What is Chromium?
Google Chrome has made a big splash in the browser pond even though it's still feature poor compared to more mature browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera. Many people would agree that the biggest share of this newbie browser's success is due to the big marketing muscles that Google can flex. Just as many people aren't aware that Google's browser success is also due to the fact that it's a branded version of the free and open source Chromium browser.
The Chromium project is the test bed for most of the new features that end up Google's browser. There aren't many visible differences between Chromium and Google Chrome so you may find that the line between the two is pretty blurry. But if you want the latest features, surfing speed and simplicity, you may want to try out the latest build of the Chromium web browser. You can even run it as a portable application so that it won't interfere with any of your installed browsers. I'll tell you how to do that and offer you a few tips as well.
News Flash 8/4/05: Themes for Google Chrome are now available and work well in Chromium and the Portable Chrome I’ve mentioned below.
Where's the download?
If you went looking for Chromium, it's very likely you'll only end up finding places to download Google Chrome. It's not hidden, but it's surely not well advertised. The Chromium testers have a page where they host packaged versions of the daily builds. Once there, you can choose to download a EXE file with a built in installer, or a ZIP version.
http://build.chromium.org/buildbot/continuous/win/LATEST/chrome-win32.zip (manual install)
http://build.chromium.org/buildbot/continuous/win/LATEST/mini_installer.exe (exe installer)
There are beta versions available for those wishing to try out Chromium for the Mac and Chromium for Linux. These versions are still partially broken but work on them continues.
Chromium for Mac and Linux
How do I install Chromium?
I recommend downloading the chrome-win32.zip package. Once I've done that, I simply unpack the zip file into a folder and I run it from that location after creating shortcuts to chrome.exe. The mini-installer.exe package does not allow you to choose where Chromium is installed. It places the application files into a hard to find subfolder under your Documents and Settings. I think that's a terrible place to store applications.
I can also recommend using the Portable Chrome package which can be found at a German blog by a person named Caschy. The portable version does not store your profile, history and cache files in your Documents and Settings folders.
Portable Chrome Download
This portable package is downloaded as an EXE file, but it's a simple self extracting archive which will only ask you where you want to unpack the files. Caschy's portable Chromium package may not be as up to date as the packages at the build.chromium.org site. I always update my Portable Chrome by downloading the latest chrome-win32.zip and unpacking it into the "Chrome" subfolder in my Portable Chrome folder. I make sure that I launch Chromium using a shortcut to the ChromeLoader.exe file in the Portable Chrome folder.
Some of you may be aware that even Chromium, like Google Chrome, still contacts Google servers. If this concerns you, you can always download a portable version of SRWare Iron which is another version of Chromium which doesn't contact any outside servers at all. It does get updated occasionally but I always want the most up to date version of Chromium and for that reason alone I put up with the connections to Google. I typically have a tab or two open to either Google Mail or Google Reader in any case and I'm not too concerned about sharing my surfing habits.
Download SRWare Iron (web browser for privacy fanatics)
How do I add more features to Chromium?
My favorite Bookmarklets
- LastPass Login - quickly fills in all your usernames and passwords for web logins - requires a free account at Lastpass.com
- Delicious Bookmark - allows you to post your favorite bookmarks online - requires a free account at Delicious.com
- su.pr - allows you shorten URLs and to make simultaneous posts to Twitter and Facebook - requires an account at StumbleUpon.com
- Readability - scrubs all the non-essential ads and makes text larger on many blogs and web sites
- Youtube to MP4 - allows you to download Youtube videos as MP4 files for playing on iPods or your PC
- Remove Bloat - removes distracting advertisements on many sites
- Evernote - allows you to quickly add clippings to your Evernote PIM and web account - requires a free account at Evernote.com
Links to lists of useful Bookmarklets: