The content interface
content interface allows sharing code and data from a slot on a producer snap to one or more plugs on consumer snaps. It’s often used to share common themes and icons from a producer snap, for example, to many snapped applications.
Sharing happens at the filesystem level, which means anything that can be expressed as a file can be shared. This includes executables, libraries and data files, but also sockets.
The Yaru MATE Icons snap is a good producer snap example, letting other applications access the wonderful MATE icon theme. But there are many other producer snaps too, including several for GTK Common Themes and KDE Frameworks for better application integration with the desktop.
Auto-connect: no, unless connecting to snaps from the same publisher.
- source (slot): allows multiple directories to be exposed separately rather than grouped together
- read (slot): read-only paths to be exposed to a consuming snap
- write (slot): read and write paths to be exposed to a consuming snap
- target (plug): path in consuming snap to find producer snap’s files
default-provider (plug): name of preferred producer snap (
- content (slot and plug): an arbitrary identifier for content type. Defaults to either local slot name or local plug name for slot/plug definitions respectively.
interface (slot and plug): snapd interface name (must be
See below for more details on the following:
- Sharing content: how to share filesystem locations, and how they appear to a plug
- Using the source keyword: share one or more sub-directories beneath a target path
- Read-only content sharing: ideal for executables and global graphical themes
- Content identifier obligations: how the content identifier represents a compatibility contract between the producer and consumer snaps
- Default provider: define and potentially install a snap with a corresponding slot
- Writable data: share data files and sockets between one or more snaps
- Implementation details: how AppArmor and bind mounts help implement the interface
- Code examples
By default, when multiple directories are shared from a producer snap, or when multiple slots are connected to a single plug, the shared content is merged under the
target path of the consuming path’s plug definition. This behaviour can be modified with the
Read, write and target should start with either
$SNAP_COMMON to refer to the designated directory. See Environment variables for details on where these point to on the filesystem.
The content identifier specified by the consuming snap (plug) must match the content attribute of the producer snap (slot).
At a very basic level, the content interface enables one directory, file or socket to appear in a place where another snap can access it.
Each example below involve two snaps: the first provides some content (using a content slot) while the second consumes that content (using a content plug).
In all of the cases we see a small set of attributes defined on the particular interface:
- the producer declares which path can be read, using either the
readattribute for read-only, or the
writeattribute for both read and write permissions
- the consumer uses the
targetattribute to define where the content should become available at runtime.
- both the producer and consumer use an arbitrary
contentattribute to describe the content. This attribute must match on both sides for the connection to happen.
source attribute presents one or more sub-directories, shared from a slot to a plug, beneath the plug’s
target path. Adding the
source attribute ensures that sub-directories, shared from one or more producer snaps, are presented separately to the consumer snap beneath its
When multiple slots are connected to the same plug and they share directories with the same name, those directories are given unique names with the following pattern:
<directory>-x. The names of shared directories with unique names are retained, as defined by the slot.
With the following example, directories from the producer snap are shared in corresponding directories beneath the consumer snap’s
slots: _slot_name_: interface: content content: executables source: read: - $SNAP/bin
plugs: _plug_name_: interface: content content: executables target: $SNAP/shared-bin
With the above configuration, the consumer snap could implement a part to run an executable from the following path:
When more than one slot is connected to the same plug, the
bin directory for the new connection will be incremented:
Directory names are preserved after a reboot.
Read-only content sharing
Read-only content sharing is ideal for executables and files related to global graphical themes and images.
Sharing an executable
When the following two interfaces are connected, the consumer snap can invoke executables from
slots: _slot_name_: interface: content content: executables read: - $SNAP/bin
plugs: _plug_name_: interface: content content: executables target: $SNAP/extra-bin
The directory can be added to
PATH in the wrapper script, if desired, and the directory can also be inspected by any applications that wish to check if the extra executables are available (they can then fail gracefully).
Sharing a C-level library
A consumer snap can link to libraries shared by a producer snap:
slots: lib0-1604: interface: content content: lib0-1604 read: - $SNAP/lib
plugs: lib0-1604: interface: content content: lib0-1604 target: $SNAP/extra-libs
After connecting the interface, the consumer snap can link to libraries from
$SNAP/extra-libs. The directory can be added to
LD_LIBRARY_PATH in the wrapper script if desired.
The value of the
content attribute can be anything, but it is good practice to follow the form
nameAPI-BUILDENV to remind slot consumers of the API level and build tools used. This naming convention is also required when sharing content between snap publishers.
In the above example:
0indicates API level 0
1604denotes Ubuntu 16.04 LTS toolchain and libraries were used within the build environment
API and BUILDENV can be anything that is meaningful to the provider and consumers. For example, the GNOME content snap uses
gnome-3-26-1604 to denote the full GNOME 3.26 platform libraries and supporting files built on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.
Content identifier obligations
The content identifier attribute identifies a mostly-immutable compatibility contract (API/ABI or similar) between the snap providing the corresponding content and the snaps consuming it.
The providing snap must preserve backward compatibility for the content provided under a given identifier.
Equally, updates to consuming snaps cannot strongly depend on changes of the identified content from updates to the providing snaps.
There is no support in snapd to synchronise updates between consuming and providing snaps. Compatibility breaking changes need to happen under a different content identifier.
default-provider attribute can be used to set to the name of a snap offering a corresponding content slot:
plugs: lib0-1604: interface: content content: lib0-1604 target: $SNAP/extra-libs default-provider: lib01604
If the system does not contain a snap providing a matching slot, installing a consumer snap with a default-provider will trigger the automatic installation of the named provider snap (from snapd 2.32). If the named snap is already installed, the absence of a matching slot will instead trigger an update of the named provider snap (from snapd 2.53). The plug and slot will be auto-connected assuming the auto-connection mechanism is configured properly for this.
For example, a snap consuming the GNOME content snap for GNOME 3.26 can set
Sharing writable data
Sharing writable data can be used to share data files, and UNIX sockets, between a group of snaps. This allows for the creation of a simple form of IPC between them.
Sharing writable files (from snapd 2.19.1):
slots: _slot_name_: interface: content content: writable-data write: - $SNAP_DATA
plugs: _plug_name_: interface: content content: writable-data target: $SNAP_DATA
Sharing UNIX sockets (from snapd 2.19.1):
slots: _slot_name_: interface: content content: socket-directory write: - $SNAP_DATA
plugs: _plug_name_: interface: content content: socket-directory target: $SNAP_DATA
When the two interfaces are connected the consumer snap can see the socket in
The content interface is implemented via an interplay between two systems: AppArmor and bind mounts.
By default, the AppArmor sandbox allows writes to
$SNAP_DATA and reads from
$SNAP (see Environment variables for details).
The content interface takes advantage of this feature to map data from other locations to either
A bind mount is then created to link
$SNAP in one snap (e.g. from
/snap/my-snap/1234/content) to an empty directory in the other snap (e.g., to
The same can be done for particular files, if desired, but it requires a pair of interfaces for each file and is more cumbersome.
The previously mentioned Yaro MATE Icons snap is a good example of how this interface can be used to share media with other snaps. Its snapcraft.yaml can be found here: https://github.com/ubuntu-mate/icon-theme-yaru-mate-snap/blob/main/snap/snapcraft.yaml
The source code for this interface is in the snapd repository: https://github.com/snapcore/snapd/blob/master/interfaces/builtin/content.go
Last updated 6 months ago.