APT packages often require additional configuration and may need to be integrated with other software components.
  • Updates: Snap and APT handle package updates differently. With APT, users need to run a separate command to update packages, and they will typically receive updates for all installed packages at once. Snap, in contrast, automatically updates packages in the background when a new version is available, ensuring that users are always running the latest version.

In conclusion, both Snap and APT have their strengths and weaknesses, and the choice ultimately comes down to the user’s needs and preferences. Ubuntu APT is a great choice for those who want to rely on the established system-wide repo and are comfortable with additional configuration and dependency management. Snap Ubuntu, on the other hand, is an excellent choice for users who prioritize security, ease of use, and independence from the system’s dependencies.

Understanding Snap

Snap is a package management system developed by Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, for Linux-based systems. The system is designed to simplify the installation and management of software on Linux systems, and it differs significantly from the traditional Ubuntu APT system.

Some of the key advantages of Snap over APT are:

  • Snap packages are self-contained, which means that they include all the dependencies required to run the software. This eliminates the need for manual dependency resolution, which can be complex and time-consuming with APT.
  • Snap packages are also isolated from the rest of the system, which reduces the risk of conflicts with other packages or system components. This makes it easier to experiment with new software without worrying about breaking your system.
  • Snap packages are designed to be more secure than traditional packages because they are confined and sandboxed. This means that they have limited access to the system resources and can only access the resources that they need to run.
  • Snap packages are updated automatically, which means that you always have the latest version of the software without needing to run manual updates as with APT.

However, there are also some disadvantages to using Snap that you should be aware of. For example:

  • Snap packages can be larger than traditional packages because they include all the dependencies required to run the software. This can lead to longer download and installation times, and it can also consume more disk space.
  • Snap packages may not be available for all software, especially for software that is not open source or that is not maintained by the Ubuntu community.
  • Snap packages may not always be as stable as traditional packages since they are updated more frequently. This can be an issue if you rely on a particular version of the software for your work.

Understanding APT

APT, or Advanced Package Tool, is a package management system that has been the staple of Debian-based distributions like Ubuntu for a long time. The APT system is used to manage the installation, removal, and update of software packages in Linux systems.

APT is a command-line tool that uses a set of built-in commands to manage software, and it works by downloading and installing packages from one or more software repositories. These repositories contain a collection of packages that are maintained and updated by the distribution.

While APT has been the traditional tool for managing packages in Ubuntu, Snap has emerged as a promising alternative. Snap is a software packaging system that allows the software to be installed and run in a secure and isolated environment, with all its dependencies bundled inside.

One of the main benefits of Snap is that it offers a more consistent way of delivering software across different Linux distributions. Unlike APT, which is specific to Debian-based distributions, Snap packages can run on any Linux distribution that supports them.

Moreover, Snap provides better isolation and security than APT. Snap packages are self-contained and sandboxed, which means that they cannot affect the system outside their sandbox. APT, on the other hand, installs packages system-wide, which can pose a risk if the package is compromised or malicious.

However, APT still has some advantages over Snap. One of them is that APT provides a wider and more established repository of packages. This means that you are more likely to find the software you need in APT than in Snap. Moreover, APT has been around for a long time and is well-tested and stable, with a large community of contributors and users.

Package Management

When it comes to package management in Ubuntu, APT has been the go-to solution for many years. APT stands for Advanced Package Tool, which is a command-line tool used to manage software packages on Ubuntu and Debian-based Linux systems. It’s powerful, fast, and reliable, but it has a few drawbacks, including the need to manually add repositories to sources.list and the lack of support for newer applications.

This is where Snap comes in. Snap is a new package management system that was introduced in Ubuntu 16.04. It has been gaining popularity in recent years due to its ease of use and wide range of features. Unlike the traditional Ubuntu APT, Snap doesn’t rely on packages and dependencies bundled into the operating system, instead, it packages applications with their dependencies, which makes it easier to install and manage them.

One of the main advantages of Snap over Ubuntu APT is that it provides a “sandbox” environment in which applications can run. This means that they are isolated from the rest of the system and the libraries they depend on are bundled with them. This makes it easier to install, run, and upgrade software, especially for developers who frequently work on different projects or need to test a particular application without affecting the rest of their system. With Ubuntu APT, dependencies can often cause conflicts, which in turn, can break applications or even the entire system.

