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How to make Snaps easier to install on Elementary OS with Snaptastic

Elementary OS doesn’t officially support Snap packages out of the box on their latest Juno release. The reason for the lack of support is that Snaps don’t fit into the Elementary style. Understandably, developers have preferences for what technologies they choose to support. So if you’re on Elementary OS and want to use Snaps, you’ll have to resort to third-party tools like Snaptastic.

What is Snaptastic? It’s an Elementary-focused program that takes the headaches out of setting up Ubuntu Snap packages from the command-line and replaces it with a thoughtful, easy to use GUI interface that matches the Elementary OS aesthetic. Here’s how to get it working on your system.

Setting up Snaps on Elementary OS

Elementary OS Juno does not have Snap packages enabled out of the box, and if you try to use any of the snap commands in a terminal, you’ll be disappointed. So, before attempting to set up the Snaptastic tool, Snap support must be enabled on Elementary OS.

Note: in this guide, we’ll be focusing on Elementary OS Juno, but this guide should also work for future versions.

The first step in enabling Snap support on Elementary OS is to install the actual Snap software. To do this, open up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T. Then, once the terminal window is open, enter the following command to install the Snap package software on your system.

sudo apt install snapd

Once the software is done installing through the package manager, everything should be ready to use. Run the snap refresh command in the terminal to check if the system is working. If something is wrong, try rebooting the computer.

Install Snaptastic

With the Snap software backend installed and enabled on Elementary OS, it’s time to get around to installing the Snaptastic program. There are two ways to set up this app. The first way is to get it directly through AppCenter. The second way is to build it from the source code. We’ll be covering both in this guide.

AppCenter

Snaptastic is available in the AppCenter app store on all Elementary OS installations. So, if you’re not the type of person to compile source code, this is a great way to get the app.

To install Snaptastic, open up the AppCenter app, search for “snaptastic,” set your price, and install it by clicking the “install” button.

Source Code

AppCenter is nice, but not for everyone. If you’d prefer to build the program yourself, here’s what to do. To start, open up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. Then, use the commands below to install the program dependencies necessary to build the app.

sudo apt install elementary-sdk git valac meson libgtk-3-dev libgranite-dev libsnapd-glib-dev -y

With the dependencies taken care of, use the git clone command to clone the latest source code of Snaptastic down from GitHub.

git clone https://github.com/bartzaalberg/snaptastic.git

Once the code is done downloading to your Elementary OS PC, use the CD command to move the terminal session into the “snaptastic” directory.

cd snaptastic

Using the meson command, set the build environment prefix to “user.”

meson build --prefix=/usr

Move into the “build” directory using the CD command.

cd build

Run the ninja command to build the program.

ninja

Install the program with:

sudo ninja install

When the Snaptastic application is installed, update the database files so that you’ll be able to install Snaps from the browser.

sudo update-desktop-database /usr/share/applications

Using Snaptastic

Snaptastic isn’t an app store per se, and it doesn’t allow users to search for Snap apps to easily install within the interface. That said, it can handle Snap packages and install them directly from Snap files, and the Snapcraft website (which is arguably simpler than an app store.)

To use Snaptastic to install Snap apps, start by opening the program. From there, go to the Snapcraft website, and click on the “Store” button at the top of the website.

Once you’ve selected “Store,” locate the search box that says “search thousands of apps,” and write in the name of the Snap app you’d like to install.

Look through the search results that appear, and click on the app in the list to go to its dedicated Snapcraft app page. From there, find the green “Install” button and click on it. Then, after selecting the “Install” button, locate the “View in Desktop store” button and select it. Tell your web browser to open up the link inside of Snaptastic.

With the Snap app opened inside of Snaptastic, select the “Install” button to start the installation. Repeat this process to install as many Snap apps as you’d like.

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