The Chromium codebase is widely used. Microsoft Edge, Opera, and many other browsers are based on the code. Other parties compile it and release browsers with the Chromium name and logo. Moreover, significant portions of the code are used by several app frameworks.
Chromium's user interface is minimalist, as one of Google's initial goals was to make the browser "feel lightweight (cognitively and physically) and fast".
New Chromium versions are released daily. There is no "stable" Chromium version available for download unlike other web browsers. A stable version has to be compiled or downloaded from a third-party. However download instructions are available to get the Chromium developer build used in the stable release of Google Chrome.
While Chrome has the same user interface functionality as Chromium, it changes the color scheme to the Google-branded one. Unlike Chromium, Chrome is not open-source, so its binaries are licensed as freeware under the Google Chrome Terms of Service.
Google refers to this project and the offshoot Chromium OS as "The Chromium Projects", and its employees use @chromium.org email addresses for this development work. However, in terms of governance, "Chromium Projects" are not independent entities; Google retains firm control of them.
Google Chrome debuted in September 2008, and along with its release, the Chromium source code was also made available, allowing builds to be constructed from it.
Upon release, Chrome was criticized for storing a user's passwords without the protection of a master password. Google has insisted that a master password provides no real security against knowledgeable hackers, but users argued that it would protect against co-workers or family members borrowing a computer and being able to view stored passwords as plaintext. 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."
An alpha build of Chromium 3 for Linux
Version 6 introduced features for user interface minimalism, including a unified single page and tools menu, no home button by default (although user configurable), a combined reload/stop button, bookmark bar deactivated by default. It also introduced an integrated PDF reader, WebM and VP8 support for use with HTML5 video, and a smarter URL bar.
Version 8 focused on improved integration into 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.
In February, Google announced that it was considering large-scale user interface (UI) changes, including at least partial elimination of the URL bar, which had been a mainstay of browsers since the early years of the Web. The proposed UI was to be a consolidation of the row of tabs and the row of navigation buttons, the menu, and URL bar into a single row. The justification was freeing up more screen space for web page content. Google 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. However, by August, Google decided that these changes were too risky and shelved the idea.
In March, Google announced other directions for the project. Development priorities focused on reducing the size of the executable, integrating web applications and plug-ins, cloud computing, and touch interface support. Thus a multi-profile button was introduced to the UI, allowing users to log into multiple Google and other accounts in the same browser instance. Other additions were malware detection and support for hardware-accelerated CSS transforms.
By May, 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, the image resizer, and the Android build system. Subsequent work introduced a more compact mobile version that reduced the vertical space of the UI.
Other changes in 2011 were GPU acceleration on all pages, adding support for the new Web Audio API, and the Google Native Client (NaCl) which permits native code supplied by third parties as platform-neutral binaries to be securely executed within the browser itself. Google's Skia graphics library was also made available for all Chromium versions.
The sync service added for Google Chrome in 2012 could also be used by Chromium builds. The same year, a new API for high-quality video and audio communication was added, enabling web applications to access the user's webcam and microphone after asking permission to do so. Then GPU accelerated video decoding for Windows and support for the QUIC protocol were added.
Other changes in 2013 were the ability to reset user profiles and new browser extension APIs. Tab indicators for audio and webcam usage were also added, as was automatic blocking of files detected as malware.
Version 69 introduced a new browser theme, as part of the 10th anniversary of Google Chrome. The same year, new measures were added to curtail abusive advertising.
Starting in March 2021, the Google Chrome sync service can no longer be used by Chromium builds.
Browsers based on Chromium
In addition to Google Chrome, many other notable web browsers have been based on the Chromium code.
Blisk is a browser available for Windows 7 and later, OS X 10.9 and later that aims to provide an array of useful tools for Web development.
Brave is an open-source web browser that aims to block website trackers and remove intrusive internet advertisements.
CodeWeaversCrossOver Chromium is an unofficial bundle of a Wine derivative and Chromium Developer Build 21 for Linux and macOS, 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 8.1, 8, Windows 7 and Vista produced by the Comodo Group. According to the developer, it provides improved security and privacy features.
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 its official release.
Dissenter is a fork of Brave browser that adds a comment section to any URL.
Epic Browser is a privacy-centric web browser developed by Hidden Reflex of India and based on Chromium source code.
Falkon an open-source Qt-based GUI, using the Chromium-based QtWebEngine.
qutebrowser a Qt-based GUI with Vim-like keybindings, using the Chromium-based QtWebEngine.
Sleipnir is a Chromium derivative browser for Windows and macOS. 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.
Slimjet: A Chromium-based web browser released by FlashPeak that features built-in webpage translation, PDF viewing capability and a PPAPI flash plugin, features usually missing from Chromium-based browsers currently not supported.
SRWare Iron is a freeware release of Chromium for Windows, macOS and Linux, offering both installable and portable versions. Iron disables certain configurable Chromium features that could share information with third parties and additional tracking features that Google adds to its Chrome browser.
Torch is a browser based on Chromium for Windows. It specialises in media downloading and has built-in media features, including a torrent engine, video grabber and sharing button.
ungoogled-chromium is a browser based on Chromium. Initially developed for Linux, versions for Windows and MacOS were later added. It removes Google services built into Chromium.
Vivaldi is a browser for Windows, macOS and Linux developed by Vivaldi Technologies. Chromium-based Vivaldi aims to revive the rich features of the Presto-era Opera with its own proprietary modifications.
Flock – 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.
Redcore – a browser developed by Chinese company Redcore Times (Beijing) Technology Ltd. and marketed as a domestic product that was developed in-house, but was revealed to be based on Chromium
Rockmelt – a Chromium-based browser for Windows, macOS, Android 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 31 July 2013. On 2 August 2013, Rockmelt was acquired by Yahoo! Rockmelt's extensions and its website was shut down after 31 August 2013. Yahoo! plans to integrate Rockmelt's technology into other products.
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