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Ubuntu Chromium Firefox

Ubuntu Developers Revisit Replacing Firefox With Chromium 153

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the but-firefox-has-a-cooler-logo dept.
Via Phoronix comes news that Ubuntu is revisiting replacing Firefox with Chromium as the default browser. Reasons include that Chromium is the basis of Ubuntu Touch and their new web apps platform, and using a single browser for all versions of Ubuntu would simplify maintenance. From the article: "Expressed shortcomings of switching to Google's Chromium open-source web-browser is that data migration from Firefox isn't too obvious, extensions don't migrate between browsers, Chromium isn't supported on all architectures (e.g. PowerPC), the browser doesn't work with the Orca screen reader and doesn't integrate well for accessibility reasons, there is no native PDF plug-in, and Chromium is said to have worse performance under memory pressure. There were also some concerns expressed about differences with WebApps in Chromium. ... It looks like the switch to Chromium will happen in the name of a better user experience for the desktop with Chrome/Chromium now arguably surpassing Firefox in its features and performance while pushing Chromium as the default leads to a more consistent experience across Ubuntu form factors from phones/tablets to the desktop." The Ubuntu community will have their input solicited as the next step. The Ubuntu Developer Summit session has notes and a full video of today's discussion.

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Ubuntu Developers Revisit Replacing Firefox With Chromium

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  • Well Chrome has one if you want to use it, just doesn't come with Chromium. I am sure they want Chromium instead of Chrome for the whole "pure open-source" thing it has going for it, though.
    • Well Chrome has one if you want to use it, just doesn't come with Chromium. I am sure they want Chromium instead of Chrome for the whole "pure open-source" thing it has going for it, though.

      I suspect that not using Google's pet browser for your competitor-to-Google's-pet-OS might be more of a consideration that OSS purity...

      Obviously, Google has no reason to make the slightest nuisance of themselves if people install Chrome on any desktop Linux; but Ubuntu is shooting for some touch-based something that can be shoehorned into phones and tablets, an area where Google has slightly more incentive to be unhelpful.

      Is there any word on why they aren't looking at libpoppler, if they need PDF renderin

    • by recoiledsnake (879048) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @06:34PM (#43745929)

      Chrome is a trojan horse to weaken Mozilla which is becoming less powerful because Google uses its ad dollars to bundle Chrome with Flash, Acrobat and Java updates by default thereby reducing Firefox's share and has the nice side effect of reducing Google's payments to Mozilla for searches.

      And Web DRM? Of course it's going to be a HTML standard very soon because IE, Safari and... ding! Chrome are going to be supporting it fully with 80% marketshare and people will blame Firefox if Netflix doesn't work in it and recommend you switch to Chrome to see movies! iOS, Android and Windows Phone, BBOS will add support for 100% tablet and phone support for the DRM.

      Chrome on Chromebook already has the EME DRM module. Firefox and Opera are powerless to stop it. We have already seen this play out with the h.264 HTML5 video support in Chrome fiasco when Google promised it would drop H.264 from Chrome to push WebM but did not and Mozilla was left holding the bag with WebM and had to recently had to eat crow and add support for patent encumbered H264. The web is owned by the corporates, not individuals anymore, there was some hope when Firefox was at 40%, not anymore. And we all willingly gave them the power by believing in "open" and "do no evil" and switching in droves.

      • by smash (1351) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @09:40PM (#43747661) Homepage Journal
        Chrome != Chromium
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I switched from Firefox to Chrome for a simple reason: porn. With Chrome, it was possible to have both private windows and regular windows open at the same time, and in Firefox, it wasn't.

        Well, now Firefox does have that capability, and wouldn't you know it, its market share is ticking back up again.

        • I honestly think firefox is ticking back up because a lot of technical people are becoming more emotionally distant with google. Google used to be the big cuddly tech buddy who valued clever technical solutions to make life easier. While they still do that, most of our impressions of google have shifted to dark advertising shadow-master seeking mental leverage on us. It's all emotional.

    • I use Chromium instead of Chrome to avoid all the Google phone-home tracking. I just want a browser, not corporate nuptials.

  • Fine by me (Score:2, Insightful)

    by geek (5680)

    Firefox is on the decline. I really do hope they switch gears and get Firefox up-to-par again. I would really hate to see Chrome dominating the web like IE once did. Mozilla just seems more interested in Rust and FirefoxOS these days. I know they are capable of doing more than one thing at a time but Firefox needs some serious love, I'd like it to be the focus again.

