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Chromium-Based Spinoffs Worth Trying 185

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-of-the-lot dept.
snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Serdar Yegulalp takes an in-depth look at six Chromium-based spinoffs that bring privacy, security, social networking, and other interesting twists to Google's Chrome browser. 'When is it worth ditching Chrome for a Chromium-based remix? Some of the spinoffs are little better than novelties. Some have good ideas implemented in an iffy way. But a few point toward some genuinely new directions for both Chrome and other browsers.'"
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Chromium-Based Spinoffs Worth Trying

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  • 6 spinoffs (Score:5, Informative)

    by Osgeld (1900440) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @10:02PM (#38825023)

    6 more goofy names that mean nothing (internet explorer? ok, Netscape Navigator? ok, SRWare Iron, Comodo Dragon, Iceweasel? wtf)

    ps here is the print version, so you dont have to wade through 6 ad infested pages

    http://www.infoworld.com/print/184923 [infoworld.com]

    • Re:6 spinoffs (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bonch (38532) * on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @10:10PM (#38825075)

      I know, those names are so weird and have no relation to web-browsing.

      Excuse me while I use Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.

    • Seriously. This complaint is so tired.

      Excel? PowerPoint? Even "Word" isn't all that informative. Flash, Acrobat, Java, etc, etc. And these are the ones that everyone's mother might have heard of.

      If someone cares enough to try an application they aren't familiar with, they'll probably hear about these alternatives and add them to their vocabulary. I've never once overheard someone actually complain or become confused by a name that wasn't in the form of "[Application Domain] [Verb]", *except* on forums

    • An iceweasel is the opposite of a firefox

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by stms (1132653)

      I've been wondering when /. would do a story on this. I've been using Iron as my secondary browser for when something doesn't work in Firefox. If you want more stable version of Chromium that protects your privacy better than Chrome Iron is a pretty good option.

      • by Goaway (82658)

        Iron does not really protect you any better than plain Chromium. All it does is bring ad revenue to the pretty dishonest guy who makes it.

        It is not a good option for anything. Just use Chromium if you don't trust Google.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      The original IBM PC, Apple Mac, Commodore Amiga browser wasn't particularly informative either

      Mosaic.

      Of the browsers listed in the article, the only useful ones appear to be Chromium (no google spying) and Rockmelt (social media integrated). They could have shorted this to a 2 item list. 3 if they included Flock.

      A story about Mozilla/Gecko would be far more interesting. There are about 15 different browsers which use that as its base.

  • Great idea ... (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by hweimer (709734)

    ... now we can have the same security bugs as Chrome/Chromium but without any timely fixes!

  • by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao&hotmail,com> on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @10:29PM (#38825169) Homepage

    The interface is what ruins Chrome, how come no one bothers to fix it? A good interface is consistent, internally and externally: the app must belong with the operating system around it. Chrome is alien in any system, it does not have the same window borders, menu bar, or anything else as every other app. That's tolerable from a tiny indie team, like jDownloader, but from a megacorporation like Google this is simply cringeworthy.

    • by scialex (1283788) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @10:55PM (#38825283)
      But OTOH it is consistently inconsistent. On any OS/platform you can be fairly certain that if you fire up chrome/chromium it will look almost exactly the same.
      Furthermore the fact is that chrome's ui is quickly becoming the standard browser ui. Both IE 9 and Firefox whatever the hell version they are at now look very similar to it.
      • by MarkRose (820682) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @01:01AM (#38825803) Homepage

        Chrome's UI is not the most intuitive but I like how minimalistic it is, and how it saves the most amount of screen space for the actual task at hand: viewing web pages.

        • 1. Pick any graphical browser. Any.
          2. Navigate to web page.
          3. Press F11. OMG ALL TEH BUTTONZ IZ GAWN!

          I use Chrome at work as it's fastest at rendering JS heavy content (ticketing and inventory system), Comodo Dragon and Firefox at home. Horses for courses.
    • by FooAtWFU (699187)
      Chrome sacrifices operating-system paradigms to build Google's brand; you are meant to look at the shiny colors and think 'yay google! google google google.'.

      Operating-system-style widgets and the like make sense for users, but Google makes Chrome for the benefit of Google first and users second.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Chrome's interface is why I use it. It takes up less space and gets the bullshit out of my way. There is no reason to devote the entire top of my screen to the name of the application and the minimize, maximize, close buttons, when the only name I care about is the title of the website I'm currently looking at, and I have all these tabs I need to have displayed. Chromes interface makes sense

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @11:58PM (#38825553)

      The interface is what ruins Chrome, how come no one bothers to fix it? A good interface is consistent, internally and externally: the app must belong with the operating system around it. Chrome is alien in any system, it does not have the same window borders, menu bar, or anything else as every other app. That's tolerable from a tiny indie team, like jDownloader, but from a megacorporation like Google this is simply cringeworthy.

