Saturday, November 14, 2009

Google Chrome on Linux briefly

After using Google Chrome on Ubuntu for about a week before moving over to the new 9.10 release I have to say that few would not be impressed by the performance of this new browser. I've used Chrome on Windows before and it's fast. Really fast.

Chrome on Linux is simply blazingly fast. Considering it's basically the same code base it probably shows how efficient Linux is. Or, how bloated Windows is. Even with multiple tabs open you hardly feel any slowdown at all. The new design for the UI which seems to have given impetus to every other browser to streamline and simplify their own UIs really allows for lots of screen real estate for the web page you're viewing. Websites simply look more spacious.

The downside? No plugins. At least I've never seen hints from within the browser itself. I'm not really that into plugins anyway so it's no big deal for me. The one thing that does bother me a little is that I can't just right click on a picture on the web and tell Chrome to set it as my desktop wallpaper. Not a major feature, but still a little annoying to people like me.

Being a developer's preview you'd expect bugs, and bugs there are. I didn't set out to hunt for bugs specifically since I was merely using Chrome Linux out of curiousity, but simply using the browser you'll sometimes come across sites that give font glitches. Some words look a little blurry on occasion, but it's not so bad that you can't read them. It just looks out of place.

Printing also doesn't seem to work. I can't believe the Chrome developers would screw this up, so I'm putting it down as "it's not compatible with the printing service on Ubuntu" or "it's a low priority feature". For printing, I had to revert back to Firefox. CUPS just give me an error printing message when I use Chrome.

For most people, I think Chrome would be a good choice of browser. It's fast, light on resources and the installer even adds Google's repositories into Ubuntu to ensure you're kept up to date. Then again people tend to just use whatever's the default installed browser, so IE still has a big advantage on Windows. On Ubuntu, Firefox has the upper hand. Using Karmic, Firefox 3.5 is much faster than 3.0 on a 6 month old Jaunty installation. Maybe it's just the build up of browsing history. I'll know when Lucid is almost here, and Firefox 3.5 has seen 6 months of good use.