Pre-Alpha Chromium Browser Now Available

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.

Archived Comments


It is worth mentioning that this project has nothing to do with Google (Google Chrome) and CrossoverChromium - a ported version of Google Chrome by CodeWeavers. Nonetheless it is still exciting, whilst waiting for the “real” Google Chrome for Linux by Google.


I wouldn’t say that Chromium has nothing to do with Google. Unless I’m mistaken, most of Google Chrome is open source code from Chromium.


Those wanting a somewhat more “stable release cycle” of these pre-alphas might want to add Fabien Tassen’s PPA:
At least with his PPA, you’re not getting the potential for breakage every single day.

You can also grab the latest Firefox 3.1, 3.2, Thunderbird 3.0, and Songbird 1.1.1 among other things from FTA’s PPA.


Duh! Doesn’t this break the stuff mentioned on the linux-splash page? :P I will add that ubuntu-tweak has the repo added into their package, making the install easier still, but it definitely needs to be highlighted that it is a pre-alpha and not meant for day to day usage yet.

Jesse Hallett

Chromium for Linux is very good looking and snappy. The one catch is that I have tried two builds, and neither will render HTML.

I did find a way to crash it though. Try typing this in the address bar:


ROBERT Stephane

Thank for this info, i will try it ….

Vadim P.

Eh, no 64bit builds.

Vadim P.

There is one now… but:

“Blogging about it is not helpful:

Chromium’s problem is not a lack of media attention, but an excess of it. Coverage encourages people to try it out in this incomplete state which only creates negative first impressions. Also, dealing with misunderstandings/questions etc only distracts the team from the job of improving it.”


It’s really exciting to watch the browser improving, literally from day to day, and gives me the feeling of participating in something new, even as an observer. Today I noticed that the tab bar is working :)


oops - I just left a comment about the tab bar working, but no, I had accidentally opened the Crossover version, which coexists on my ubuntu box.


Now, the tab bar really *is* working.

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