      Chrome ignoring the system's window decorations to build its own isn't just annoying, it's an accessibility and usability nightmare. If a user is disabled and needs, for example, larger close/minimise/etc buttons, Chrome's custom decorations still draw at their own size regardless of system setting. It also puts the window control buttons in the same place regardless of how your system is set up, so a user with motor control problems is going to be more likely to hit the wrong button by mistake due to the close placement and small size.. Since it ignores colour scheme, too, that means users that need high-contrast themes are screwed there, too.

      These problems are especially obvious in KDE, because Kwin allows you to change button placement and decoration size. Even for a user without disabilities, the fact that Chrome and Chromium completely override your settings and does what it wants is a usability killer. I have custom window decoration placement, size, and a dark theme, so Chromium is absolutely horrible to look at by default.

      Luckily, Chromium has two useful appearance options under the "Personal Stuff" section that mitigates this. You can choose "Use GTK+ theme" to get your system colours, and "Use system title bar and borders" to put your window manager back in control. No idea if it works in Windows, but it was a huge improvement for me in Debian.

      • Luckily, Chromium has two useful appearance options under the "Personal Stuff" section that mitigates this. You can choose "Use GTK+ theme" to get your system colours, and "Use system title bar and borders" to put your window manager back in control. No idea if it works in Windows, but it was a huge improvement for me in Debian.

        I installed Chromium just today on my KDE Arch box and it had "Use system titlebar and borders" turned on by default.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      Well, Chrome looks pretty much like the rest of the UI on my Vista box.
      Only things missing are the icon top-left and the missing window title.

      Firefox has a non-standard menu button branded "Firefox" top-left in the otherwise normal, title-less titlebar.
      Opera looks pretty much the same as Firefox, but with a "Opera" branding on the button.
      IE9 has the same empty titlebar as Chrome with some non-standard round buttons beneath it.

      Each of these nicely uses the OS style and each has their own minor inconsistancie

    • by Quarters (18322)
      Why? Why is uniformity with every other random application a user might have installed considered the bellweather by which all interfaces should be judged? Is it because that's what they teach in school? Is it because of Apple's arguably outdated and internally inconsistent HIG? Personally I'd rather not have the same exact visual style on the interfaces for my 3d modelling package, video player, and word processor. Claiming they should all be identical is like saying the buttons on my alarm clock should ex
  • InfoWorld's Serdar Yegulalp takes an in-depth look at six Chromium-based spinoffs that bring privacy

    I read that as "piracy". Too much news on the same topic, I suppose.

  • Customization (Score:5, Informative)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @11:07PM (#38825341)
    The one thing that keeps me from switching to Chrome is the lack of customization. With Firefox I have the wonderful about:config, but Chrome has no such feature. Even basic settings like moving where the tabs are or fine-grained privacy settings are missing from Chrome and most Chrome derived browsers.

    Until Firefox somehow becomes totally unusable or Chrome actually lets me change basic settings, I'm sticking with Firefox.
    • Even basic settings like moving where the tabs are or fine-grained privacy settings are missing from Chrome and most Chrome derived browsers.

      Hear ya. Chrome had tabs-on-side as a hidden beta feature for a while, but around xmas they removed it completely. Is there side tabs on any of the Chrome variants? For now, I'm with Opera, but frankly it's not the speed king anymore like it was in the day.

  • by J. T. MacLeod (111094) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @11:12PM (#38825361)

    I would love Chrome if it had a status bar instead of a status popup that covers page elements and a URL bar that either shows the http or doesn't include it when you copy and paste the URL (what kind of moronic...).

    So, basically a browser that doesn't go out of its way to annoy me. Is there a version of Chrome like THAT?

    • by Z34107 (925136)

      The heck is with you status bar fetishists? I don't feel compelled to burn ~20 precious vertical pixels, displaying nothing, just in case I might hover over a link.

      Between you and the "every program must have a file menu" guys, you'd double the amount of chrome in Chrome and gain exactly zero functionality.

      • by anonymov (1768712)

        May be you don't. For others, 20 pixels out of >1200 is not precious, but status bar flashing in and out and showing incomplete link URL is distracting and annoying.

        Why not just make it configurable?

      • I love it when I can reclaim some screen space (stuff the menus away where ever!). I don't love it when it comes at the expense of functionality.

        Like status popups covering up part of a web page I'm trying to read. Which happens ALL THE %^@^% TIME.

        • by Z34107 (925136)

          Like status popups covering up part of a web page I'm trying to read. Which happens ALL THE %^@^% TIME.

          If you had the always-on status bar, you wouldn't have been able to those 20 pixels in the bottom left-hand corner anyway.

