There are a lot of browsers in the market today. But, Google Chrome dominates the global browser market despite the diversity of browsers. Chrome is a web browser developed by Google whereas Chromium is an open-source software project also created by Google, whose source code serves as a building ground for many other popular browsers. Chromium vs. Chrome is a common debate. Even though their names look similar and are built by the same developer, they are different in many ways.
Google Chrome leads the browser market globally and undoubtedly has been the only browser that has continued to be in the top position for the past many years. According to Statcounter’s latest statistics from June 2020 through June 2021, Chrome holds around 65% of the browser market, leaving behind Safari, Edge, Firefox by a major leap. Chromium, on the other hand, has a very niche market chunk with a specific user base. Chrome that way has been enjoying the monopoly in the browser market for as long as anyone can remember. But it is essential to understand the difference between Chrome and Chromium to find out their relevance in different scenarios. Let us unravel the mystery behind Chromium browser vs. Chrome in the forthcoming section of the blog.
Google Chrome vs. Chromium
This section covers Chromium and the difference between Chrome and Chromium from Chromium’s point of view.
What is Chromium browser?
Along with the release of Chrome, Google open-sourced and released a predominant part of the source code and released it as a Chromium project, in September 2008. It is an open-source and free browser released by Google, and its source code was available to the developers to make changes as per their needs. Chromium project has a community of developers, i.e., only the developers from the Chromium Project development community are allowed to make changes to the code. Since Chromium was the basis of Chrome, many developers from the community added proprietary code to Chromium’s source code. This implies that Google Chrome has more features and add-ons than Chromium browser, like:
-Installing automatic browser updates
-Support for Flash Player
-Widevine Digital Rights Management module
-Does not track Usage and Crash reports, and
-API keys for few Google services like browser-sync
-Missing Print Preview and PDF Viewer
There are so many browsers that are developed using Chromium as the basis. Opera, Microsoft Edge, Amazon silk are a few examples of Chromium-based browsers. Some users compile it and release browsers with Chromium Logo and name. Many application frameworks also use the Chromium source code.
How to download Chromium?
The most convenient way to download Chromium is from the Chromium download page. Once you open the page, it recognizes the Operating system of your machine and provides a suitable version of Chromium. Alternatively, you can select the desired version from the Operating system list provided at the bottom of the page. If you are a Windows or Linux user, you can recover the older Chromium versions by clicking on the Last Known Good Revision link. In the case of Linux, you can install Chromium directly from the Linux distribution software repositories. For installing Chromium on Ubuntu Linux- go to Ubuntu Software Center > Search Chromium > Select and install. The Ubuntu Software Center also provides the latest Chromium security updates.
Pros and Cons of Chromium Browser
|Frequent Updates||Manually Download/Install Updates|
|No Browser Data Tracking||No inbuilt Media Codec Support|
- Since Chromium is a free platform, most people benefit from it, especially advanced users and web developers. Most users like that Chromium does not track the browsing history or share information with Google about the user browsing behavior.
- There are no restrictions on adding different types of browser extensions.
- Chromium is frequently updated than Chrome, which is a good thing to note, but all those updates have to be downloaded and installed manually.
- Unlike Chrome, it does not receive automatic updates. Chromium Project Website releases the most recent updates on Chromium.
- Also, to play media on Chromium, you need certain licensed media codecs like AAC, H.264, and MP3, which Chromium does not support. This implies, if you want to use video streaming apps like Netflix or YouTube, you will have to install these codecs manually, or you will have to switch to Chrome to use these apps.
- Chrome and Chromium have a security Sandbox mode, which is disabled in Chromium, by default.
- Chromium does not have an inbuilt support system for Flash because Flash is not open-source. And ofcourse, Adobe Flash is not used commonly anymore, but some websites still need it to function properly. If you want an Adobe Flash player in the Chromium browser, you will have to add/write the requisite code for it.
This pretty much encapsulates Chromium’s side of the Chromium vs. Chrome discussion. Now let’s understand Chrome and the difference between Chrome and Chromium from Chrome’s point of view.
What is Chrome?
