Chromium (web browser)
The Wikipedia homepage on Chromium 36
|Developer(s)||The Chromium Project|
|Preview release||Git rolling release / 15 April 2015|
Linux (+GCC v4.6 & +GTK v2.24 & +Glibc 2.15)
OS X (10.6 and later)
Windows (XP SP2 and later)
Android (4.0 and later)
28.0 MB (Linux x86)
30.8 MB (Linux x86-64)
27.7 MB (OS X)
21.9 MB (Windows)
16 MB (Android)
|License||BSD license, MIT License, LGPL, MS-PL and MPL/GPL/LGPL tri-licensed code, plus unlicensed files.|
Chromium is the open-source web browser project from which Google Chrome draws its source code. The browsers share the majority of code and features, though there are some minor differences in features and they have different licensing.
The Chromium Project takes its name from the element chromium, the metal from which chrome plating is made. Google's intention, as expressed in the developer documentation, was that Chromium would be the name of the open-source project and that the final product name would be Chrome; however other developers have taken the Chromium code and released versions under the Chromium name. These are listed under community packages.
One of the major aims of the project is for Chromium to be a tabbed window manager, or shell for the web, as opposed to it being a traditional browser application. The application is designed to have a minimalist user interface. The developers state that it "should feel lightweight (cognitively and physically) and fast".
Differences from Google Chrome
Chromium is the name given to the open-source project and the browser source code released and maintained by the Chromium Project. It is possible to download the source code and build it manually on many platforms. To create Chrome from Chromium, Google takes this source code and adds:
- A restriction that disables extensions not hosted on the Chrome Web Store (for Windows users on Chrome's stable and beta update channels)
- Integrated Adobe Flash Player (proprietary license and code)
- The Google and Google Chrome names (both registered trademarks)
- An auto-update system called GoogleUpdate (some, such as the Debian or Ubuntu community builds of chromium, rely on the package management system of the OS as an alternative)
- An opt-in option for users to send Google their usage statistics and crash reports
- RLZ tracking when Chrome is downloaded as part of marketing promotions and distribution partnerships. This transmits information in encoded form to Google, including both when—and from where—Chrome was downloaded. In June 2010, Google confirmed that the RLZ tracking token is not present in versions of Chrome downloaded from the Google website directly, nor in any version of Chromium. The RLZ source code was also made open source at the same time (previously it was proprietary—and although the source is now open the feature was not migrated to Chromium) so that developers can confirm what it is and how it works.
By default, Chromium only supports Vorbis, Theora and WebM codecs for the HTML5 audio and video tags. Google Chrome supports these as well as the patent-encumbered AAC and MP3 codecs. On 11 January 2011, the Chrome Product manager, Mike Jazayeri, announced that Chrome would no longer support the H.264 video format for its HTML5 player. In October 2013 Cisco announced that it was open-sourcing its H.264 codecs and will cover all fees required. As of December 2013, Chrome still supports H.264. Linux distributions that distribute Chromium may add support for other codecs to their customized versions of Chromium.
The Google-authored portion of Chromium is released under the BSD license, with other parts being subject to a variety of different open-source licenses, including the MIT License, the LGPL, the Ms-PL and an MPL/GPL/LGPL tri-license.
Because Chromium is the open-source project that results in releases of Google Chrome, the histories of the two are intertwined. Chromium is a project, with all releases developmental, with Chrome being the official stable release.
Google Chrome was first introduced in September 2008 and along with its release the Chromium source code was also made available allowing builds to be constructed from it. The initial code release included builds for Windows and OS X, as well as Linux, although the latter was at a very early stage of development and lacked complete functionality. Chromium 1.0 was released in December 2008 and with it Chrome was removed from beta status for Windows only.
Upon its first release in September 2008 Chromium was criticized for storing saved passwords in a manner so that any casual user of a computer can easily read them from the GUI. Chromium Users have filed many bug reports and feature requests asking for a master password option to access stored passwords, but Chromium developers have consistently insisted that this provides no real security against knowledgeable hackers. Users have argued that it would protect against co-workers or family members borrowing a computer and seeing the stored passwords in clear text. In December 2009, Chromium developer P. Kasting stated: "A master password was issue 1397. That issue is closed. We will not implement a master password. Not now, not ever. Arguing for it won't make it happen. 'A bunch of people would like it' won't make it happen. Our design decisions are not democratic. You cannot always have what you want."