  • Page 3 reviews Comodo Dragon [infoworld.com]. What it doesn't mention is that if an HTTPS site uses a certificate that's domain validated, Dragon raises a warning [netcraft.com] "that the organization operating it may not have undergone trusted third-party validation that it is a legitimate business." Might this just be a way to threaten small-time webmasters, especially those who only started offering HTTPS to join EFF's HTTPS Everywhere initiative [eff.org] or to offer user accounts without running the risk of getting Firesheeped [pineight.com], into buying pricier EV certificates?
    • by wanzeo (1800058)

      It's probably not some nefarious plot to sell certs, HTTPS is a good thing, but I agree that raising a warning for domain validated sites is a mistake. Any site that I trust enough to visit, I trust enough to use their certs.

      Or, if you are going to start requiring user approval, do it for every site, instead of having a huge list of "legitamate businesses" who pay to be trusted by the browser automatically. I have never really understood why a trusted third-party is necessary.

      • Any site that I trust enough to visit, I trust enough to use their certs.

        How do you know whether you trust a site enough to visit it? The cert could be for PayPaI.com (capital i looks like lowercase L) or xn--itibank-xjg.com (appears as citibank.com, though using a C-shaped Cyrillic s). Comodo could explain this away as part of Dragon's phishing filter.

    • if an HTTPS site uses a certificate that's domain validated, Dragon raises a warning "that the organization operating it may not have undergone trusted third-party validation that it is a legitimate business."

      I'm all in favor of checking whether a commercial site has an identifiable, legitimate business behind it. We do that with SiteTruth [sitetruth.com], and it filters out a huge number of junk sites. We divide SSL certs into three categories - "domain control only validated", "business validated", and "extended validation". A "domain control only" cert has no identify value. The CA/Browser Forum is formalizing this distinction with their new cert issuance guidelines. [cabforum.org] The 3 levels of certs are now an industry wide standard.

      • by Tim C (15259)

        I'm all in favor of checking whether a commercial site has an identifiable, legitimate business behind it.

        That's fine, but what about legitimate, non-commercial sites that want to use HTTPS but neither can afford nor need an EV cert? Why downgrade them because they're not certified as something that they're not even pretending to be?

  • by flimflammer (956759) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @11:41PM (#38825487)

    Iron is a known scam [hybridsource.org]. If there is a reason to use Iron, it is not for its privacy related offerings. You're better off just using Chromium.

    • by Dwedit (232252)

      I've seen that page many times already. Maybe the complaints were valid for an earlier version of the browser, but Iron is different enough than stock Chromium now. It leaves out the part about Iron successfully implementing adblock.ini. While there are other extensions for blocking ads, you're left with trying to find out which extension is the real one which stops them from loading, and not just an element hider. Then there are performance problems with some of the extensions, they simply can't handle

  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @12:14AM (#38825599)

    ... more then just a browser to get people to change. I've often wondered why TOR developers don't integrate something like bit-torrent like protocol combined with an anonymity service like onion routing and a browser all in one, anyone who is using the browser and wants to keep their privacy automatically becomes part of an anonymity swarm instead of having separate packages just have it all integrated and take the end user out of the loop. For most people that will do. For the power users they can download custom stuff like what is available now.

    With all the bs going on with corporations owning the governments of the world and trying to take away peoples rights it's about time someone actually did something about it in terms of combining all the features into one complete package that grows more powerful/useful as people use it.

    • by Dwedit (232252)

      Tried "Torbrowser"? It's a pack that lets you run a "Portable App" preconfigured custom build of Firefox Aurora 9, which automatically logs you into Tor before you use the browser. Really easy to use.

      • I'm thinking of something for the masses - the masses dont want hassle at all, they want something like chrome that just hides in the background and auto-updates without fuss. Tor still has 'barriers to entry' in terms of it's use. You have to download it, start it up, then you have to 'manually' turn on whether you become a node or not. For just private browsing that's still too many steps for the masses. You want to take all the decisions completely out of the loop and have custom stuff like you talk

        • by Dwedit (232252)

          The "Torbrowser" package from eff.org I mentioned does not manually require starting Tor, you just run something called "Start Tor Browser.exe", and it does everything for you, you just run it and start browsing. No need to "Start up tor", or "manually turn on" anything. It's a separate profile from your main Firefox profile.
          But it doesn't auto-update. Some people think that's a privacy risk, so they exclude those kind of features.

          Vidalia still starts up in the background, but it shuts down when you clos

  • The article title is "alternatives are worth trying" and in fact the article summary is that whatever niche thing the alternatives do is usually easily do-able with the basic chromium and some addons. So really the author is saying they AREN'T worth the effort unless you have an obsessive need to address some trivial issue and downloading a whole new browser is easier for you than to modify the defaults yourself. (shrug)

  • ...to mention Firefox

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