Chrome is a proprietary browser, developed and managed by Google Inc. Chrome is built on Chromium. It uses Chromium’s source code, with a few additional features. Chrome is a free-to-use web browser, but you cannot make changes to its source code to develop a new program from it. Chrome pushes automatic updates and tracks user browsing history. It even comes with inbuilt Flash support, unlike Chromium. Chrome has continuously topped in the history of web browsers capturing around 65% of the global browser market and remains unstoppable. This also makes it noteworthy to mention that the developers should always test websites that they make on Chrome, including its older and current versions, because not every user upgrades his browser from time to time. But, how would you test websites on Chrome?
You can test a website on different Chrome Versions in many ways. A few of them are:
Downloading Older Chrome Versions– Testers can test their websites on older Chrome Versions to check if they are working as expected. But this is a time-consuming process and unsuitable in the case of managing fast release cycles.
Cloud-based testing Service– Choosing cloud-based testing platforms like pCloudy would finish half the job. It provides thousands of real browsers to access different Chrome versions. The process is quite simple. The testers have to choose a preferred Chrome version and real device combination to start testing (manually/automated) the website.
Browser Simulator– Testers can use browser simulators in the initial development phases because the simulation technique does not work well in testing real-time scenarios like checking network connectivity or low battery issues, device location tracking, etc. The end-user will always use the website in real conditions and not in an imaginary scenario. So, simulators are a good option to check non-real aspects only.
How to download Chrome?
The simplest way to download Chrome is to visit a Chrome Website > download Chrome > Install Chrome. Depending upon the OS of your device, the website will suggest a compatible version. The download completes in no time.
Pros and Cons of Chrome Browser
|Automatic Updates||User Browser Data Tracking|
|Stable and easy with great UI features||No support for additional extensions outside of Chrome Web Store|
|Inbuilt Media Codec Support|
- Chrome is a stable and easy-to-use web browser, preferred by most users.
- It has a Security Sandbox mode by default, which provides safe browsing, automatic crash reports and updates.
- It supports media codecs like MP3, H.264, and AAC
- It supports Adobe Flash Player
- Chrome tracks the browsing history of its users, which is not preferred by many users. However, the user can utilize the incognito browsing feature available on Chrome, if he wishes that the browser remove his browsing information towards the end of the online session.
Chrome vs Chromium- Difference
|Points of Difference||Chrome Browser||Chromium Browser|
|Logo||It is Colorful, uses 4 colors Red, Yellow, Blue, Green.||Different Shades of Blue, and a small white circle outline in the middle.|
|License||Supports Media Codecs: H.264, MP3, and AAC+ Free Codecs: Theora, Opus, WAV, VP8, VP9, and Vorbis +Extra support for HTML5 websites for H.264 Videos||Provides 4 free Licenses-Theora, Opus, WAV, VP8, VP9, and Vorbis|
|Developer||Google Inc+ open source contributors||Chromium Project|
|Flash Player||Inbuilt plugin, can be disabled||Needs Plug in|
|Media Codecs||Vorbis, WebM, Theora, AAC, MP3, H.264||WebM, Theora, Vorbis|
|PDF Viewer||Inbuilt plugin, can be disabled||Needs Plug in|
|Software||Chrome OS||Chromium OS|
|Stability||Stable than Chromium||Crashes, comparatively unstable|
|Privacy||Tracks user stats and shares with Google||Doesn’t track much user stats, safer|
|Security||Secure, security patches updated automatically updated||Secure, security updates manually downloaded and installed|
|User Data Tracking/Crash reports||Tracks user data and crash reports||Not available|
|Extension support||Only web store extensions allowed||Allowed|
|Sandbox Support||Always Enabled||Disabled|
|Adobe Flash||Supported||Not Supported, but can be installed separately|
|Web Store Service||Available||Not Available|
|Extra Features||Built-in support for several technologies + update mechanism+ DRM elements for copyrighted content||No additional features|
We have discussed various points about the Chromium vs. Chrome debate. Now, which one to choose? It is a tricky question to answer. For Windows and Mac, Chrome is the best option because of its steady release. However, Linux users can go for Chromium but need to beware that it does offer a great range of well-supported media codecs. With no automatic updates, no adobe flash plugin, etc. Several modified Linux-friendly Chromium versions might be able to support these features. Chromium comes as a default browser in many Linux devices nowadays.
After knowing the difference between Chrome and Chromium and their strengths and weaknesses, we can say that choosing between the two browsers depends on your browser needs. Regular users can go for Chrome, whereas advanced users who value privacy should go for Chromium. Hopefully, all the information provided above would have helped you solve the Chromium vs. Chrome mystery. Happy Browsing!