I downloaded Chromium (google chrome, but purely FOSS, so there is a build that can be grabbed directly from the Arch repos) to play with this weekend, and it is way more promising than last time I played with it. In particular, I wanted to see if the touted speed benefits were real, and see if there was a viable alternative after the massive UI (”Open in new tab” is a critical feature for tabbed browsers…), resource consumption, and stability regressions in Epiphany after it’s switch from Gecko to WebKit.
I should note that my browser usage is a little weird; I keep one Firefox window per topic (usually 3-4) on my first virtual desktop, plus an instance of Epiphany on the second virtual desktop, which is used for mail (it stays logged in to my google account, Firefox doesn’t), banking and various other things I’d rather not have logged in alongside my normal browsing, or brought down when I manage to crash Firefox.
As for Chromium itself (I’m using “Chrome” and “Chromium” interchangeably here):
* Responsive. The UI is WAY more responsive than Firefox, I’m yet to have a “did that work?” moment with it.
* The default new tab behavior that places text entered to a new tab into a google search is correct as far as I’m concerned, I’ve had Firefox set up that way for ages.
* Per-tab processes to prevent broken pages from taking down the browser.
* Extensions in separate processes. This is probably the best feature, Flash crashes all the time on my machines, and I hate having to restart Firefox to get it back.
* Incognito windows. This is a partial solution to the logged in/not logged in issue that makes me keep two browsers up.
* Perfect default tab opening behavior; tabs created from “Open link in new tab” open next to the parent tab, tabs created by ^+T open at the end of the bar. I’ve never managed to make that work consistently right in Firefox, despite having a nice extension to do so.
* That “innovative” UI that doesn’t integrate with the desktop theme, and gets clumsy when you turn on the “Use System Title Bar and Borders” option in the vain hope that it will help.
* That same “innovative” UI that puts the tabs in that awkward fitts-law worst case scenario place close enough to the edge of the screen to require long travel, but not close enough to get edge benefits. I am not alone in this opinion, would it really be so bad to add an option to fix that?
* No scrolling tab bar. I usually have several windows with <20 tabs each, but if I spawn tabs for all the interesting unread threads in a forum or somesuch, I really like to be able to read the titles.
* Ravenous memory and cycle consumption: if you think Firefox is bad about consuming resources, just wait until you see Chrome. Then again, the latest builds of Epiphany have a nasty habit of bugging out taking up some CPU time constantly, and Chrome is way better than that.
* Awkward bookmark-group behavior. There is a “open all in new window” feature (which is very cool), but it extends to sub-folders (which is not).
Overall, it is definitely my new second-choice browser, and I’ll keep it installed to use when I have problems with Firefox. I might even switch despite the UI issues; some of the above features are really nice, and adblock works just as well with chrome (this is very important for my primary browser). It should be neat seeing the next few versions of Chrome and Firefox, real competition (sorry IE and Opera, you don’t really count) is a wonderful thing.
EDIT: Apparently adblock doesn’t work quite as well in Chrome, Firefox adblock actually prevents ad material from downloading, Chrome adblock simply prevents it from rendering. Not an issue with a fast connection and fast machine, but you might want to go ahead and fix your hosts file to get rid of the more egregious offenders anyway.