    • by Threni (635302)

      IE dominated because back then everyone used Windows. Those days are over. People are using Chrome because it's fast, actively developed and seems reasonably secure - at least, security isn't just an afterthought. I used to use Firefox but the mobile versions were always huge, slow and just not as good as the alternatives (Dolphin, stock and Chrome on any of the Android phones I used), and syncing between devices always asked for details I just didn't have. There are other non-Chrome browsers, even on m

      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        by cultiv8 (1660093)
        actually I use chrome because every time I go to google homepage it asks me to install it and I get tired of clicking "remind me later". Install now is so much easier than saying no.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Well, I found it actually easier to say no...to Google as my search engine of choice, that is. I switched to https://duckduckgo.com and have never since looked back.

      • Re:Fine by me (Score:4, Interesting)

        by pmontra (738736) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @06:01PM (#43745485) Homepage
        Yes, everybody was using Windows (me too) but I remember that I left Netscape for IE5 because IE5 was so much better than Netscape 4 (IE4 was a little worse). IE6 was a good step forward, it killed Netscape and then the development stopped. Firefox appeared after a few years and was so much better than IE6, so I switched again. Chrome is a little faster than Firefox now, but the gap is getting narrower and its versions of NoScript, AdBlock, Firebug are worse so I'm sticking to Firefox. I'll end up installing it from some repository if Ubuntu switches, not a problem.
        • by smash (1351)
          Pretty much same here. For all the IE hate we have, its easy to forget what the alternatives were back in the day. Another reason IE was so popular was the IEAK which made it easy for ISPs to pre-configure dial up settings for their users and bundle a browser all pre-configured out of the box. This was FREE, I'm pretty sure back in the Netscape days, that sort of thing required a license.
      • by smash (1351)
        No, IE dominated because of a few reasons - dialup - it was "good enough" (from an end user perspective) and a browser was several hours to download over dialup. It was needed for Windows update to work. And, like it or not, many corporate web apps were built with it. Also, it was configurable via group policy, so enterprises like it as it enables them to ensure end user browsers are configured in a sane state (security zones, proxy settings, etc.).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Fine by me too, because we've decided to replace Ubuntu next time we do a major install. Canonical has made one to many bone headed decision for our tastes.
      • Re:Fine by me (Score:4, Interesting)

        by interval1066 (668936) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @07:17PM (#43746487) Homepage Journal
        Right. Switched to Mint after canonical's switch to Unity. Never have looked back.
        • by smash (1351)
          Have only had a brief play with unity and don't get why so much hate? Yes it is dumbed down significantly. I still have a shell, it worked out of the box, and i haven't had to touch a configuration file yet? Things don't have to be hard to use to be powerful. Besides, if you don't like it, switch to another desktop environment?
          • by X0563511 (793323)

            Yes it is dumbed down significantly.

            That is exactly why. We can't understand it for you, we can only explain it.

        • by LoRdTAW (99712)

          Instead of switching distros I simply switched desktops by first moving to Xfce and then to my present choice, Mate. Simply because Canonical makes dumb desktop decisions does not mean I have to abandon my distro.

    • Until Chrome gets a solid NoScript-ish plugin, I'm sticking with Firefox. ABE and a few other NoScript features keep me happy.
      • by preflex (1840068)

        Until Chrome gets a solid NoScript-ish plugin, I'm sticking with Firefox.

        ScriptSafe [google.com] is a solid NoScript-ish plugin.

        In many ways, I actually prefer it over NoScript.

        • Except you're missing out on ABE and some of the more advanced features of NoScript. ScriptSafe also hasn't been updated in over five months. The last time I used it, it had some pretty frustrating bugs that made me go back to Firefox and NoScript. Maybe as it improves, I'll give it another shot, but not now...
    • Re:Fine by me (Score:5, Informative)

      by Microlith (54737) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:42PM (#43745261)

      How is Firefox on the decline? I use it on all of my primary systems and it's as snappy as ever. In fact it's so good that I find Chrome offers no advantages and lacks useful tools like Noscript.

      • I'll give you one reason its on the decline, sort of (actually, I think that's overstating the state of it but yeah, its getting a little stupid.) Updates, fast and furious. They're updating ff so much a release graph looks like their graphing the motion of a nervous umbrella. Enough already. I really don't need to have my hour disrupted with another ff update. The software needs to be updated this often? Seriously?
        • Re:Fine by me (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ChronoReverse (858838) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @07:55PM (#43746881)
          And so we replace it with Chrome who updates even more quickly?
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Why not switch to the ESR/long-term release? Or just turn off the automatic updates until you are ready for them (preferences -> advanced, update, check for updates but let me choose when to install them).

        • Re:Fine by me (Score:4, Informative)

          by evilviper (135110) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @08:56PM (#43747373) Journal

          They're updating ff so much a release graph looks like their graphing the motion of a nervous umbrella. Enough already.

