Friday, September 19, 2008

How Shiny is Chrome? Part 2, The Chromium Edition

Last week, I mentioned my disappointment concerning Google's Chrome beta for Windows. Mainly that it was an open source browser for Windows only.

Knowing the source is available, It was only a matter of time before we had a Linux and Mac version. Enter Crossover Chromium from Codeweavers 7 days later.

Codeweavers is a company that specializes in Wine development. Knowing Google itself admits Chromium (Chromium is the open source base for Chrome) only builds and works under windows, Codeweavers went to work on getting that build running under wine on Linux and Mac, releasing their modifications.

Kudos all around. It runs, It browses. It is free, and by free I mean free as in free.


It is not really a fair representative of the browser, taking one of Chrome's features and making it a huge drawback. Unlike Chrome, Codeweaver's Chromium takes an eternity to load a page.

Gmail is all but unusable.

FlashPlayer installs and just barely runs, crashing out more often than not.
Even they describes this release as a proof of concept.

  • Should I run CrossOver Chromium as my main browser?
  • Absolutely not! This is just a proof of concept, for fun, and to showcase what Wine can do. Chromium itself is just beginning. As the Chromium project progresses, they will be providing more compelling support for Mac OS and Linux, particularly with process security and memory management. Those future versions from Chromium will be better suited for daily use than this version

Yes it can be done, but should it?

This is an all too common occurrence.

I want to run the new open-source, cross-platform, next-generation browser from Google.

I do not want to run Chromium for Windows on my Linux machine. Thanks for trying.

Richard Stallman has shared a few thoughts on Chrome.

The license for those binaries is unacceptable for several reasons.
For instance, it says you give Google the right to change your software and requires you to accept whatever changes they decide to impose. It purports to forbid reverse engineering. It also uses the confusing and biased propaganda term “intellectual property”. (See for why this term should never be used.)
You should not agree to those terms.
Google is following the footsteps of Firefox. Firefox has done this since it first appeared: the source code is free, but the binaries released by the Mozilla Foundation carry an unacceptable

...I hope someone will distribute free binaries made from the Chrome sources. People have done that for Firefox for years. It doesn’t need to be the GNU Project.
GuiDoc Blog

Crossover Chromium technically fits that description, and yet, I would personally prefer to see GNU pickup the development and stewardship of the GNU/Linux* port of Chromium.
*See Richard, I do care.

So here is my verdict. For now, if you need to run Chrome on your Linux box, you are probably better off running it in a Virtual Machine. I run Chrome in VirtualBox seamless mode, the performance is faster, and the browser is fully featured. All right, it is not as free, but it does actually work.

If you are technically adept (I'm lookin at you Crossover) please dig back in to it's source and contribute to get Chromium running natively.


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