Another benefit of Snap is that it provides automatic updates. Once an application is installed as a Snap package, it automatically updates itself when a new release is published. This means that you don’t need to manually update anything or worry about missing security updates. This makes Snap a potentially safer option for newer users who are not familiar with the intricacies of package management or updating their software.


One of the major differences between Ubuntu APT and Snap is the handling of dependencies. When using APT to install a package on Ubuntu, the package manager checks the system for required dependencies and downloads them from the Ubuntu repository. This can lead to bloated installations, as multiple versions of the same dependency may be installed for different software, and older versions are rarely cleaned up.

On the other hand, Snap packages include all of their dependencies and are isolated from the system. This ensures that the package runs as intended, regardless of the library version installed on the system. This approach also allows multiple versions of the same dependency to exist on the system, which can aid compatibility with different software versions.

However, this isolation approach also results in larger package sizes than APT, as the package includes all dependencies. Furthermore, installing Snap packages may take longer than APT packages, especially on slower internet connections, due to the increased package size.

In addition, the use of specific programming languages or toolkits can affect how Snap and APT behave with regard to dependencies. For example, Snap has done extensive development work on Python support, although Snap currently supports packages developed in multiple programming languages.

To summarize, Snap and Ubuntu APT have different approaches to handling dependencies, with Snap including all dependencies and APT fetching dependencies from the repository. Benefits of the Snap approach include easy isolation of dependencies and the ability to run multiple versions of the same dependency, although this comes at the cost of increased package size and longer installation times. Ultimately, the choice between Snap and APT may depend on specific software requirements and use cases.

Installation and Updates

Snap and APT offer distinct installation and update mechanisms on Ubuntu. With APT, users can install traditional Debian packages using standard repository sources. Snap, on the other hand, utilizes sets of compressed files, including the binary code, the libraries, and other components required to run the app.

APT is the native and most commonly used package management system on Ubuntu, with packages that are tested and maintained by the Ubuntu community. Using APT, users can install applications at a system level comfortably.

Snap Ubuntu, on the other hand, offers a newer and more secure alternative for installing software on Ubuntu. Snaps come with a more excellent level of security by applying application sandboxing and containerization. This approach attempts to prevent malware from impacting the host system. Snap also provides an automatic update mechanism that automatically updates the software to the latest stable version without requiring user interaction.

APT requires users to update their systems manually; however, it does not use much storage space compared to Snaps since they share many common libraries across multiple applications.

Snaps, in contrast, offer full system updates that do not modify the underlying system libraries or configuration files. This makes updates less risky and faster since it only updates the Snap rather than the entire system.

Overall, both APT and Snap have their advantages and disadvantages. APT is more established, offers more efficient use of system resources, and is ideal for more technically inclined users. Snap Ubuntu is more modern, secure, and autonomous, and is suitable for users who prioritize security and convenience.

User Experience

When it comes to user experience, there are some notable differences between Snap and APT.

First, let’s talk about Snap. Snap is Ubuntu’s package management system, which allows for easy installation of software packages. With Snap, you get self-contained software packages that work seamlessly across different systems. One major advantage of Snap is that it isolates packages from the rest of the system, so you don’t have to worry about dependency issues. Plus, Snap packages are easy to install and update via the command line.

On the other hand, the traditional Ubuntu APT package management system can be a bit more cumbersome. While APT is a very powerful package manager, finding and installing the right packages can be challenging, especially for beginners. It can be difficult to keep track of dependencies and conflicts between packages. However, APT offers a wider selection of packages than Snap and has been the default package manager for Ubuntu for many years.

In terms of updates, Snap and APT both offer automatic updates. However, with Snap, you can choose whether to automatically update every package or just certain ones. With APT, you can set up automatic updates for security patches and other critical updates, but you will need to manually update other packages.

Another thing to consider is the availability of packages. While Snap packages are growing in popularity, there are still more packages available through APT. However, this gap is closing quickly as more and more developers embrace Snap packaging.

Overall, if you are new to Linux or Ubuntu and want a simple, hassle-free way to install software packages, Snap is the way to go. However, if you are a more advanced user and need access to a wider selection of packages or more granular control over updates, APT may be the better option.