          The Mozilla folks decided to make the public at-large their new beta-testers. That's not entirely unusual in the Open Source world.

          But they do have a far more "stable" release you can use, instead. The ESR release works great, doesn't get all the new cruft, and generally just works. It's the version of Firefox in RHEL/CentOS repos, so most users are using it. There's no reason not-to go with ESR, except that Mozilla makes it hard to find:

          https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/organizations/all.html [mozilla.org]

        • by kthreadd (1558445)

          Firefox is updated about 1-2 times per year. We're at Firefox 17 right now and in a couple of months Firefox 24 will be released. Only use the glorified snapshots released in the meantime if you want to test what's new before you deploy the upcoming release.

      • by mythix (2589549)

        I have noscript on chrome running? (NotScripts)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Firefox isn't on the decline, people just aren't paying attention to it anymore. You make it sound like they haven't been spending two years rewriting their Javascript engine, garbage collecting, HTML page layout rendering, and a multitude of other things.

      While they're modernized their core browser and catching up to Chrome, they're also working on FirefoxOS, asm.js, and a whole host of other things. Just because you haven't been keeping up doesn't mean you're correct to say they're "declining".

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by interval1066 (668936)
      Its still my go-to browser for now but yeah, all the weird version nonsense and the updates every few hours make it more of a pain in the ass than the useful thing it once was. But chrome or chromium? blah. I don't get why people use it as much as they do, chrome aint all that in my opinion.
    • by Cinder6 (894572)

      Every once in a while, I go and evaluate all of the major browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, IE). I just finished a several-month evaluation of Firefox. While it is very good, you're right--it's just not as good as Chrome. The Mac version has a number of integration problems (doesn't use system scrollbars or rubberbanding, for example), Mac and Windows both have sync issues (constantly telling me it can't sync; also a draconic requirement to enable sync on various devices), and the lack of the omniba

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:26PM (#43745087)

    ... I just switched back to Firefox after years with Chrome. The ol' girl has just gotten so good in these last few version; it's dev tools are damn near up to snuff with Chrome's-- and something, I can't quite put my finger on, is "nicer" about it. The way it handles animations just seems smoother to me. Plus I'm fearful of a Webkit/Blink only world. When there are monopolies standards go out the window, I'm looking at you Micro$oft.

    I wonder if others are doing the same (switching back to FF), and they'll be reverting their decision here in a couple years... Hard to say, the browser wars are long from over...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I switched to Chromium for quite a while because some of my friends liked it, and I tried to put up with all the extra Javascript-enabled crap that was running because the JS-limiting options are very poor compared to NoScript running on Firefox.

      Eventually I just couldn't take it anymore, and I had to switch back to FF. There's only so much suffering you can put up with, unless you're a true masochist.

      Nothing but nothing beats a combination of Firefox with NoScript, FlashBlock, AdBlock and Ghostery add-ons

      • by Isaac-Lew (623)
        All of those add-ons (or an equivalent) appear to be available for Chrome, & apparently they're compatible with Chromium (at least on Windows).
    • by ericcc65 (2663835) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @06:33PM (#43745913)

      I switched back to firefox for a few reasons. Can't remember them all at the moment but here's a few:

      * Sound on chrome was turning to crap after having it open a while on linux.
      * I can install firefox in user space without root.
      * Firefox actually seemed more stable and user friendly on my tablet than Chrome.
      * Mouse gestures exist on linux unlike on Chrome
      * Better access to create/use bookmarks through the sidebar than Chromes ugly approach
      * Native PDF viewer now exists

      • SessionRestore is reliable...

        • by ericcc65 (2663835)

          I think that was another reason, although I think I finally tracked down an extension on chrome that did it properly.

      • Does the PDF viewer run acceptably fast on a modern machine?

        I'm running a 9yo machine and pdf.js takes forever to render. When Okular is embedded (kparts integration), it's snappy.

        pdf.js might be a good choice on Windows where you have that Adobe monstrosity updating itself every few days (I have used sumatra in the past) but KDE's viewer runs faster on old Linux desktops. :-)

        • by ericcc65 (2663835)

          It runs reasonably fast. Sometimes I notice a lag or some problems, I think the Chrome one is better. But it's good enough that it's not an issue for me. I don't know why but I just hate opening a separate pdf or having another program embedded. Bookmarks and typical search keys not really working is one reason.

    • by gentlemen_loser (817960) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @07:09PM (#43746403) Homepage

      ... I just switched back to Firefox after years with Chrome. The ol' girl has just gotten so good in these last few version; ...

