Get a Better Instant Package Manager With This GNOME Extension


If your desktop of choice is GNOME and you use snap packages, Jack Wallen thinks this handy extension is a must.

Image: Pegasu Studio/Shutterstock

Snap packages are another technology that has proven to be somewhat divisive. From my point of view, bot snap and flatpak have made it possible to install applications on linux which were not available before. And given how easy it is to install apps with snap, this package management system should be hailed by most as a way to help those unfamiliar with Linux upgrade faster.

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The thing about snap, however, is that it’s all a command-line experience. Yes, you can install the snap-store snap package (which adds a powerful and user-friendly GUI to the mix), but updating snap packages quickly is still a bit of a hassle.

That’s when you turn to a handy GNOME desktop extension that makes it easy to quickly manage your installed snap packages. In fact, anyone using snap packages on the GNOME desktop should consider this extension a must-have.

What is this extension for? From a convenient drop-down menu on the desktop, you can perform actions such as:

  • List all installed snaps.
  • List recent snapshot changes.
  • List available instant refreshes (updates).
  • Refresh (update) installed snaps.
  • Install the snaps.
  • Remove snaps.
  • Enable/disable snaps.
  • Maintain all updates (updates).

Let’s install this extension and see how it is used.

What you will need

To use this extension, you will need a desktop Linux distribution that supports snap (like Ubuntu and Pop!_OS), uses the GNOME desktop, and the Firefox web browser.

How to install the Snap Manager

To install the Snap Manager extension, open Firefox and point it to the Snap Manager page on the GNOME Extensions site. You should see an ON/OFF slider associated with the application (Figure A).

Figure A

The Snap Manager listing on the GNOME Extensions page.
The Snap Manager listing on the GNOME Extensions page.

Click the ON/OFF slider until it is in the ON position and, when prompted, click Install. The installation should go smoothly.

How to use the Snap Manager extension

Once the installation is complete, you should find a new icon in your top bar system tray. Click this icon to display the Snap Manager menu (Figure B).

Figure B

The Snap Manager context menu.
The Snap Manager context menu.

Let’s say you want to check if there are any refreshes (updates) for your installed snaps. Click the icon, then click List available instant refreshes. This will open your default terminal window and run the command snap refresh --list. If there are snaps to update, they will be listed. If there is no instant refresh available, you can just press any key to close the terminal (Figure C).

Figure C

No instant updates are available at this time.
No instant updates are available at this time.

If you click Install Snap-in, a new terminal window will open asking for the name of the snap-in package to install (Figure D).

Figure D

Installing a snap with the Snap Manager extension.
Installing a snap with the Snap Manager extension.

Why it’s useful

I get it, Snap isn’t the most popular package manager in the Linux landscape. But for those who use an Ubuntu-based distro and work with that system, you’d be sorry if you didn’t add Snap Manager to your GNOME extensions. I’ve been using this extension with pleasure for some time and it has improved my experience with Snap tremendously. Try this extension and see if it doesn’t help convince you of Snap.

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