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Snap Applications Missing in Linux with ZSH

·2 mins

I’m a regular ZSH user, and overall it works just fine as a replacement of BASH. However, recently I kept having trouble with my personal workstation losing track of my SNAP-installeed applications (in particular the Atom Editor) while running KDE Neon. Thankfully, I’m not the only one that had this problem, and there is a straightforward (and in hindsight obvious) fix.

Periodically after I would update KDE Neon via the Software Center I would lose links to some (though not all) of my applications. Eventually I was able to discover it was applications I had installed through Snap in particular, such as the Atom Editor).

It turns out this disappearance is a common problem. The issue, in particular, is related to a variety of installation platforms assuming that /etc/profile will be used as a baseline for including things into the user’s path and various environment variables. I discovered this from this Reddit post.

Having reviewed what was in my /etc/profile and /etc/profile.d configuration, it was clear that both Snap and Flatpak add things here assuming users are including BASH primitives in their shell startup.

Notably for this post:

  • /etc/profile - This had some random default shell configuration in it (YMMV), but also notably had the loop logic for /etc/profile.d, as you’d expect
  • /etc/profile.d/ - This adds the Snap bin folder to the primary path, and also adds XDG data directories for Snap so that X11 and Wayland can find the Snap application launchers
  • /etc/profile.d/ - This does thee same fiddly steps for flatpack

The Reddit post added a rather novel suggestion, which was to add this to the /etc/zsh/zprofile file (the ZSH profile variant):

# in /etc/zsh/zprofile

emulate sh -c 'source /etc/profile'

The emulate command, as the name implies, attempts to map some other shell into ZSH through an emulation layer. In effect this is a “safer” way of sourcing the /etc/profile file.

Adding this command naively fixes all of my issues, but it’s important to know what this does – there may be things in the /etc/profile structure you do not wish to load. You can always target files individually as well (for example invoking individual files in the profile.d directory).

An example might be:

# in /etc/zsh/zprofile

emulate sh -c 'source /etc/profile.d/'

Note, however, it is possible the files in the directory may change as Snap and Flatpak change their configuration over time, so buyer beware!