If you are a Google Chrome user, chances are high that you know about this little thing called “Chromium.” Maybe you don’t know what exactly it is, but you have at least seen it on your PC/laptop.
So, what is this Chromium actually? How is it related to Google Chrome? In this article, we will clear up any confusion you might have by explaining the difference between the two browsers, as well as how something can be Chromium-based.
What is Chromium?
Chromium is an open-source web browser project that forms the basis for the ‘Google Chrome’ web browser. In other words, Chrome uses the Chromium’s source code and adds a bunch of features developed by Google and some nonfree components. That open-source code is developed and maintained by The Chromium Project, while Chrome itself is developed and maintained by tech giant Google.
“For those unaware, open-source projects allow anyone to view, edit and make changes to the program, with the goal of everyone working together to make the best possible application.”
When Google first launched its Chrome browser back in 2008, its different parts are released under different free software licenses which include BSD License, MIT License, LGPL, etc. They open-sourced most of the software and released it to the Chromium project.
Chromium Vs. Google Chrome – What’s the Difference?
From a user-end perspective, Google Chrome and Chromium are basically the same thing. They share an interface, extensions and most basic features. You can differentiate Chrome and Chromium by looking at their logo, Chrome is colorful and Chromium is blue. However, that’s not the only difference between Chrome and Chromium.
The biggest difference between the two browsers is that, while Chrome is based on Chromium and has all the features of Chromium, Google also adds a number of proprietary features to their Chrome browser that Chromium lacks such as automatic updates, support for additional video formats, and built-in PDF viewer and Flash player. Get in as we discuss more differences between chrome and chromium.
Specifically, Google takes Chromium and then adds the following:
On Windows, Chrome uses GoogleUpdate – an auto-update system for the browser, to automatically update to the latest version. It is not available for Chromium. On some Linux distributions, updates are made available via package repositories. Google Update is also used for other applications like Google Earth.
Chromium’s HTML5 audio/video codec support is limited to what is available as non-proprietary codecs like Theora, Vorbis, VP9, WebM, etc. In the case of Chrome, it adds support for some non-free stuff like AAC, MP3, and H.264 (now free).
Usage statistics and crash reporting:
Unlike Chromium, Google has added the crash reporting and usage statistics options to Chrome so as to automatically send statistics on crashes and errors to Google servers for analysis. It includes general data like information about your device and OS, Chrome settings, search queries, visited websites having malware, etc. This allows Google to provide suggestions, results, and ads that are relevant to you.
However, crash reporting and usage tracking can be disabled from Chrome’s settings.
Adobe Flash Plugin
Google Chrome supports a Pepper API (PPAPI) Flash plug-in which gets updated automatically with Chrome. Since it’s not open source, Chromium doesn’t support it out of the box like Google Chrome.
However, this difference between Chrome and Chromium doesn’t matter much as Adobe Flash is being phased out for the newer HTML5.
Chrome Web Store
On Google Chrome, the functionality to add extensions outside the Chrome Web Store is disabled on all Windows and Mac Channels. However, the extensions can be added via developer mode.
Google Chrome installer includes a randomly generated token. The token is sent to Google after the installation completes in order to measure the success rate. Google also uses the RLZ identifier to track a user while doing Google search and using the address bar. However, it doesn’t track any personal information.
Both Chrome and Chromium have Sandbox support. The only difference is that the Sandbox feature is always enabled in the case of Google Chrome, while for Chromium, some Linux distributions may disable the feature.
Chrome Vs Chromium: Which one is better?
It’s hard to decide which one to choose between the open source Chromium and feature-rich Google Chrome.
For Windows and MacOS, it is better to use Google Chrome as Chromium doesn’t come as a stable release. In the case of Linux, known for its love for free and open source software, Chromium might be a better option (only, if you are okay with the fact that it doesn’t update automatically, lacks Adobe Flash plugin and other media codecs discussed above).
In brief, for users who aren’t so passionate about open-source software, chromium is a good option for them. If you’re into open-source software and try to avoid any closed-source bits, Chromium is a good option for you. You should note that while it’s not Google-branded, Chromium is still very Google-centric. For example, Chromium contains the same sync features found in Chrome, allowing you to log in with a Google account and sync your data.
Various Linux distributions are even offering a modified Chromium, adding various missing features. In fact, Chromium is now being considered as the default web browser in many distros on the likes of Mozilla Firefox.
Supported Platforms for Chrome and Chromium:
Google Chrome and Chromium are available not just for laptops and desktops but also for tablets, Android, and iOS smartphones.
For Chrome: Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS
For Chromium: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android
How to Download Chrome and Chromium?
You can download Chrome from the official download page provided by Google using this link here.
You can download Chromium using the official download page here.