In January 2009 the first development versions of Chromium 2.0 were made available, featuring a bookmark manager and support for non-standard CSS features, including gradients, reflections and masks.
In May 2009 the first alpha Linux version of Chromium was made available. In reviewing that alpha version Ryan Paul said that it was "still missing features and [has] lots of rendering bugs, but it is clearly moving in the right direction." The first developer releases for Chrome on the Linux and OS X platforms were made available in June 2009, although they were in a very early stage and lacked Adobe Flash, privacy settings, the ability to set the default search provider and even printing at that point. In July 2009 Chromium incorporated native theming for Linux, using the GTK+ toolkit to allow it fit into the GNOME desktop environment.
Chromium 18.104.22.168 was the first Chromium 4.0 version and appeared on 22 September 2009 with Chrome 4.0 publicly released in December 2009. Both brought support for extensions, plus synchronization of bookmarks along with Chrome beta versions for OS X and Linux. The all-platform market penetration of Chrome/Chromium 4.0 combined was at 6.73% by the end of April 2010.
Gentoo Linux has had Chromium in the official repository since September 2009. FreeBSD has had Chromium available since late 2009 and a port has been available from the FreeBSD ports system since late 2010. OpenBSD has had Chromium available for i386 and amd64 platforms since late 2009. Although OpenBSD supports many browsers, recent releases only officially highlight Chromium and Firefox.
Chromium 5.0 was released on 26 January 2010 with 5.0.306.0 as the initial version. Google Chrome 5.0 followed on 25 May 2010 and provided stable (non-beta) releases for all platforms. At that time the web magazine, OMG! Ubuntu!, reported that Chrome/Chromium usage was at 36.53% for Linux browsers, compared to 55.52% for Firefox and 2.82% for Opera.
Lubuntu used Chromium as the default browser since its first release, Lubuntu 10.04 in April 2010, until Lubuntu 13.10 in October 2013 when it moved to Firefox instead. Ubuntu started offering Chromium through the Ubuntu Software Center starting with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS as part of the 'universe' repository. The initial version available in April 2010 was 5.0.342.9, with new versions delivered as updates. Puppy Linux has had Chromium available starting with Chromium 5.0.342 on Lucid Puppy 5.0.0, based on the Ubuntu application repository. Maemo, Nokia's former 5 mobile operating system, offered a proof-of-concept version of Chromium with an unmodified user interface which was released on 11 April 2010.
Chromium 6.0 was introduced in May 2010 with the first release version 6.0.397.0. In July 2010 Chromium 6 daily builds introduced new features focusing on user interface minimalism, including a unified single page and tools menu, no home button by default (although user configurable), no "go button", a combined "reload/stop" button, bookmark bar deactivated by default, an integrated PDF reader, WebM/VP8 support for use with HTML5 video and a smarter URL bar. Chrome 6 was released in both a stable and beta version on 2 September 2010 as version 6.0.472.53. The switch to 6.0 brought security fixes, a slightly updated user interface, improvements to form autofilling, synchronizing of both extensions and autofill data, along with increased speed and stability.
7 October 2010 marked the release of Chromium 8.0, seven and a half weeks after that of Chromium 7. The initial release in this series was version 8.0.549.0. The development of Chromium 8.0 focused on improved integration into the Google Chrome OS and improved cloud features. These include background web applications, host remoting (allowing users centrally to control features and settings on other computers) and cloud printing. On 12 January 2011 versions of Chrome and Chromium prior to version 8.0.552.237 were identified by US-CERT as "contain[ing] multiple memory corruption vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities include a stack corruption vulnerability in the PDF renderer component, two memory corruption vulnerabilities in the Vorbis decoder and a video frame size error resulting in a bad memory access...By convincing a user to view a specially crafted HTML document, PDF file, or video file, an attacker can cause the application to crash or possibly execute arbitrary code." This vulnerability was publicized after Chrome version 8.0.552.237 was released fixing these problems, to alert users to upgrade versions as soon as possible.
