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Snaps on Gentoo

August 12, 2018 — Jesse Harris

Update 07/09/2019

Snapd is now in a overlay on it's on for your convenience. See here


The instructions to get snaps working on gentoo here are outdated. See my current post Snaps on Gentoo - The saga continues


Many will think it is heresy to put binary packages on a Gentoo system let alone a package system which encourages binary packages to come with their own set of shared libraries.

While I tend to agree, the practicality of sticking to this arrangement can be difficult for a couple of cases. Here are a few I can think of:

  • Source not available
  • No binary package or source ebuild for Gentoo
  • ebuild takes too long to compile

In the case of ebuilds taking too long (eg. chromium), I have a limited budget and can't really afford to leave my power hungry desktop on 24/7 to keep chromium builds up-to-date.

Here are a quick list of software that I use which fall into one of these categories:

  • Citrix Reciever
  • Powershell (Available as source, but no ebuild and I haven't had the time to try write one myself)
  • Minecraft (Gaming with the kids)
  • Discord (Chatting with games)
  • Chromium (Primarily a firefox user, but have some trouble with getting it to see and work with Citrix)

With my excuses for putting snap's on Gentoo out of the way, here is how I've got it working for my systems.


There are a few overlay's for Gentoo out there. Even an official one maintained (or as the case may be, unmaintained) by zyga from Canonical. I tried that one, and many of the forks with no such luck.

After googling around I stumbled on a thread on snapcraft.io and a post from user jamesb192 about the progress on their snapd overlay.

JamesB192 overlay works, but it doesn't have an overlay.xml file for adding with layman. To overcome this, I've hosted one on my site here. You can add this to your system using overlay like this:

        echo app-portage/layman git >> /etc/portage/package.use/layman
        emerge app-portage/layman
        layman -o http://jesseharrisit.com/overlay.xml -f -a gentoo-zigford

Now that you have the overlay installed should be able to emerge snapd like so:

        emerge app-emulation/snapd

Note - You may need to adjust your kernel config and the ebuild is pretty good at highlighting which options need to be set.


During my testing of snaps on Gentoo, I've come across a couple of issues that either have been solved or could be solved in the ebuild

  1. snap packages only install and run as root (This was solved by setting suid on /usr/lib64/snapd/snap-confine, and solved in ebuild 2.34)
  2. /var/lib/snapd not created (manually mkdir the directory)

Final thoughts.

Snap packages feel like a great augmentation for Gentoo. It allows me to keep using Gentoo as a daily driver and augment some of it's missing packages with packages from more popular distros.

Tags: gentoo, snapd, overlay