Base snaps

A base snap is a special kind of snap that provides a run-time environment with a minimal set of libraries that are common to most applications. They’re transparent to users, but they need to be considered and specified when building a snap.

Supported base snaps

There are currently six supported bases:

Older releases of core were occasionally referred to as core 16, but core and core16 are now two distinct packages.

In most Ubuntu bases (except core), snapd and its associated tools are provided by their relevant snaps.


core16 should no longer be used. With no current stable release, its beta and candidate releases are classed as experimental, and packages previously using it should be moved to a more recent base.

Defining a base

Bases are defined by adding the base keyword to a snap’s snapcraft.yaml followed by the base name.

For example, to specify core20, use the following:

base: core20

To specify core22, use the following

base: core22

Deprecated base snaps

The latest releases of Snapcraft do not support older bases. Prior major Snapcraft releases are still supported and can be installed from Snapcraft’s tracks.


To build core18 snaps, install snapcraft 7 from the 7.x track:

$ snap install snapcraft --channel 7.x


To build core snaps, install snapcraft 4 from the 4.x track:

$ snap install snapcraft --channel 4.x

For snaps using core, we highly recommend reading Snapcraft and Extended Security Maintenance for essential support details.

The base snap mounts itself as the root filesystem within your snap such that when your application runs, the base’s library paths are searched directly after the paths for your specific snap.


Compatibility mode and ESM Support

When building a snap with no specified base, Snapcraft will operate in compatibility mode. This is essentially a prior (2.43-era) version of Snapcraft and, consequently, snapcraft will lose the functionality of newer releases. See Features incompatible with bases for details.

This compatibility mode is no longer supported starting in Snapcraft 5.0. Snapcraft 4 can be installed from the 4.x track on the Snap Store (snap install snapcraft --channel 4.x). See Snapcraft and Extended Security Maintenance for essential support details.

Choosing a base

core22 is the currently recommended base for the majority of snaps. But much like choosing a distribution base for a project or server, the best base for an application is dependent on an application’s requirements and which plugins or extensions a base supports. If there are specific dependencies that cannot be easily met with core22 then core20 is a valid and supported alternative.

Snapcraft extensions are a great way to easily bundle a set of common requirements into a snap, such as for running KDE Plasma or GNOME applications, but you need to select a base that’s supported by the extension you require. See Supported extensions for a list of which extensions support which bases.

Base support was added with the release of Snapcraft 3. As noted above, snaps created before this, and snaps not using the base: keyword, can still be built but they cannot use specific new features. Instead, snaps built without bases inherit attributes from their respective build environments.

Snaps that don’t use bases can often migrate to one without too much difficulty. See Upgrading snapcraft for more details on potential differences.

Building a base snap

While it is possible to build your own base snap, its publisher needs to take responsibility for its maintenance and updates. In particular:

  • bases need to be built from stable packages
  • ABI compatibility cannot broken (ie. never replace symbols or libraries, and be strict)
  • security updates must be pro-active

Base snaps can be either bootable or non-bootable. The former needs to include systemd while the latter can be leaner.


The base keyword on its own does not take into account the creation of bases. Instead, with older versions of snapcraft, the name keyword was arbitrarily used to determine the build environment:

name: core18
type: base
# base: is not set elsewhere 

The above example uses name to specify the creation of an Ubuntu 18.04 (core18) based build environment.

But the above fails if a base has yet to be bootstrapped, or is otherwise unavailable. For example, the following will currently generate a `launch failed: Unable to find an image matching “futurecore” error:

name: futurecore
type: base
# base: is not set elsewhere 

In snapcraft 7 and newer, a build-base keyword can be used to explicitly define the base to use for the build environment where the base has not yet been bootstrapped.

To solve the above issue, for example, use the following:

name: futurecore
type: base
build-base: core24
# base: is not set elsewhere 

Last updated a month ago.