A Quick Overview to the Chromium Web BrowserPosted June 5, 2020, 1:13 a.m. by Emil S.
Chromium is a web browser that is slowly gaining popularity for their ability to give more privacy to its users. It is very similar to Google Chrome, so new users do not have to make considerable adjustments to use it. It is also very popular for web developers who want to tinker with its source code. But what is it really, and is it safe to use? This ultimate guide will tell you everything you should know about Chromium.
What Is Chromium?
Chromium is an open-source project meaning that anyone can download it and tinker with its source code. Even you can do it and develop your web browser! The browser that is compiled from the Chromium source code also goes by the same name.
Chromium was launched in September 2008. Google is the chief backer of the Chromium project. This project provides the source code for the Google Chrome browser. Google can collect inputs from outside sources through it and work on these new ideas right away. Because of this, the Chromium browser gets updated several times each day.
Is Chromium the Same Thing as Chrome?
Chromium is different from Chrome, but they share a lot of similarities. Some people get confused between the two because they look and interface are alike. The reason why Chromium and Chrome are closely related is that Chrome is using the Chromium source code.
Every time Google updates Chrome, they use the Chromium code and add their propriety code to add the features of Chrome. Chrome has additional services from Google like automatic updates or built-in support for Flash player.
As you can see, everything in Chromium is found in Chrome, but not everything in Chrome can be discovered in Chromium. We can say that Chromium is the foundation of Google's browser. Chrome is Chromium with more features.
One of these features is support for Adobe Flash. Google Chrome has it, but since the source code for Flash is not open source, the Chromium Project will not be able to use it. So, if you want to use the Flash player while using Chromium, you will have to go through some hoops to do so. But since Flash is being phased out with the arrival of HTML5, this will not be a huge problem.
Another feature that Chromium does not have is codecs. Music and video files take up a lot of space, so codecs were created to shrink down these files then decode them for editing or viewing. Chrome has built-in media codecs like MP3, AAC, and H.264. These codecs are needed if you want to watch videos. So, if you are fond of Netflix, you will have to install those codecs in Chromium manually. Or you can make your life easier by using Chrome instead.
The list of features and built-in support is not the only difference. They are very different when it comes to stability. Chrome is more stable and reliable compared to Chromium. Chromium is very prone to bugs and crashes.
The Chromium download page even warns the user about its instability. It is not advised to use Chromium while you are doing serious work. You can run the two simultaneously on the same system. There is no need to sacrifice one for another.
Why Do People Use Chromium?
Chromium is the browser choice mainly for web developers. This is because developers have to use it and experience how it works to come up with ideas on how it should be tweaked. Sometimes, these developers simply need to check how well updates will perform on the source code and report bugs if there are any.
Some people prefer using Chromium as a web browser even if they are not a web developer. This is because you get the same browsing experience that you get with Google Chrome, only without the "intrusions" of Google. Chromium collects and transfers less information to Google.
The information that Chrome collects when you use the browser includes where you usually click, giving them ideas on what piques your interest. This is how you get targeted ads. Despite it being a less stable web browser, some people are willing to compromise stability for more privacy.
Web Browsers Using Chromium
Google Chrome is not the only web browser that uses the Chromium source code. Here is a list of some web browsers that were built using Chromium:
Opera used to have its propriety code. However, they switched to Blink in 2013 and have been using it ever since. Blink is based on the Chromium source code.
This web browser was created by a former CEO of Opera. Vivaldi is a Chromium-based web browser designed to bring back features that had been removed from the Opera browser.
This is a web browser developed by Mozilla using the Chromium source code. Brave tweaked the source code to prevent tracking browsing behavior and block intrusive ads.
This is a Chromium-based web browser that heavily focuses on privacy. Every time you close a tab, it will automatically clear your cache, erase your browsing history, and remove cookies.
This is a Russian web browser that uses the Chromium-based Blink engine. Just like Chrome, the browsers listed here use the Chromium source code then add their interfaces and features to generate a whole different user experience.
How to Use Chromium on Your Computer
Despite its stability issues, Chromium is a great web browser. It is effortless to install. You can download and use a fresh build with just a few clicks of your mouse. Advanced users can have the option to download and compile the source code manually.
Here is a guide on how to get the Chromium web browser for your computer. Type download-chromium.appspot.com on any browser. Once you reach the page, go to the bottom and select the version of Chromium you want. You can find this near the Supported Platforms.
When you made your choice, click on download chromium. Wait for the download to finish. Unzip the file and open it. If you are a Windows user, you should unzip the chrome-win32.zip file then select Chrome.exe after. If you are using Mac, you can simply click on the Chromium icon, and you are good to go.
There are other ways than this to download Chromium and compile their builds manually, but this is the simplest way to do so. If you want more detailed information on how you can get your hands on the source code for Chromium or Chromium OS, visit chromium.org.
Is Chromium Safe to Download?
If you get Chromium from a reputable source, then it is safe to download. This is because only trusted web developers are allowed to make changes to the source code even if it is an open-source project.
There have been reports of users getting a virus or malware when they download Chromium, but this has been traced down to the fact that they downloaded a fake version of Chromium. When this happens, they get a browser that looks like Chrome but has pop-up ads. Other issues related to this are data theft, keylogging, and turning your computer into a botnet.
This is why we emphasize to only download Chromium from a reputable source so that you do not fall victim to these instances.
Is Chromium Secure?
Chromium has all the security features of the Google Chrome browser - it also has the same weaknesses. But since Chromium goes through updates more often, they receive the latest security patches earlier than Chrome.
The problem is that you have to manually update Chromium since it lacks an automatic update feature. Other browsers like Firefox, Edge, and Chrome will prompt you to do an update. In some cases, they do the update automatically. This is not the case for Chromium. So if you want to have the latest security patches, you need to make a regular habit of updating your Chromium manually.
How to Uninstall Chromium
If you downloaded a legit copy of Chromium, uninstalling it will be an easy process.
For Windows 10 users, all you have to do is press the Windows key + S. Then, type uninstall. Look for Add or remove programs. Then, search for Chromium. Select Uninstall. After this, Chromium will be removed entirely from your computer.
You should restart your computer after uninstalling. If you do not see Chromium in the Add or remove programs, but you downloaded it from download-chromium.appspot.com, do not panic. All you have to do is delete the files you downloaded. This will automatically remove Chromium from your operating system.
For Mac users, Look for Finder on your dock. Then, search for Chromium and right-click on it. If you have trouble looking for it, it may be on the Applications folder. After, choose to Move to Trash.
If you find that you have Chromium installed in your computer and you did not do it yourself manually, then you have an adware version of Chromium. You probably got it when you installed third-party software on your computer as part of the free programs that come with the bundle. You can use antimalware programs to remove this fake version of Chromium.
Chromium is perfectly safe if you download it from the right sources and update it regularly. But if you prefer automatic updates and a download from Google, you should consider getting Chrome Canary instead.
Chrome Canary is just as cutting edge as Chromium and still gets the latest security patches earlier than Chrome. Since it is still a Chrome browser, the updates are done automatically, so you do not have to do it manually. However, Chrome Canary is just as unstable as Chromium.
So is Chromium worth it? It will depend on what kind of browsing experience you want. If you have privacy concerns and you do not mind doing some extra work to maintain your browser, Chromium can be a rewarding choice for you. But if you just want a simple browser that can take care of itself most of the time, Chrome or other established browsers will be the better choice.