Chromium 9.0 was released on 23 October 2010, just 16 days after Chromium 8.0, with 9.0.562.0 as the initial version. The new version introduced an infobar refresh feature with the aim of preventing website spoofing attacks. Reviewer Wolfgang Gruener noted that the first builds of Chrome 9 have now doubled in size between Chrome 3 and Chrome 9 to a compressed download of 28.2 MB, calling it "notably more bloated". Gruener also criticized the seemingly arbitrary numbering breaks between major versions, saying, "even by more progressive standards, the version numbering may be a bit excessive. By the end of this year, Google will have gone through seven or eight different browser versions. Some may doubt the benefit of that strategy." Chromium 9 introduced two new test features in November 2010 intended to load web pages more quickly, "pre-rendering" and "false start", plus sandboxing for Adobe Flash. Stable releases of Chrome and Chromium were version 9.0.597.84 and included features such as Instant Search which allows the URL bar to act through Google Instant when Google is the default search. Other features included GPU/hardware acceleration, default 3D graphics though WebGL and access to the Chrome Web Store on the New Tab page.
Chromium 10.0 was released on 3 December 2010, with 10.0.601.0 as the initial version. It introduced 18 new features, including "Instant Type" searching as well as "GPU accelerated compositing". Development of "Webpage pre-rendering" was reduced to an inactive while selectable "snap start" was introduced.
In February 2011, Google’s Jeff Chang announced to Chromium developers that Google was considering further large-scale interface changes. Under consideration were eliminating the "Omnibox" URL bar and combining the two line layout which has tabs on one line and navigation buttons, menu and URL bar on a second line into one single line, thus freeing up more screen space for content. (Such a layout was later adopted by Internet Explorer 9.) Chang acknowledged that this would result in URLs not always being visible to the user, that navigation controls and menus may lose their context and that the resulting single line could be quite crowded. Other proposed changes include being able to log into multiple accounts in different windows and improved URL suggestions from the user's history. By the middle of 2011, after some experimentation, the developers decided that eliminating the URL bar was too risky and shelved the idea.
Chromium 12.0 was released on 11 March 2011, with 12.0.700.0 as the first version. Initial changes in the first versions of Chromium 12 included
In March 2011 Google announced directions for the project for the year, including a plan for seven new major versions, planning to end the year with Chrome 17 out. Development priorities will focus on reducing the browser's size, integrating web applications and plug-ins, cloud capabilities and touch interface. The size is a concern to developers, who have noted that Chrome 1 was 9.0 MB in Windows download size, compared to Chrome 10 for Windows at 26.2 MB, as a result they have created a "bloat taskforce". Larger download sizes are a problem for a number of reasons, as Chrome Developer Ian Fette explained: "1. We do distribution deals with Chrome, where we bundle Chrome with other products. These get difficult when our binary grows. 2. We see increased download failures / install dropoffs as the binary grows, especially in countries with poor bandwidth like India. India also happens to be a very good market for Chrome (we have good market share there and growing), so that's also very problematic."
With the release of Chromium 12.0.742.0 on 19 April 2011 the interface incorporated many changes, the most significant since Chromium 6 was released. A multi-profile button was introduced allowing users to log into multiple Google and other accounts in the same browser instance. The new tab page was also redesigned and separated into four horizontally scrollable screens, providing access to most visited pages, Google apps, plus two identified pages. The page reload button was also redesigned along with minor changes to the URL bar. The first stable version of Chrome and Chromium 12 released was 12.0.742.91 which brought malware detection and support for hardware-accelerated 3D CSS transforms.
Chromium 13.0 was released on 26 April 2011, with 13.0.748.0 as the initial version. Early versions of Chromium 13 included a menu button to enable users to switch between multiple Google profiles, multi-selection of tabs and an improved omnibox engine. This version also included several minor GUI changes, including a slightly lightened menu bar. By early May 2011 the results of Google's attempts to reduce the file size of Chromium were already being noted. Much of the early work in this area concentrated on shrinking the size of WebKit, by removing Wireless Markup Language (WML), the Image Resizer, datagrids and the Android build system. The largest Chromium nightly build was 35.3 MB on 15 April 2011, but this was reduced to 29.9 MB by 20 April 2011. Later builds of Chromium and Chrome in mid-May 2011 introduced the optional "compact navigation view", aimed at mobile device users. This view combined the tab and URL/menu bars into one bar, by making the URL bar hide when not in use, thus saving 30 pixels of vertical space.
