There is a new Inkscape release out! It is version 0.92 which has a lot of exciting features, my favorite being the Mesh Gradients. For this release I also worked on making a Snap package of Inkscape to make it easier for users to get the latest version.

The most exciting feature of Snaps for me as an upstream developer is how the Inkscape project can control which version users see to download on Ubuntu. Today, if someone was to open up the Software Center and install Inkscape they would get the 0.92.0 release. No other settings or configuration required. This breaks with the traditional Linux distribution model of the latest version only being available in development releases or by adding additional repositories, both of which are user hostile. For me, this is an exciting change that will hopefully make the Linux client more approachable and maintainable to a larger range of users. That’s the why, let’s talk a bit about how.

The Inkscape snap is built from a Snapcraft configuration file that is stored in the main repository (or in this case the 0.92.x branch). The configuration file tells Snapcraft which packages we want to pull in from the Ubuntu archives as dependencies and what parameters to call CMake with. Launchpad is then configured to build a snap on every commit to that branch and upload it to the Ubuntu Store in the candidate channel. When we decide the release is ready the Inkscape project can then promote the binary to the stable channel and all users will get updated to that version.

We’re also using the edge channel for our GTK+3 experimental builds on trunk. So if you’d like to start playing and testing those you can switch your Inkscape install by doing:

$ snap refresh --edge inkscape

Which is exciting, but can also break often. Hopefully this will allow users who are interested in testing the bleeding edge builds without having to build their own versions of Inkscape.

I’m excited about the way that Snaps bring a direction connection from upstreams to users in a way that hasn’t existed on the Free Software Desktop to date. No complication but provided in a safe, recreatable manner without configuring encryption keys and special archives. We’re living in the future.

posted Jan 4, 2017 | permanent link