A week with Google’s Chromium

This is an old article from the Register-News, but I still use Linux for my operating system and use Google Chrome as my primary browser.

I use Linux as my operating system instead of Windows, specifically Kubuntu (kubuntu.org). Deep down, it is very different from Microsoft’s offering, but in general they run a lot of the same programs. Google’s Chromium browser has been available for some time for Windows, but still is not a stable release for Linux, so I have been waiting to try it out. Finally, I decided it was time. Here are my opinions.

To begin, my reason for leaving Firefox (mozilla.org) was that Firefox has a memory leak. This is something that Mozilla has not fixed over the last few releases, and if you leave your machine running for any amount of time (as I do at work) Firefox will continue to keep expanding its hold on more and more memory. Eventually this makes Firefox and your whole system run very slow. The only way to reclaim this memory is to reboot your machine.

After having to reboot my machine at work several times, I decided that it was time to explore optional browsers. Several of my co-workers have been using Chromium for a few weeks so I gave it a shot. After installing the browser (chromium.org), I first went looking for extensions. If you don’t recall, extensions or add-ons are ‘mini-programs’ that add features to your browser.

My main requirements for Chromium to stay is that my extensions be available to make the browser useful. The short version is that I found Adblock (blocks ads in webpages), Xmarks (synchronizes bookmarks and passwords across different computers),  Google Voice (voice.google.com), Forecastfox (weather), and Chromed Bird (Twitter) all available for Chromium.

My first test was passed. Now can Chromium work without crashing, bugs, and hogging my system memory? The short answer is mostly yes.

Chromium has not crashed in the week I have been using it. It has an extremely simple interface, and is very ‘clean’ in its presentation. If you cannot survive without the File, Edit, and other drop-down menus, you might not like Chromium. It presents very few buttons – back, forward, home, and an address bar by default. To the right of the address bar is a Settings drop-down menu. Below that row is space for a bookmarks bar, which is quite nice to keep your favorite sites one click away.

A feature of Chromium that I like is the address bar is also the search bar. This makes sense as the browser IS from Google after all. Being big on privacy like I am, I worried about how much information Google would be harvesting to sell to marketers and such. After some looking around the web, I found out that they keep track of EVERYTHING you search for using the bar. Good or bad is up to you to decide, but I went into the settings and turned off that feature. It means the bar isn’t quite as good at predicting my searches now, but I’m willing to accept that.

The negative that I have found while using this browser is that some buttons on a few sites do not operate properly. In the rare case where a site doesn’t work properly, I fire up dependable Firefox and do whatever I need to do. From what I understand, this is not an issue in Windows or Mac versions, so most of you reading this should not have the button problem.

Overall, Chromium does take a little getting used to, but it has extensions, imports your settings from Firefox or Internet Explorer, and does not eat your memory. I think it is definitely something to check out if it sounds interesting to you. Also, neither Firefox nor Chromium seem to be as vulnerable to attack as Internet Explorer. Go give an alternate browser a chance, you might like it!