Developers that have published snap packages to Ubuntu Software can now leverage progressive releases to ensure a smoother update experience for users. With progressive releases, the developer can select which portion of machines will receive the update and then if they get negative feedback due to issues, they can address those issues before expanding the update to other users.
According to the announcement on the Ubuntu Blog, publishers of snaps will be able to set the exact percentage of machines they want to receive the latest update. As they grow more confident that the update is OK they can steadily increase this percentage until everyone is updated.
Publishers of snaps can refer to the progressive releases documentation to learn more about the commands they need to use to progressively release updates. After selecting a target of devices you’d like to get the update, you are able to track the progress towards this target and look out for any reported issues.
You can see the dashboard for progressive releases below, notice the release progress section where you can see the target compared to the actual progress.
The progressive release update for snaps comes just a few months after the snapd package was updated to handle snap updates differently. In the past, snaps used to send notifications telling you to restart the app within the next so many days otherwise the app would refresh automatically.
This nagging has now gone, snaps instead download and pre-initialize the updates in the background and the new version is then used the next time the app is launched or after a system reboot. These changes landed as part of snapd 2.59 - you can check which version you’re on in the Terminal by typing snap --version.
At the end of May, Canonical revealed that it would like to bring an immutable Ubuntu Core to the desktop and would rely heavily on snaps. If this is the future of Ubuntu, it’s at least nice to see that the company is making half-decent improvements to snaps.