The Feren OS Dev wrote a good article on the topic:
Personally i’m still parsing out how I feel about the topic so i’m lucky for people willing to deep dive, there’s a heap of good points on both ends though i’m erring on the side of Mint. This topic’s also coming in a TWinL episode.
I think the key is the context. While Mint’s about page doesn’t quite cover it…
in my opinion Linux Mint is geared toward the less OS technical end of the Linux crowd while still providing the full stack to it’s technical users. In particular it’s what’s made Mint one of the best recommendations for new users. Ubuntu’s the same though obviously they have a massive technical crowd resulting from the amount of support they pour in.
Mint’s context is how Ubuntu’s changes will relate to their users. Users who’ll morso be prone to installing first and asking questions later. Quick aside: This being the exact same behavior we all did when we were new and shouldn’t be confused with “not caring”. The truth is 100% of us care about, yet know almost nothing about, an immeasurable amount of things we depend on. Trust ≠ not caring.
So even though it’s relatively upfront to a technical user via dependencies, blog posts, ect that Ubuntu is switching the behavior of the apt namespace to instead install snapd as a wrapper even though it’s already in the Snap store, it won’t be intuitive to a lot of Linux Mint users who’d otherwise understand if they were explicitly installing Chromium as a Snap.
Is the term “back door” a bit much? Yes, but to a new user being switched to a new software eco system without them explicitly installing or using that eco system to begin the installation, it’s not intuitive. It’s loosely similar to how Windows used their update service to start pushing Win10 and in some instances moved people over unless they were very careful. That was not a back door, but it was abuse of how users expected the front door to work.
This might be a naive question but if Chromium is available in the Snap store, why is Ubuntu replacing the apt namespace? If the problem of packaging and distributing Chromium in an accessible way is already solved, isn’t this extra step purely about corralling users who already have their chosen developers giving them a heads up via the GUI?
I don’t see how blocking snapd in a way that’s easy to undo is a problem until Ubuntu is no longer corralling users into installing it, it seems like a justifiable stand for Mint to take on behalf of their demographic (lets not forget the proprietary nature of Snaps) though I think a lot is lost in translation when they’re saying why.
Just some thoughts, eagerly absorbing the debate,