Spotty Connection

I had a few days off work this week. It was very enjoyable to spend a bit more time with the family, doing some jobs around the house, going for walks, and generally nothing else, thanks to The Event.

However, in the quiet moments I still find myself browsing around, stumbling on new software I know will be enjoyed by my friends on Linux, and feel compelled to package it up, as a snap. This time around I found a post on /r/gnome about “Spot” a Gtk/Rust Spotify client.


It ticks some boxes for me:

  • Rust apps are easy to snap ✅
  • GNOME applications fit with my desktop
  • Not Electron (nothing against electron, but y’know) ✅
  • Spotify ✅
  • Leaner than the official client ✅
  • Not currently snapped ✅

So obviously I took a look at snapping it. It wasn’t super challenging, having snapped a bunch of Rust and GNOME applications already. I won’t go through the full snapcraft.yaml in detail because I’ve gone through them before, and there’s only a few interesting differences here. Here’s the full yaml though.

name: spot
base: core20 # the base snap is the execution environment for this snap
adopt-info: spot
summary: Gtk/Rust native Spotify client for the Gnome desktop.
description: |
  Gtk/Rust native Spotify client for the Gnome desktop.  

  - build-on: amd64
  - build-on: arm64

grade: stable
confinement: strict

    plugin: rust
    override-pull: |
      snapcraftctl pull
      snapcraftctl set-version "$(git describe --tag)"      
      - build-essential
      - pkg-config
      - meson
      - cargo
      - libssl-dev
      - libglib2.0-dev-bin
      - libgtk-3-dev
      - libasound2-dev
      - libpulse-dev
    override-build: |
      meson target -Dbuildtype=release -Doffline=false
      ninja -C target
      mkdir -p $SNAPCRAFT_PART_INSTALL/share/spot
      cp target/target/debug/spot $SNAPCRAFT_PART_INSTALL/bin
      cp target/src/spot.gresource $SNAPCRAFT_PART_INSTALL/share/spot      

    symlink: $SNAP/share/spot/spot.gresource

    interface: dbus
    bus: session
    name: dev.alextren.Spot
    interface: mpris
    name: Spot

    command: bin/spot
    extensions: [gnome-3-38]
    common-id: dev.alextren.Spot
      - audio-playback
      - network
      - x11
      - opengl
      - desktop
      - desktop-legacy
      - password-manager-service

A couple of interesting things to note though. I’m using the gnome-3-38 extension which is currently experimental which means I can’t use the automated build service right now. So I’m building this in an empty container on my laptop and publishing directly to the store. Once Launchpad is able to handle this extension, it’ll build there. So that means the application isn’t updated in lock step with the upstream repo, currently.

Also maybe of interest is the layout section I am using. Thanks to Ken from the Ubuntu Desktop Team for suggesting this. I’m using this because Spot looks for a gresource file in a location outside the scope of the contained snap. Layouts do some magic voodoo to remap at runtime to make the application think files are where they aren’t.

Once the snap was built, I requested the name spot from the store. Typically as a publisher I would just snapcraft register spot but on this occasion the name had already been taken by someone who had never published a snap. So I filed a dispute with the store team, who ‘ruled’ in my favour and handed me the snap name. It doesn’t always go like that, so sometimes you need to contact the original registrant and have a conversation to cleanly hand over the name, or work to collaborate on the application, if applicable.

I filed the dispute at 17:32 on Tuesday 16th and was granted the name by the security team by 17:33, which is quick by any measure. After playing with the application for about 20 minutes or so, I decided to mention the snap online.

By this point the snap was still on my hard disk and not uploaded to the store. I fiddled with the snap a little and on Wednesday I tried uploading to the store, knowing it would fail. It uses a couple of features which require an initial manual review. Specifically the use of the dbus name dev.alextren.Spot and access to the mpris interface to enable media controls.

I knew this because I run the same review-tools against the snap before uploading. So I filed a request on the snapcraft forum around lunchtime, asking the security team to allow my snap to use those features.

Pretty soon after the requests were granted. While this was happening Joey at OMGUbuntu wrote about the application after seeing my tweet above. I do like packaging zeitgeisty applications!

The security team allowed my use of the dbus name and mpris, which enabled my uploads to be published. So I released a build to the edge channel and continued iterating and testing. I kept the build in the edge channel for now, until the upstream does a stable release.

The Spotify developers don’t have an arm build of the official application, so Raspberry Pi users can either use the web or ncspot. While ncspot is awesome, some people prefer a graphical interface to their music. So I figured I’d try building an arm64 version of Spot. I did this directly on my Raspberry Pi 400, and then uploaded to the store, again to the edge channel. The tweet below shows the application running on my Pi.

I’ll likely automate these builds. They’re Rust, so they take a while to run on any platform. I want to make sure the snap is kept up to date with the upstream development as much as possible. It’s really great to see someone working on a native way to access Spotify on the GNOME desktop. So I’m really happy to help shine a light on this application.

Grab a copy for your desktop, laptop or Raspberry Pi at the link below. It’s only 6MB!