Is Chromium, the next browser from Google, trying to take over for Chrome?

At a recent I/O developer conference, Google’s senior VP of products, Sundar Pichai, announced that Google Chrome now has over 1 billion active users. Though Microsoft has pushed their Edge browser hard, consumers simply like Chrome better. So, why mess with perfection?

Google Chomium

The Chromium browser project actually does not attempt to improve upon Chrome. It is an open-source browser that works more as a shell or window manager for the Internet instead of as a standard browser. The tabs work more as a title bar for desktop applications and are designed to manage groups of applications.

Chromium’s Quick Search Box simplifies the way people access the Internet, including their personal content. The Chromium OS combines these two common activities to make navigation faster and more intuitive.

How Chrome Differs from Chromium

Google has taken the basics of Chrome and added some important open-source bits that may attract those who love and use open source programs. A few of these include:

  • Adobe Flash (PPAPI). Chrome includes this Flash plug-in that gets automatically updated each time Chrome is updated. In order to experience the best in games and graphics, computers need the latest version of Flash. Their sandboxed Pepper API (PPAPI) plug-in can be installed on Chromium, but this is not done automatically.
  • Support for AAC, MP3, and H.264. Both browsers include the basic codecs, such as WAV, Opus, Vorbis, Theora, VP8, and VP9. Chrome provides licensed codecs giving users access to a wider range of media and content.
  • Extension Restrictions. These days, many extensions have been released that can actually harm your computer and zap resources. With Chrome, all extensions that are not found in the Chrome Web Store are automatically disabled. A recent investigation found that some rogue extensions can highjack your computer’s resources and use them to mine cryptocurrencies. This will cause your computer to slow way down and behave in unusual ways.
  • Updating Google regularly. Both Windows and Mac users have an app running in the background that keeps Chrome always up to date. Chromium lacks this convenient feature.
  • Security Sandbox. One of the best features of Chrome and Chromium is that these browsers have the security sandbox enabled by default. A few browsers, including some Linux programs, will disable Chromium’s security sandbox, which can cause random issues.

Why Build Another Web Browser?

Google’s developers designed Chromium in an effort to build a better, safer, more reliable way for users to surf the web. By allowing developers all over the world to work on the project, they felt that Google Chrome could be significantly improved upon. However, this hasn’t happened.

Chromium is still largely misunderstood by the masses and has not generated the global interest that other open source products have. For instance, the Linux operating system has become a very trustworthy program that is used today by about half of all Internet servers. It’s reliable and secure. A number of programmers and developers will always be fans of Linux no matter what. It remains freely distributable, allowing anyone to create a distribution for any purpose.

A large community of developers worldwide worked on Linux for many years and their hard work produced an amazing family of free, open-source operating systems. These programs are used in education, business, finance, video games, and supercomputers, among others. Linux set the bar high for open-source software collaborations.

Today, users can still get excellent support from these developers. Companies like Red Hat and SUSE still offer commercial support as well. The dream for Chromium was that global developers would continually improve upon the program until it far surpassed other browsers on the market.

Why Chrome is Preferred

Today, in spite of the many good browser choices available to users, Chrome is hard to beat. This may add to Chromium’s lackluster appeal. Below, are a few of the reasons why Chrome users say they will continue to use this browser over Chromium and others:

  • Extensions and apps are integrated seamlessly. Firefox takes months to add a new app or extension for new sites, programs, and content.
  • Ease of use and installation. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to install and use Chrome. It has a very clean, organized design that takes away the confusion that new users may experience. That makes it perfect for groups like the elderly who need programs that work without much ado.
  • Bookmarks and favorites can be quickly transferred to a new computer, phone or tablet. Chromium and Firefox both use a more disorganized system of transferring your bookmarks that can be painfully inconsistent.
  • Lack of understanding is another hurdle for Chromium. Because it is not a standard web browser, users may get confused about exactly how to manage applications and programs.
  • Efficiency and speed. Today, people expect to assert almost no effort when using the computer. They want everything to work seamlessly without additional effort or education. The need to be user-friendly is a giant obstacle to overcome when creating new apps, computers, programs, etc.

Getting Started with Chromium

Chromium is still a good option for those who are looking for open-source software and who want to avoid closed-source bits. Linux distributions may incorporate Chromium instead of Firefox simply because it’s so much like Chrome, yet offers good open-source attributes. Of course, Chrome still offers a better Flash player and a few other good features. For instance, using Chrome on Linux, users can now stream Netflix videos, an attractive quality for those who love Netflix. Chromium does not offer support for HTML5 video content.

Despite its drawbacks, numerous users including developers are working on Chromium. Getting involved in this project is easy. New users might begin by visiting forums and developer discussion groups. There, you can meet some like-minded individuals and get up to speed. You can also get involved by volunteering to help with testing. Chromium developers are looking for reduced test cases that improve web compatibility.

There is always a wide range of issues from translation problems to file bugs that developers can help with. Submitting patches can be extremely helpful. In the end, Google’s hope is that Chromium will become a fast, responsive program that is secure and dependable. It remains to be seen whether this will happen or not. Though Google is a trusted brand globally speaking, the company does sometimes create an “Edsel” when it comes to new programs, software, products, and apps.

Published on 1st May 2018 by Michael Garrido.

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