A snap is a squashfs file carrying content and a bit of metadata that tells the system how to manipulate it. When installed the squashfs file is mounted read-only under
This means fast and extremely predictable installations, with no leftovers and no way for the content to be mutated over traditional means. Either it’s all installed and available as originally built, or it is not available at all.
Applications declared in the snap become commands at
/snap/bin/<snap name>[.<app name>]
The suffix is omitted if
<app name> matches
<snap name>. That file is not the actual application, though, but rather a command that will trigger the real application to be run under the proper isolation and confinement rules, based on the default restricted environment plus any allowances granted to it via the interface system.
The following files control the behavior of a snap:
meta/snap.yaml - Basic snap details (see below).
meta/hooks/ - Hooks called on specific events (see below).
meta/gui/icon.svg - Icon for the snap.
meta/gui/*.desktop - Desktop files for the snap (see below).
Every snap package contains a
meta/snap.yaml file that holds the basic metadata for the snap.
Please take note of this important distinction:
snap.yaml - Lives inside every snap package, read by snapd.
snapcraft.yaml - Instructions to create a snap package, read by snapcraft.
Most of the content supported in snap.yaml is optional. In fact, the simplest snap possible may have as little as this inside
A snap that offers an application to run is still very simple:
command: bin/hello --world
The following specification defines what is supported inside it:
# The suggested snap name, constrained to the [a-z0-9] charset and inner
# dashes. The final name when the snap is installed is defined by the
# snap-declaration assertion associated with the snap, if any.
# An optional title for the snap, may contain uppercase letters and spaces.
# Version of the software packed inside the snap. Has no semantic value
# in the system (no greater/lower-than rules are ever applied to it).
# More details about what is contained in the snap.
# License for the snap content, based on SPDX license expressions.
# Type of snap, defaults to "app".
type: app | core | gadget | kernel | base
# List of architectures the snap may run on. Defaults to [all].
- all | amd64 | i386 | armhf | ...
# The base snap that defines the underlying filesystem this snap
# will be assembled on top of.
# List of applications (commands, binaries, daemons) in the snap.
# Path to executable (relative to snap base) and arguments to use
# when this application is run.
command: <command line>
# Path to a bash snippet to use for tab completion.
# (snapcraft 2.33+, snapd 2.30+)
# See https://forum.snapcraft.io/t/2261
completer: <path to file>
# List of plug names this application is associated with.
# When a plug is connected to one of these slots, this application
# will be granted the permissions specified for that interface.
# If attributes are required or the plug name does not match the
# interface name, more details must be declared under the top-level
# "plugs" field (see below).
- <plug name>
# List of slot names this application is associated with.
# Same details as described above, but for slots.
- <slot name>
# If daemon is set, the command is a daemon to run as specified.
# See systemd documentation for details on those kinds.
daemon: simple | forking | oneshot | notify
# Optional command to use for stopping a daemon.
stop-command: <command line>
# Optional time to wait for daemon to stop.
stop-timeout: <n>ns | <n>us | <n>ms | <n>s | <n>m
# Optional command to run after daemon stops.
post-stop-command: <command line>
# Condition to restart the daemon under. Defaults to on-failure.
# See the systemd.service manual on Restart for details.
on-failure | on-success | on-abnormal | on-abort | always | never
# Command to use to ask the service to reload its configuration.
# In the absence of this, when asked to reload (e.g. via
# `snap restart --reload snap.app`) the service is restarted instead.
reload-command: <command line>
Hooks provide a mechanism for snapd to alert snaps that something has happened, or to ask the snap to provide its opinion about an operation that is in progress. See the topic on supported hooks for more details.
Interfaces allow snaps to communicate or share resources according to the protocol established by the interface and play an important part in security policy configuration.
meta/gui/ directory (
snap/gui/ with snapcraft) may contain
*.desktop files for the snap. Those desktop files may contain all valid desktop entries from the XDG Desktop Entry Specification version 1.1 with some exceptions listed below. Lines with unknown keys are silently removed from the desktop file on install.
Exec= line must necessarily look like the following to be valid:
Exec=<snap name>[.<app name>] [<argument> ...]
As in the executables contained under
.<app name> suffix is omitted if the application name and snap name are the same.
For example, assuming this content in
This desktop file is valid:
Unsupported desktop keys
Implements keys are currently not supported and will be silently removed from the desktop file on install.