Thursday, September 9, 2010

Is Chromium the same as Google Chrome?

For some time now I have been using both Google Chrome and Chromium browsers alongside Firefox, Chromium often being the natural choice in Linux while Google Chrome would make it into my work Windows box. I had heard many different arguments as to why it would be best to use one or the other, but I never truly understood what the difference was between them. Considering the Chromium project is open source and feeling close to home in a Linux environment, I thought finding the differences between them would make a good topic for an article.

So, are they the same? Is one browser better than the other for the standard Linux desktop user? Let's start by clarifying what each of them is (excerpts from Wikipedia):

Google Chrome is a web browser developed by Google that uses the WebKit layout engine and application framework.

Chromium is the name given to the open source project and the browser source code released and maintained by the Chromium Project, which results in releases of Google Chrome. Chromium is a project, making all releases developmental, with Chrome being the official release.

These definitions already clarify things a bit, but mostly from a theoretical stand point. What is the actual difference for the Linux desktop user when installing one or the other? To answer this question, there is a convenient comparison table put together by Google in the following PAGE. I will highlight the main differences below:

- Chromium does not support crash reporting nor user metrics, while Google Chrome does. This is obviously no biggie.

- Google Chrome includes H.264, AAC, MP3, Vorbis and Theora plugins by default. Chromium only the last two, which are open source formats. Depending on your needs, this may or may not be an issue.

- Google Chrome includes Adobe Flash plugin by default, while Chromium does not. It can easily get it through a manual download, though.

- Google Chrome includes Adobe PDF support. Under Linux, Chromium should integrate with the on board PDF interpreter (Evince under GNOME, Okular under KDE, etc.)

The rest of differences are mostly minor, perhaps with the exception that Chromium receives less quality assurance testing and its compilations may vary depending on the distro of choice. Some distros release nightly builds that have not been tested.

Long story short, the Linux desktop user should find little to no difference between both browsers. Chromium has quickly become better integrated on the Linux environment, though, and because many distros are building their own custom compilations and adding it to their repositories, it should be most convenient. On top of that, Chromium encourages the use of open source software, which is no small detail.

Which one you choose is up to you, but I would encourage using Chromium if you are a Linux user.


  1. I disagree, Chromium is merely the test bed for Chrome, why not use a finished product. As it stands there is no significant reason, other then minor integration into the OS, that makes a developmental build better then a polished build but there are many reasons not to use one, stability and lack of features being the highest two as well as the APIs are still in a state of flux, what many work today may not work tomorrow.

    I will stick to Chrome.. its just better.

    Great blog by the way

  2. Thanks for your comments, Bupahs!

    Of course, it's mostly down to personal taste. I like Chromium for the reasons I explained, but I agree with your argument there, so stick to Chrome if you are happy with it.

    In all honesty, both Chrome and Chromium feel a bit "unfinished" to me, that's why I stick to Firefox mostly. I like Chromium's speed, of course, but I hate how it sometimes fails on apparently simple things. Stability is still not 100% there.

  3. chromium is much faster than chrome on my system (opensuse).

  4. And if all else fails VM with XP and IE 6...

  5. Personally I prefer stability so its Chrome for me.

    Off topic: Chema, I found some limks you might find interesting.
    Detailed security comparison of recent Top Linux distros:
    Security forum thread were above link is discussed, with further links:

    Small request: I guess Mint Debian Edition review is coming:). So, could you check if apt-get authentication thing is resolved, and also there is a claim that Mint Software Manager does not warn the user of dependencies removal. Apparently when you uninstall cowsay and fortune programs it takes out some system files with it without a warning. This was reported for Mint Ubuntu version.
    All the best, Singu.

  6. I prefer stability, so my choice is Chrome. Some dont trust Google regarding privacy, I find this slightly paranoid, and dont now how these people dare to connect to the internet in the first place.

    Off topic: I stumbled upon some links you might find interesting:
    -Comparison of top 5 Linux distros regarding security:
    -Security forum where above link is discussed and provides more links:

    Shameless proposition:) Assuming Mint Dedian Edition review is coming could you check if apt-get authentication issue is fixed. There is also a claim that Mint Software Manager doesnt warn on dependancies when removing packages. Apparently when one removes cowsay and fortune programs it takes out some system files, without a warning. This was on Mint Ubuntu version.

    Hope you dont find this intrusive:) All the best, Singu.

  7. Chema Martín - I never really got used to FireFox, I guess I haven't been very fair either, I always just uninstall it from all of my boxes. I did adopt Opera for a short time but that affair ended as fast as it started lol. Maybe its time to retry FireFox

  8. @Singu: I was actually thinking of doing an LMDE review, but I am not really sure, as I don't really understand the point of it in the first place.

    Mint's objective has always been to make Ubuntu look better and be even easier to use. Granted, Ubuntu is not perfect, but that was the case when the project started, so I am not sure what is the point in releasing something that is not as polished (other than to please some tech-heads, of course and to cover some minor hardware support issues).

    Anyways, if enough people are interested, I will cover it, why not.

    Bupahs: I recommend installing the beta version of Firefox 4.0 if you want to see whether it's got what it takes for you to use it.

  9. in my oipinion chrome is better ... has more integration with the systems out there and is very compatible , unlike the base (chromium) , an example of it is that even in youtube there are some videos that are in other formats like mp4, flv.... (at my own experience)