Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Chromium default Browser for UNE 10.10

EDIT: My apologies! This article is not accurate, the result of an unfortunate misunderstanding. Chromium will be the default for UNE 10.10 (Ubuntu Netbook Edition), not the standard edition.

It seems Canonical keeps on making changes to their default installation, as has been the case in their latest releases. Empathy replaced Pidgin, GIMP was gone, PiTiVi and Gwibber were included... It appears Firefox is about to become the next casualty in that list.

I personally like Chromium, it is a very fast browser, but if I think about it twice, that's about it. There are still security concerns, a big gap towards natively integrating it into Linux desktop managers, and certain sites just plain do not work with it. In fact, some of those concerns are considered in a BLUEPRINT that has been published on LaunchPad.

I must admit I used Chromium quite intensively some months ago. It pretty much replaced Firefox entirely on my Ubuntu 9.10 machines, as I was a bit bugged with it being slow. However, after some months I started noticing Chromium also had its share of shortcomings. Eventually, when I installed PCLinuxOS 2010, I realised Firefox 3.6.3 was much faster, but just as solid and secure as always. Not long after, I reverted back to Firefox in all my installations. As a side note, I have installed Firefox 3.7pre from Mozilla's development repositories and I have to say it is even quicker.

Long story short, I think Canonical is once again making the wrong turn here. Chromium is still a very young project, not mature enough yet. With Firefox 4 right around the corner, which should close the gap to "modern" browsers in terms of speed and tab process isolation, I find this decision more difficult to justify than ever before.

Firefox will surely remain available in the repositories, so there will be an open door for everyone who, like me, is more comfortable using it. My concern is that Canonical is apparently sacrificing some of its original values, like security and reliability, in favor of the "flavor of the month". I didn't understand the excessive push on social interaction tools and now I don't understand getting rid of an Internet browser which has been their flagship for so long, which is also an industry standard. Do they think popular is better? Hard to tell, but with all the bugs pending fixing, I find it funny that they actually waste a second thinking of replacing the Internet browser.


  1. Interesting piece of news. I wonder if the real reason for the change is to save space on the live CD. That's the reason they gave for removing GIMP. What's next? Removing OpenOffice.org and replacing it with Abiword as Fedora does on their live version?

  2. UNE stands for Ubuntu Network Edition, so I don't think Chromium is going to replace Firefox in Ubuntu 10.10 Desktop Edition.

  3. As the previous commenter points out, this relates only to the netbook edition which canonical try to position as a fast booting internet access option to OEMs. I think it is regrettable, that this article is perhaps going to make a stir. There certainliy is enough evidence to be found not to let out such an ill-informed article which is bound to irritate a lot of readers. Please do your homework right and correct this article. The headline even.
    Best regards.

  4. Only for the Netbook Edition.

  5. I've been using chromium with flashblock and it works flawlessly. I keep firefox because the down them all extension have not been ported to chromium and the later do not offer a similar integrated synch feature.

  6. Guys, thanks for your comments. That was a nice catch and an unfortunate mistake on my side. I fixed it now.

  7. I have used Chromium but I prefer the "Google-branded" Chrome browser. I've used both of these browsers while running Ubuntu and Linux Mint. I cannot recall exactly what I didn't like about Chromium, but it didn't feel right at all.

    I *can* say I'm a huge fan of Chrome running under Linux. Chrome extensions work better than Firefox's. Firefox feels pitifully slow compared to Chrome. A few differences between Chrome for Windows and Chrome for Linux annoy me sometimes. (I run both OSes.) That said, Chrome provides the most seamless experience between platforms. I have to look at the desktop to remember which OS I'm using.

    I downloaded the .deb package from the Google site, but I believe Chrome can be installed other ways such as from Ubuntu Tweak. It's uncomfortable for me to recommend Chrome over Chromium because I don't like branded products for the most part.

    I am interested in your take on Chrome vs. Chromium, since you spend so much time looking at softwares. Your site is much appreciated in these quarters.

  8. Shoot, I'd ditch OpenOffice.org in a second, but I'm afraid it'd break my system to uninstall it. I'll ignore it and use Gnumeric and AbiWord instead.

    Why? I'll tell you in one word -- not even a word, it's one key: F11

  9. @danny8: I agree with you that Chrome feels better rounded overall, but to me both still are immature products, in a sense.

    Speed is not the only thing I look for in a browser, and to me, Chrome and Chromium don't offer much more. I don't particularly like the over-simplified interface (I like my menus there, where they have always been).

    I don't understand what you mean about Chrome extensions being better than Firefox addons? Chrome extensions are crap for the most part! Skins are nowhere near the Firefox quality, and the same applies to pretty much anything that has to do with coding. Let's face it, people have been developing addons for Firefox for quite some time now, and it shows.

    As for the speed bit, Firefox is constantly improving, but once again, I don't like the idea of having a javascript engine so fast that can potentially swallow security holes. Eventually, there has to be a balance and I think Firefox is getting there slowly. I think Firefox 4 is going to be a great product!

    Note that all I am saying here is built over the assumption that both are extremely good internet browsers.

  10. You may not be as sensitive to the slowness as I am. Much of my testing is done with a an old single-core Celeron D system.

    Most of my testing is done with an Atom N270 system. It is no horsepower champ but at least it supports hyperthreading.

    Anyway, Chrome's javascript speed is important to me because I use a browser-based music controller called Squeezebox which is *very* heavily-laden with AJAX scripts. It really tasks the browser.

    I think I understand the point you're making about a JS engine being too fast. I hadn't considered that before.

    I'm interested in FF4 as well. I should check out the beta (either Linux or Windows) when I have time.

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