      Interestingly enough, I have just recently done the same. Don't get me wrong - Chrome is a great browser by all means. From a technical standpoint, I view them both as equals. However, given two equals, I will choose the browser that does not nag me to log into a Google account that I do not otherwise need "for a better experience".

    • by Anonymous Coward

      A few favourite features I like about Firefox:

      1. Youtube downloaders
      2. adblockers - sure, Chrome has them now, but just like AdAway they'll be gone soon
      3. easy autoscroll on Linux. Chrome requires an extension for this basic functionality

      Good for Ubuntu for weighing the choices, and double-good on 'em if they keep the Fox.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Firefox works fine, comes with a wide variety of good extensions, and seems to be more configurable via about:config. Not only that, the privacy options are more obvious. As far as I can tell, the only way to get decent privacy settings with chromium by default is with command line arguments.

  • Irrelevant? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Luthair (847766) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:40PM (#43745231)

    I can't but help think this decision is largely irrelevant to the majority of Ubuntu users. Unless I've somehow missed the news of Linux taking over the mainstream desktop, most users are technically savvy and undoubtedly already have their own browser preference and the knowledge to install it rendering discussions of upgrade paths largely irrelevant.

    Sure Firefox users may dislike the extra step, but on the otherhand Chromium users will presumably be pleased that they no longer need to install it afterwards.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by houghi (78078)

      majority of Ubuntu users [...] are technically savvy

      Mod that as funny.
      Sure, there are some, perhaps even many, but most? Nah.

      (I can take the down mods. I have Karma to burn)

      • by Raenex (947668)

        If you can take downmods, then just post your statement without invoking the reverse-mod pleading.

    • this decision is largely irrelevant to the majority of Ubuntu users

      It's a whitewash to make it look like a 'considered' decision while Canonical is drooling over the potential tablet market. Not only is the decision irrelevant, the publicising of the decision is irrelevant and the front page on /. only announces how irrelevant Ubuntu has become.

    • most users are technically savvy

      All the technically savvy Ubuntu users left for other distros after the Gnome 3 fiasco.

      • Some of us are lazy to do a fresh install.

        I'm still using the same HD I ripped out of a dead laptop from 2008, originally running Intrepid.

        raring's KDE runs well enough that I don't care to upgrade to vanilla debian testing.

      • by 0ld_d0g (923931)

        So dont use gnome3. Whats the big deal?

  • by duckgod (2664193) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @05:40PM (#43745237)
    Message to Firefox developers: Please stop adding features that someone else can do with addons. For the life of me I can't figure out why Firefox started developing its own set of developer tools when Firebug is still one of the best tools on the market.

    I beg of you to please strip anything out of Firefox that is not part to the web browsing experience and put it back in as a plugin if you have to. Just focus on being a web browser and having the best plug in interface possible.
    • If I had modpoints you'd get 'em!

      Don't get me wrong, Firefox is still my preferred browser, but I so wish it would slim down a bit. You know, be a browser instead of a kitchen sink. Then again, I'm a vi user, not an emacs user... ;)

    • Because developers add features that scratch their itch? This open source software, have we heard of it and how it works? "Added developer tools to Firefox" is an outstanding feather in the hat for any resume. Are you going to tell a Firefox developer that she can't enhance her career like that?
    • Use Pale Moon. It's the Firefox you are asking for.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Because firebug was keeping people on old versions of firefox. Add ons are great but the users Mozilla really needed on nightly and beta releases were not even on the latest release just because of firebug.

    • by pne (93383)

      I beg of you to please strip anything out of Firefox that is not part to the web browsing experience and put it back in as a plugin if you have to. Just focus on being a web browser and having the best plug in interface possible.

      The funny thing is, wasn't that what Firefox (or Phoenix, back then) originally set out to do? Strip anything out of the Mozilla browser suite (now Seamonkey, I think?) that is not part of the web browsing experience and allow people to put it back in as a plugin if they want to?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If they try to force me to use Chrome, I will have to go find another distro.

    Here's my current short list of things required to make Ubuntu usable:

    • sudo apt-get -y install gnome indicator-applet-session compizconfig-settings-manager
    • sudo /usr/lib/lightdm/lightdm-set-defaults -s gnome-classic
    • gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences button-layout 'menu:minimize,maximize,close'
    • gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface ubuntu-overlay-scrollbars false

    After installing indicator-applet-session:

    1. Winkey-Alt-Right
    • by pmontra (738736)
      That is more or less what I did. I also deleted the top panel and moved everything into the bottom one.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Then what is the point of using Ubuntu at all?

        • by 0ld_d0g (923931)

          I guess because it has the maximum amount of software available (well.. default repos anyway).