Chromium 14.0 was released on 2 June 2011, with 14.0.783.0 as the initial version. This initial version included
about:flags testing support for preload instant search, permitting the user to preload the default search engine used in instant search and GPU-acceleration on all pages. Default changes includes 2D-accelerated canvas and the task manager incorporated a frames-per-second counter. There was also support for the Page Visibility API. By the time development of Chromium 14 had been completed and Chrome 14 stable released this version also incorporated Mac OS X Lion scrollbar compatibility and "presentation mode". It also had support for the new Web Audio API and Google Native Client (NaCl) which permits native code supplied by third parties as platform-neutral binaries to be securely executed within the browser itself.
Chromium 15.0 was released on 28 July 2011, with 15.0.837.0 as the initial version. Work in this version included integrating the profiles and synchronization features, including moving synchronization into the main menu and introducing a profile manager. Synchronization data will be encrypted by default. Chromium 15 also expands webpage pre-rendering. Dan Bailey of Conceivably Tech stated about this version and the development of it, "it is obvious that Google is plugging along and is fine-tuning its browser...Chrome isn’t surrendering its perception of the most advanced browser today anytime soon." As development wound up in early September 2011 Chromium 15 also gained a "self-crashing" feature that crashes the browser if a close command is not completed in 25 seconds, smooth scrolling when using the space bar, automatic pre- and auto-logins to Google's own web pages, task bar logos to show different profiles, greatly enhanced synchronization customization, including optional search engine synchronization and improvements to the prerendering process.
Chromium 16.0 was released on 10 September 2011, with 16.0.877.0 as the initial version. Early in the development of version 16 an experimental Offscreen Tabs Module was incorporated which allows simultaneous user interaction with multiple web pages. This version for OS X included a move to Google's Skia 2D graphics library in place of Apple’s core graphics as previously used. This aligned Chromium for OS X with the Windows and Linux versions.
Chromium 17.0 was released on 19 October 2011, with the initial release version 17.0.913.0. This version introduced HTTP pipelining as a test feature to increase web page load speed, starting with build 106364. Development on Chromium 17 near the end of November 2011 included the Gamepad API, specifically intended to allow game inputs from joysticks and other gaming-oriented pointing devices. Other work included being able to move profile icons directly to the desktop in Windows.
Chromium 18.0 was released on 7 December 2011, with the initial release version 18.0.964.0. Nightly builds of Chromium 18 showed that this cycle included work on menu organization. In January 2012 the builds reworked the Options menu to eliminate the Basics, Personal Stuff and Under the Hood pages and unite them into one menu named options. The new menu simplifies selections and hides privacy and proxy settings as well as security certificate management. Additional features included omnibox suggestion visualization.
Chromium 19.0 was released on 2 February 2012, with the initial release version 19.0.1028.0. Support for Android was added. Chromium 19 development led to the release of Chrome 19.0.1084.46 on 15 May 2012, which incorporated many bug fixes along with a tab synchronization feature that allowed users to have the same tabs open on Chrome on different devices through "signing into Chrome".
Chromium 20.0 was released on 29 March 2012, with the initial release version 20.0.1086.0. This development cycle resulted in the release of Google Chrome 20.0.1132.43 on 26 June 2012, which was predominately a bug-fix update with few new features.
Chromium 23.0 was released on 9 August 2012, with the initial release version 23.0.1231.0. This development cycle resulted in the release of Chrome 23.0.1271.64 on 6 November 2012, which incorporated easier website permissions, plus GPU accelerated video decoding for Windows.
Chromium 24.0 was released on 20 September 2012, with the initial release version 24.0.1272.0. This development cycle resulted in the release of Chrome 24.0.1312.52 on 10 January 2013, which incorporated support for MathML which allows mathematical equations to be displayed, HTML 5 datalists for date and time, as well as a large number of security and bug fixes. This release marked a total of a 26% increase in page loading speed achieved in the releases over the previous 12 months.
