The system-files interface

The system-files interface enables a snap to access specific system files and directories (such as files in /etc). Consequently, the interface can provide access to privileged system data and is not connected by default.

This interface is typically used to provide read-only access to system configuration directories created by a non-snap version of an application now running from an equivalent snap.


The Firefox, Chromium and Thunderbird snaps use this interface to enable access to system-installed policies to customise each respective application.

Interface documentation:

See Interface management and Supported interfaces for further details on how interfaces are used.

Developer details

Auto-connect: no
Super-privileged: yes
Transitional: no

  • read (plug): list of files and/or directories for read-only access (eg, ‘read: [ /etc/file-read, /etc/dir-read ]
  • write (plug): list of files and/or directories for read/write access (eg, ‘write: [ /etc/file-write, /etc/dir-write ]

Requires snapd version 2.37+.

Consumers of this interface require a snap declaration for distribution via the Snap Store and acceptance in the store requires that the interface is not be used to access:

  • system files where the snap is not the clear owner (eg, /dev, /proc, /sys, /usr, etc).
  • paths in /dev, such as /dev/sda1 Access to /dev device nodes requires both AppArmor policy and device control group inclusion, but the system-files interface does not have enough information to generate the necessary policy to enable these use cases. As such, purpose-specific interfaces should be used instead, such as block-devices or raw-volume.

Do not share data between snaps. While system-files can be used to share data with another snap, such as within a configuration file, this behaviour is not recommended. The content interface should be used instead.

An additional requirement for acceptance in the Global store is using a descriptive interface reference for use with snap connections|interfaces|connect|disconnect.

For example, the ‘foo’ application is packaged as a snap and the snap publisher wants to import existing configuration from /etc/foo into the snap. The snapcraft.yaml might be:

name: foo
    interface: system-files
    - /etc/foo

    - etc-foo

Note, when declaring an instance of the system-files plug as above, it should be named with a descriptive name that indicates to a user what access it grants. In this case, the name etc-foo is used to reflect the access to /etc/foo.

With the above, a snap connect command would look like: snap connect foo:etc-foo.

Code examples

The source code for this interface is in the snapd repository:

Last updated 1 year, 2 days ago.