Last week I found an Ubuntu package repository for the Chromium browser, the open source project behind Google’s Chrome browser. I didn’t get excited until I saw this post, which shows that the packages do contain a working web browser!

Chromium on Linux

Chromium for Linux is pre-alpha software, but farther along in development than I expected. The GTK-based Linux interface looks and works just like Windows interface. The browser rendered sites I tested it with just fine, and I haven’t been able to crash the it yet. Lots of features, such as bookmarks, the options window, and even the about window, are simply are not implemented yet.

The big missing feature currently is the tab bar. You can open a new tab just fine, but the tab bar is missing so there’s no way to switch between tabs. Like the Windows version, Chromium for Linux runs each tab in its own process. Tab crash detection seems to not be implemented yet as killing a tab process causes the page to just stop responding.

Chromium, even in this early state, feels much faster than Firefox. I compared the 280Slides presentation editor running in Firefox 3 and Chromium, and the difference was like night and day. Chromium scores very well in the SunSpider Javascript benchmark: 4.7 times faster than Firefox 3, and 2.9 times faster than Firefox 3.1 Beta 3.

Firefox 3.1 Beta 3 1914.6ms +/- 6.2%
Firefox 3 3082.8ms +/- 0.2%
Midori 0.1.4 1111.4ms +/- 1.2%
Chromium 657.4ms +/- 2.6%

The Ubuntu Chromium Daily Builds PPA makes installing Chromium in Ubuntu very easy to do. However, these packages are pre-alpha and completely untested, they may not work for you at all. Follow the directions on the PPA page to add the software repository. Install Chromium from the package chromium-browser (click the link to install), or by running the command below in your terminal:
sudo apt-get install chromium-browser

The repository should be updated daily with the latest Chromium code. I’ll definitely be following Chromium for Linux’s development from now on.


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