Chromium 26.0 was released on 20 December 2012, with the initial release version 26.0.1366.0. This development cycle resulted in the release of Chrome 26.0.1410.43 on 26 March 2013. This release incorporated new "Ask Google for suggestions" spell checking feature improvements, which includes grammar and homonym checking, desktop shortcuts for multiple users on Windows and asynchronous DNS resolver improvements for Mac OS-X and Linux.
The first new release for 2013 was Chromium 27.0, which first came out on 14 February 2013, as 27.0.1412.0. This development cycle resulted in the release of Chrome 27.0.1453.93 on 21 May 2013. This version incorporated a page loading speed improvement of an average of 5%, the chrome.syncFileSystem API as well as improved prediction ranking and Omnibox predictions and improved spelling correction.
Chromium 28.0 was released on 28 March 2013, with the initial release version 28.0.1455.0. This development cycle resulted in the release of Google Chrome 28.0.1500.45 for Linux only on 17 June 2013. On Linux this version requires Ubuntu 12.04, Debian 7, openSUSE 12.2 or Fedora Linux 17 and later releases to run.
Chromium 29.0 was released on 9 May 2013, with the initial release version 29.0.1502.0. This development cycle resulted in the release of Chrome 29.0.1547.57 on 20 August 2013. This version incorporated improved Omnibox suggestions, the ability to reset user profiles, new applications and extension APIs, as well as improvements in stability and performance. The Blink layout engine was introduced on 4 April 2013 in Chromium 28.0.1463.0.
Chromium 30.0 was released on 27 June 2013, with the initial release version 30.0.1549.0. This development cycle resulted in the release of Chrome 30.0.1599.66 on 1 October 2013. This incorporated improved image searching, new applications and extension APIs, performance and stability enhancements as well as 50 bug fixes.
Chromium 31.0 was released on 13 August 2013, with the initial release version 31.0.1600.0. This development cycle resulted in the release of Chrome 31.0.1650.48 on 12 November 2013. This version of Chrome introduced only bug fixes with no new features.
Chromium was considered as the default browser for Ubuntu 13.10, which was released on 17 October 2013, but Firefox remained the default browser due to problems keeping the Chromium packages up to date.
Chromium 32.0 was released on 25 September 2013, with the initial release version 32.0.1651.2. This development cycle resulted in the release of Chrome 32.0.1700.76 for Windows and Chrome Frame and 32.0.1700.77 for Mac and Linux on 14 January 2014. This release incorporated tab indicators for sound, webcam and casting, visual changes to the version for Windows 8 in Metro mode, automatically blocking of files detected as malware, several new apps and extension APIs plus improved stability and performance.
Chromium 33.0 was released on 6 November 2013, with the initial release version 33.0.1701.0. This development cycle resulted in the release of Chrome 33.0.1750.117 on 20 February 2014, which was predominately a bug-fix release.
Chromium 34.0 was released on 18 December 2013, with the initial release version 34.0.1751.0. This cycle resulted in the release of Chrome 34.0.1847.116 on 8 April 2014. This version included the ability to import supervised users onto new computers, additional new apps/extension APIs and a different appearance for Chrome in Windows 8 Metro mode.
Chromium 36.0 was released on 31 March 2014, with the initial release version 36.0.1917.0. This development cycle resulted in the release of Chrome 36.0.1985.125 on 16 July 2014. The release included improvements to notifications, a new incognito and guest NTP design, a new crash recovery bubble, an application launcher for Linux and improvements to stability and performance as well as 26 security fixes.
Chromium 37.0 was released on 11 May 2014, with the initial release version 37.0.1986.0. This development cycle resulted in the release of Chrome 37.0.2062.94 on 26 August 2014. Chrome 37 included Windows DirectWrite support to improve font rendering, new apps/extension APIs and improvements to stability and performance along with 50 security fixes.
Chromium 38.0 was released on 22 June 2014, with the initial release version 38.0.2063.0. This development cycle resulted in the release of Chrome 38.0.2125.101 on 7 October 2014. Chrome 38 included just bug fixes and improvements to stability and performance.
Chromium 39.0 was released on 17 August 2014, with the initial release version 39.0.2126.0. This development cycle resulted in the release of Chrome 39.0.2171.65 on 18 November 2014. Chrome 39 included 64-bit support for Mac computers, some new application and extension APIs as well as stability and performance enhancements.