  • Chromium is the default in the current Ubuntu, besides which, installing Firefox is trivially easy on any Ubuntu desktop installation, see on my current Ubuntu desktop:

    Chromium: Version 25.0.1364.160 Ubuntu 13.04 (25.0.1364.160-0ubuntu3)

    Firefox 21.0: Mozilla Firefox for Ubuntu canonical - 1.0
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 16, 2013 @06:16PM (#43745687)

    How does one get from:

            shortcomings of switching to Chromium
                    data migration from Firefox isn't too obvious,
                    extensions don't migrate between browsers,
                    Chromium isn't supported on all architectures (e.g. PowerPC),
                    the browser doesn't work with the Orca screen reader
                    and doesn't integrate well for accessibility reasons,
                    there is no native PDF plug-in,
                    and worse performance under memory pressure.

    to:

            the switch to Chromium will happen in the name of a better user experience

    (oh that's right, Ubuntu are the people who thought Unity was a better user experience ;-)

  • I really could give a rat's fat patoot which is the "default" browser as long as I can choose the one I want. It's not like Windows where there are applications tying into the browser framework, or where you must use the default browser to download updates.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Thing is, that's exactly the real possibility here: they might build apps that rely on Chromium to the detriment of other browsers, in an Internet Explorer kind of way (at least on their Touch platform).

  • by OhANameWhatName (2688401) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @09:26PM (#43747557)
    For the last while, Firefox has improved and performed well. A while back the Firefox team made an interface change to the browser which made it harder to use. I posted a note to the team talking about why it was wrong etc. They thanked me, and changed it back. That's more that can be said for the Ubuntu team.

    This is just another excuse for unification across the Ubuntu platforms which is the Ubuntu headlong charge into obscurity. Nighty night Ubuntu, fare thee well.
  • I mean, the trend is to remove choice and features and pretend that configuration makes it too hard for the poor lusers (ala, gnome3).

    One bug with chromium that has been marked as WontFix for this very reason, is issue 11612 [google.com]. "You can install an extension (that doesn't work in most situations you need it to, such as in the default about:blank)!". As bad as firefox has been getting since version 2, at least *that* particular feature still can be turned on.

    But I do have to ask, WhyTF would anyone want an in

    • by Anonymous Coward

      1) Users don't always have a PDF viewer installed (if a decent one is even available on their platform).
      2) PDF.js isn't Firefox-specific, and runs fine in other browsers
      3) If you're complaining about this, then why not complain about Google bundling a PDF viewer and Flash?
      4) Unix didn't intend for there to be no alternatives to things
      5) Browser aren't Unix, they're document viewers, which is what PDFs are
      6) Why have SVG when there are better vector-graphics tools for platforms? Why have MathML when we have

    • WhyTF would anyone want an inbuilt PDF viewer?

      A browser is supposed to display whatever I click on - any file, any format. If it can play sound, play video, display photographs, display text... then why not a PDF? Seems strange to have one document format that it *cannot* display, and requires an external application to render.

      Or did you want the browser to call an external program for things like .gif, .mov, .aiff - anything that is not plain old .html ??

      • by tconnors (91126)

        WhyTF would anyone want an inbuilt PDF viewer?

        A browser is supposed to display whatever I click on - any file, any format. If it can play sound, play video, display photographs, display text... then why not a PDF? Seems strange to have one document format that it *cannot* display, and requires an external application to render.

        Or did you want the browser to call an external program for things like .gif, .mov, .aiff - anything that is not plain old .html ??

        Yes please, because those dedicated programs I have

      • WhyTF would anyone want an inbuilt PDF viewer?

        A browser is supposed to display whatever I click on - any file, any format.

        Well.. No it's not. :)

  • The most important reason why I use Mozilla Firefox is because it is Mozilla Firefox. Mozilla is one of the most important organizations for protecting our rights on the web. We are actively witnessing our freedom disappear from every aspect of our lives, including our Internet freedom. Google only protects our freedom when it happens to align with their business goals. They are profit driven, and that means our rights are their bargaining chips. I prefer the motivations of Mozilla and everything they repre

  • Firefox provides a consistent user experience on all hardware targets which ubuntu loves to emphasize. The best analogy I could give is this decision is like Canonical deciding to remove vi/emacs from the repository and announcing it will be using microsoft notepad as the default programmer's editor. Firefox has matured a great deal while chromium is still a little one in terms of age. Replacing X.org with wayland when X-Window has been around for 30 years and evolving/maturing is nonsensical. Wayland will

  • Mint? Maybe LMDE? Or siduction?

Premature optimization is the root of all evil. -- D.E. Knuth

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