Snap APT
Self-contained software packages Dependent on the system version
Easy to install and update Can be cumbersome to find and install packages
Automatic updates for specific packages Automatic updates for security patches, manual updates for other packages
Growing package availability Largely more packages are available

In the end, the decision between Snap and APT will depend on your personal preferences and needs. Whether you choose Snap or APT, Ubuntu has you covered with two solid package management options.

Supported Platforms

When it comes to the difference between Snap and APT, one important aspect to consider is the supported platforms. APT is the default package manager used in most Debian-based Linux distributions, including Ubuntu. Snap, on the other hand, is a relatively new package manager introduced by Canonical in 2014.

While both Snap and APT are supported on Ubuntu, they have different approaches to managing packages and dependencies. APT uses a centralized repository of pre-built packages and relies on shared system libraries and dependencies to minimize duplication. This means that APT can be more efficient in terms of disk space and memory usage. However, it also means that packages can become outdated or conflicting if not properly managed.

Snap, on the other hand, uses a containerized approach to package management, meaning that each package contains all the necessary dependencies and libraries it needs to run independently. This allows for greater flexibility and isolation, making it possible to run multiple versions of the same package on the same system. However, this also means that Snap packages can take up more disk space and memory compared to APT packages.

When it comes to platform support, Snap has a broader range of options compared to APT. While APT is limited to Debian-based distributions, Snap is supported on a variety of Linux distributions, including CentOS, Fedora, Arch, and OpenSUSE. Additionally, Snap can also run on other operating systems like Windows and macOS, though with limited support.

In conclusion, the difference between Snap and APT in terms of platform support lies in their approach to package management and dependency handling. While APT is more efficient and streamlined within the Ubuntu ecosystem, Snap offers more flexibility and a broader range of support across different Linux distributions and even non-Linux operating systems.


When considering the security differences between Snap and APT, it’s important to understand their fundamental differences. Ubuntu APT works by using a central repository to manage packages and dependencies. This means that every package that is installed on the system has been downloaded and verified from this central repository.

Snap, on the other hand, uses containerization to package the application with its dependencies in a self-contained environment that runs as a sandbox. This sandboxing approach provides additional security by limiting the application’s access and ability to affect the system, which makes it an attractive solution for developers who place a high priority on security.

One major advantage of using Snap over Ubuntu APT is the secure sandboxed environment that Snap provides. This approach greatly reduces the risk of any vulnerabilities in the application affecting other parts of the system or other applications running on the system. With Snap, you can be confident that any package you install has gone through strict security checks, which were implemented to detect, prevent, and respond to any security issues that might arise.

APT and Snap both have security features, but their mechanisms are entirely different. APT provides a central secure repository for packages to be verified before installation, while Snap provides a self-contained sandboxed environment where applications can run and access limited parts of the system. However, because security is a very broad concept, it’s important to understand that each approach has its advantages and limitations.


After examining the differences between Snap and APT, it is clear that each package manager has its own strengths and use cases. We’ll summarize our findings below:

  • Snap is a relatively new package manager developed by Canonical and Ubuntu. It provides a universal packaging system that is designed to work across different Linux distributions. Snap packages are self-contained, so they include all the necessary dependencies and libraries needed to run. Snap also enables developers to provide updated versions of their software to users faster than traditional package managers like APT.
  • On the other hand, APT is a long-standing package manager used in various Linux distributions including Ubuntu. It’s a package management system designed to install and manage software packages through a network of software repositories. Unlike Snap, APT uses shared libraries, which means that only the necessary dependencies are installed for each application.
  • Snap packages are sandboxed, which means that they’re isolated from the rest of the system, providing an extra level of security. In contrast, APT packages have access to the full range of system resources and can interact with the other installed packages.
  • While Snap seems to be a better option for newer, updated versions of applications, APT remains crucial for day-to-day maintenance and upgrades of operating and system software.

Ubuntu APT and Snap Ubuntu function differently and fulfill different purposes. They can work together and users can have both installed on their systems, with the choice of which to use depending on the application they wish to install.

Overall, for an up-to-date take on software packages and apps, Snap is the way to go, while APT remains essential for OS and system software updates and maintenance.

Marshall Anthony is a professional Linux DevOps writer with a passion for technology and innovation. With over 8 years of experience in the industry, he has become a go-to expert for anyone looking to learn more about Linux.

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