Chromium 40.0 was released on 28 September 2014, with the initial release version 40.0.2172.0. The development cycle resulted in the release of Chrome 40.0.2214.91 on 21 January 2015. This version was predominately a bug-fix release with 62 security issues addressed.
Chromium 41.0 was released on 9 November 2014, with the initial release version 41.0.2215.0. This development cycle resulted in the release of Chrome 41.0.2272.76 on 3 March 2015. This version was predominately a "stability and performance" and bug-fix release with 51 security issues addressed.
Chromium 42.0 was released on 12 January 2015, with the initial release version 42.0.2273.0. This development cycle resulted in the release of Chrome 42.0.2311.90 on 14 April 2015. This release included just some new application and API support and improvements to stability and performance. In deference to its version number Google also claimed that it contained, "the answer to life, the universe and everything".
Chromium 43.0 was released on 22 February 2015, with the initial release version 43.0.2312.0.
Chromium snapshots are built automatically several times a day by Buildbot Buildslaves and made available as binary code releases. Once a snapshot has been built, it is placed in a directory in the chromium-browser-snapshots root directory and it is automatically tested. If the snapshot passes the automated testing, it is placed in a directory in the chromium-browser-continuous root directory.
Other browsers based on Chromium
- CodeWeavers CrossOver Chromium is an unofficial bundle of a Wine derivative and Chromium Developer Build 21 for Linux and OS X, first released on 15 September 2008 by CodeWeavers as part of their CrossOver project.
- Comodo Dragon is a rebranded version of Chromium for 32-bit Windows 7, Vista and XP produced by the Comodo Group. The developer says that it provides improved security and privacy features.
- CoolNovo, called ChromePlus prior to January 2012, is a Chromium-based browser for Windows and Linux. It adds features such as mouse gestures, link dragging and IE tabs. (Last version: 29 August 2013 with core version 27.0.1453.110)
- Cốc Cốc is a freeware web browser focused on the Vietnamese market, developed by Vietnamese company Cốc Cốc, based on Chromium open-source code for Windows. According to data published by StatCounter in July 2013, Cốc Cốc has passed Opera to become one of the top 5 most popular browsers in Vietnam within 2 months after official release
- Dartium is a special build of the Chromium browser that includes the Dart VM, maintained by Google.
- Epic Browser is a privacy-centric web browser developed by Hidden Reflex of India and based on Chromium source code.
- Flock was a browser that specialized in providing social networking and had Web 2.0 facilities built into its user interface. It was based on Chromium starting with version 3.0. Flock was discontinued in April 2011.
- Mail.ru Internet (Russian: Интернет) is a Russian web browser made by Mail.ru company. It features a tight integration with mail.ru services.
- Opera began to base its web browser on Chromium with version 15.
- Rockmelt was formerly a release of Chromium for Windows Mobile and iOS under a commercial proprietary licence. It integrated features from Facebook and Twitter, but was discontinued in April 2013, and fully retired at 10am PT on July 31, 2013. On August 2, 2013, Rockmelt was acquired by Yahoo! Rockmelt’s extensions and website were shut down after August 31, 2013. Yahoo! plans to integrate Rockmelt’s technology into other products.
- Sleipnir is a Chromium derivative browser for Windows and OS X. One of its main features is linking to Web apps (Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, etc.) and smartphone apps (Google Map, etc.). It also boasts what it calls "beautiful text," and has unique graphical tabs, among other features.
- SRWare Iron is a freeware release of Chromium for Windows, OS X and Linux, offering both installable and portable versions. Iron disables certain configurable Chromium features that could share information with third parties as well as additional tracking features that Google adds to its Chrome browser.
- Titan Browser is a browser created by the US software company Titan Browser Corp, for Windows operating systems and includes a search engine, a Facebook share button and tool bar blocker.
- Torch is a browser based on Chromium for Windows. It specializes in media downloading and has built-in media features, including a torrent engine, video grabber and sharing button.
- Yandex browser is a browser created by the Russian software company Yandex for Linux, OS X and Windows. The browser integrates Yandex services, which include a search engine, a machine translation service and cloud storage.
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