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.