Manually applying a snap package update

Snap is a convenient way to install containerised applications. Like all package management systems it has it's flaws, but sees widespread use (in particular on Ubuntu derived distros).

There's a little known feature of Snap that's started catching people out though. Snap has the ability to force updates, and will push notifications about a forthcoming attempt to do so.

Pending update of "signal-desktop snap"

Although this feature was actually introduced back in 2019, it's still not particularly well received at times.

Misleading Notification

One concern is that the notification is quite misleading and doesn't really give a clear indication of what the user is supposed to do

Pending update of "signal-desktop" snap

Close the app to avoid disruption (7 days left)

The call to action seems to suggest (particularly to those familiar with things like AWS degraded instance notifications) that you can avoid the disruption of a forced update by closing the app and re-opening it.

But, this isn't the case. On relaunch, the app will be running the same version and notifications will continue unabated.

It is, however, possible (desirable, even) to update (or, in snap parlance: refresh) the package/application manually rather than waiting for the scheduled update.

This documentation details the (simple) process to refresh a snap package on linux.

Updating a snap

Exit whatever application it is that you're intending to update, and open a shell.

Become root

sudo -i

List your current snaps

snap list

This will give you output that looks a little like this

Name               Version                     Rev    Tracking       Publisher     Notes
0ad                0.0.25b-alpha               354    latest/stable  play0ad✓      -
authy              2.2.0                       10     latest/edge    twilio-authy  -
bare               1.0                         5      latest/stable  canonical✓    base
chromium           103.0.5060.53               2020   latest/stable  canonical✓    -
core18             20220428                    2409   latest/stable  canonical✓    base
core20             20220527                    1518   latest/stable  canonical✓    base
gnome-3-28-1804    3.28.0-19-g98f9e67.98f9e67  161    latest/stable  canonical✓    -
gnome-3-38-2004    0+git.891e5bc               112    latest/stable  canonical✓    -
gtk-common-themes  0.1-81-g442e511             1535   latest/stable  canonical✓    -
openra             release-20210321            1359   latest/stable  diddledani    -
signal-desktop     5.38.0                      386    latest/stable  snapcrafters  -
snapd              2.56                        16010  latest/stable  canonical✓    snapd

Make a note of which version you're currently running (so for signal-desktop it's 5.38.0)

Issue the refresh command

snap refresh signal-desktop

Then run list again

snap list

and verify that the version has increased.

signal-desktop     5.46.0                      388    latest/stable  snapcrafters  -

Re-launch your app, and the notifications should no longer appear.