Chrome is currently the most popular browser. This is mainly for marketing reasons, not because it is technically the best or fastest. The big downside, however, is that Google’s curiosity is cooked by default. This can be overcome with a very similar browser, Chromium. What do you need to know about this?
Chrome is very curious. This in itself shouldn’t come as a surprise, as it’s made by Google. Second, it lives on user data, statistics and their sale. By aggressively conquering the browser market, it has gold on its hands. Chrome allows the company to monitor what users are doing more accurately than ever before. Especially if a large number of them are also signed in and signed in with their Google account.
Surely everyone should know for himself, but does that make you feel a little uneasy? Then it’s time to look at an alternative. This gets a little tricky if you’re fascinated by the browser, but less so by curiosity. In that case, it’s good to know that Chrome’s engine – Chromium – is open source. The beating heart of a browser, this engine renders the pages and in this case includes almost all the features that make up Chrome.
While this is (mainly) made and maintained by Google, you won’t find the aforementioned curiosity as the engine is open source and can be used in other browsers. This is against open source guidelines and it would also be strange if an alternative browser had to provide Google ‘spyware’.
Install Chromium Browser
The privacy-conscious user who wants a Chrome-compatible browser for some reason should focus on Chromium. Now the Chromium project itself consists mainly of the engine, as well as generally unstable nighttime builds, which do not make the average non-geek happy. Fortunately, stable builds of a Chromium-based browser can also be found at https://chromium.woolyss.com/. For almost every operating system that can be thought of to be precise.
The biggest ‘lack’ of Chromium Browser compared to ‘real’ Chrome is that there is no built-in auto-updater. That’s why you should keep your browser up to date. In principle, this means visiting the website in question regularly. The update process works just like the initial install: (for example) under Windows, click Chromium for 64-bit Windows in the Latest Installer.
Download the setup file and double-click it to run it. Chromium doesn’t have a built-in digital signature, so – depending on your system settings – Windows may show a warning. In this case, click on it in the warning window. More information and then the button Download it anyway.
If you are very suspicious, enter immediately after downloading and before launching the file. mini_installer.sync.exe run a manual scan. If after a few weeks you find a newer version on the download site, get the installer and go through the procedure again. In this case all settings, extensions, bookmarks etc. will be saved.
Extensions in Chromium
Chromium looks and works exactly the same as Chrome. All extensions are also supported. For example, if you have installed a virus scanner with browser extensions for Chrome, Chromium will also be recognized as a ‘target’. You will then see the – somewhat impractical – Error message in the upper right corner of the Chromium window, right next to the button with three vertically oriented dots. Colored orange specifically for this error condition.
Click on the dots button and you will see the ‘error’ message consists of extensions that are present but not yet activated. In our example for Bitdefender. Click on extensions and click enable Enable extension.
You can also use Chromium for any Chrome extension. Just click the button with the three dots in the upper-right corner of the Chromium window and then below it. Other Tools on Extensions. On the page that opens, click the button with three lines at the top left of the panel you see in Open Chrome Web Store and then at the bottom. As you can see, all known extensions from Chrome are available and can be installed. Including ad blockers and lots of tools.
So upload your favorite copies to Chromium as well. Note that extensions themselves can pass privacy-sensitive data to their manufacturers. For example, if you’re going to install all kinds of extensions from Google, you’ll get to the point where you might wonder if it makes a lot of sense to use Chromium…
Also read: Here’s how to tell if a Chrome extension is safe
Progressive Web Applications
As promised, Chromium also lets you install PWAs. It’s handy because it gives your Windows PC or laptop the basic capabilities of a Chromebook. Find a PWA, eg Spotify web player. If you look closely at the right side of the address bar, you will see an install button there. Click this and then the button To upload.
Eventually, – in this case – a shortcut to Spotify will appear on the desktop. Double click on it and Spotify player will launch like a Windows app.
You can remove such PWA again in the unwanted PWA window and click (more or less) the three dots button in the upper right corner of the window and then click (in this example) on it. Uninstall Spotify.
Just like Chrome
Chromium’s settings options are the same as Chrome’s. It’s handy because you can also use the tips in our article about Chrome settings for Chromium. If non-automatic updating of Chromium is a hurdle for you, there are tools and extensions to fix that shortcoming. Please heed the warning on the linked site and be careful.
Source: Computer Totaal