Everyone is undoubtedly familiar with Chrome, the proprietary web browser developed and maintained by Google. It was introduced in 2008.
However, not many people are conversant with Chromium. Some would like to know whether it is affiliated with Chrome (since it has the same logo, but with a blue color), while others wonder whether or not it is a malicious program.
Today, we’ll uncover the facts. So please keep reading to find out what you need to know.
What Is Chromium?
Chromium is a free and open-source web browser that is maintained by the Chromium Project. Open-source means that developers are allowed to modify the source code. However, only trusted members of the Chromium Project development community are allowed to do this.
Chrome, on the other hand, is based on Chromium – Google developers added their proprietary code to the Chromium source code. What this implies is that Chrome has a number of features that are absent on Chromium (for instance, it supports more video formats and installs updates automatically).
Note: The same scenario applies with the Chrome OS (the operating system for Chromebooks). Google developed it from the Chromium OS, which is also an open-source project.
What’s the Difference Between the Chromium Browser and Google Chrome?
While Chrome is built on the Chromium source code, it is expected that Google will have added more than a few improvements. So let’s take a look at how the two browsers differ:
- Google Update: On macOS and the Windows OS, when you download Chrome, you get an additional background app that updates the browser automatically (On Linux, however, an update is done using the standard software management tools).
Chromium lacks this automatic update feature. You’ll have to get updates manually. However, since it comes directly from the Chromium Project source code, updates are made available more frequently and the browser constantly changes.
- Adobe Flash (Pepper API): Chrome comes with a sandboxed PPAPI Flash plug-in which is updated periodically with the browser. This plug-in is often preferable to the older NPAPI Flash plug-in that’s available on the Adobe website.
Chromium, on the other hand, does not support Flash natively. But you can get the Pepper API (PPAPI) Flash plugin from Chrome and install it on Chromium.
- Closed-source media codecs: Chrome has MP3, AAC, and H.264 support.
Chromium, on the other hand, only includes the free and basic codecs like Theora, Opus, WAV, VP8, VP9, and Vorbis, which can also be found on Chrome. This means that you get to enjoy more media content on Chrome.
To stream videos on sites like YouTube or Netflix using Chromium, you’ll have to install the necessary codecs manually.
- Extension restrictions: While Chromium allows outside extensions, Chrome only accepts those hosted on its Web Store. But you can gain more freedom by enabling the developer mode in Chrome.
- Crash and error reporting: On Chrome, you can choose to send reports to Google when there’s a crash or other errors so that they can analyze the statistics. This crash reporting feature is not present in Chromium, which means you’ll have to perform a bug trace yourself.
- Security Sandbox: Although the security sandbox mode is available on both Chrome and Chromium, the feature is often turned off by default in some Linux distributions of Chromium (NB: Go to about:sandbox to check whether or not it is enabled).
Note: Although Chromium is not branded by Google, it still has many features which depend on Google’s servers. They are enabled by default. For instance, anti-phishing, prediction, a service that corrects a mistyped web address, and many more (You can find them listed on the Settings page). You can also log in on Chromium with your Google account and sync your data.
Which Is Better, Chrome or Chromium?
Is Chromium better than Chrome? The answer depends on what you need in a browser. Chromium is a good choice if you are an advanced user and prefer open-source software.
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But if you need a browser that doesn’t require any special configuration, then Chrome is for you. It has the added advantage of allowing you to enjoy more media content online and access websites that require Flash.
Does Chrome Track My Information?
Chrome has a user-metrics feature that sends information to Google about how you use different components of the browser. This enables them to make certain decisions to improve user experience.
Also, Chrome used to come with a unique client ID. But Google discontinued this in 2010.
Does Chromium Use Less Memory Than Chrome?
Some users report that the memory usage is about the same for both browsers. However, that of Chromium is expected to be slightly smaller since it communicates less with Google.
How Can I Get Google Chrome?
You can install Chrome from the Google Chrome download page (https://www.google.com/chrome/).
How Can I Get Chromium?
If you are a Mac or Windows user, you can get official Chromium builds here. But you should keep in mind that they are bleeding-edge-only and won’t be updated automatically.
If you are a Linux user, you can go through the Linux distribution’s software repositories to install Chromium directly.
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