Chromium test (two days without Firefox)

With Firefox becoming fully-fledged, I wasn’t on the look-out to try another browser. Firefox is a well-done application for all it has to do. I can’t say I’m a complete friend of Firefox as the two huge security exploits in the last year will always keep me a bit leary. IMHO, something so predominantly geared on the internet can’t have these types of ommisions. But like good friends we learn to forgive and move on, and Firefox seems to have patched our ways.

When people began doing the “OMG Chrome” thing, I held short, but not because Google has never betrayed my trust (as for as my knowledge goes). For such a influential and in-position company, this begets me a tremendous respect. As one former execuative of AIG said though, “We just got too big.” And it’s true, one bad grape taints the wine. Perhaps I’m just too paranoid, but I didn’t want to touch the thing until I knew that hax0rhig didn’t come tromping into my living room. Curiousity, however, creeped in short of my expectations and I have been taken quick glimpses of Chromium the last two months. And, in this time, Chromium has made some some good gains.

It’s a bit too early to make comparisons, Chromium may not even be considered beta yet by the developers. But lately a lot of pieces have come together to make Chromium closer to becoming an everyday browser. For example, it’s gotten proper font rendering, all the options work now, and (as far as I tested) it no longer hangs. I was interesting in seeing if Chromium could be used two days as my regular browser.

The first thing I’ll say (like everybody else) is that it is fast. Now having a 64bit Firefox with tracemonkey I can see what they mean when they say how much of an improvement faster javascript rendering makes. I did a sunspider test on the new Firefox and got 1600 score. Running the same test with Chromium got me a 1200 score. This may look like a pretty big difference but in reality I couldn’t really tell. On espn, gmail, wordpress dashboard, load times were about the same. Possibly because they are both really fast, and possibly Firefox’s Gecko rendering engine is a little faster with HTML than Webkit is. Not sure.

One of most apparent difficulties I had with Chromium was that it has no setting for minimum font size. I found alot of sites that still like to use pixel size font settings (oh, Arial 8, we love you), so that at times I’d get very large fonts while other fonts had me rocking forward to be able to read them. Not sure this will be fixed anytime soon either as (if I remember right) the news Windows version didn’t have this feature either. Though some fonts may have been small, overall they were a more clear to read. Firefox has some built-in font rendering which isn’t bad but somehow it conflicts with my fontconfig settings and the fonts look a little bit worse than they do in other applications.

Chromium also does good on screen real-estate. The address bar that can also do searchs is a great idea in keeping things simple. I found it’s history search to be not as good as Firefox’s at finding the most used addresses but possibly this is because it imported Firefox’s and didn’t have the statistics about how often they were used.

I think Google is going to have to look at layout though. Chrom(e|ium) uses a new tab to get easily to a new page if you don’t want to use the address bar (or don’t know the address). In the new tab are nice thumbnails of commonly used sites and a bookmark bar on top. But I often found myself wanting to get to a bookmark from an already opened page which required a couple extra steps. I’d also like to see the title bar come back. Currently the title only shows on the tab and a good portion of it can’t be read.

Firefox does better with it’s find search. Why Google didn’t implement the ‘/’ I haven’t figured out yet. Firefox’s extensions though may make it the most popular browser out there. I don’t use many of them myself (NoScript, theme, Dictionary) but realize they might be the main reason Firefox is getting more popular. Besides that though, I’d say these two browsers are about equivicable at least in functionality. I didn’t get to test every site I commonly visit but on a couple sites Chromium does shows that it doesn’t have quite as good of flawed HTML/CSS fixing as Firefox does. But for the most part browsing was comfortable and felt like it did in Firefox. I don’t plan on leaving Firefox (there’s really no reason to), but with as far as Chrome has come so far, it’s be interesting to see where Chrom(e|ium) is in a year or two.

About Gen2ly

<3's linux

Posted on 2009-09-30, in Linux, Timely. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Jonathan Dahan

    The only thing I miss in ‘/’ for search. The speedup over firefox is very noticeable, especially for startup. Userscripts work, as does syncing bookmarks with google (if you’re into that). It does fullscreen flash. Overall the browser works well enough for me to switch and not feel restricted, so the speedup was enough for me to uninstall firefox. Thorough review, and I agree on all of your points (except needing a titlebar).

    Sunspider: 550ms with chromium-bin-27385 (64-bit).,33,34,31,30%5D,%223d-morph%22:%5B32,32,26,25,26%5D,%223d-raytrace%22:%5B28,28,27,27,28%5D,%22access-binary-trees%22:%5B2,3,3,3,3%5D,%22access-fannkuch%22:%5B15,16,15,15,15%5D,%22access-nbody%22:%5B24,19,20,19,19%5D,%22access-nsieve%22:%5B5,4,5,4,5%5D,%22bitops-3bit-bits-in-byte%22:%5B3,3,3,3,4%5D,%22bitops-bits-in-byte%22:%5B9,9,8,9,9%5D,%22bitops-bitwise-and%22:%5B12,13,12,12,13%5D,%22bitops-nsieve-bits%22:%5B17,16,16,17,16%5D,%22controlflow-recursive%22:%5B4,4,4,4,4%5D,%22crypto-aes%22:%5B12,10,10,11,10%5D,%22crypto-md5%22:%5B11,11,11,11,11%5D,%22crypto-sha1%22:%5B11,11,11,10,11%5D,%22date-format-tofte%22:%5B38,57,34,34,35%5D,%22date-format-xparb%22:%5B54,51,53,51,56%5D,%22math-cordic%22:%5B25,24,25,24,25%5D,%22math-partial-sums%22:%5B22,22,22,22,23%5D,%22math-spectral-norm%22:%5B10,9,9,10,9%5D,%22regexp-dna%22:%5B13,13,13,13,12%5D,%22string-base64%22:%5B17,17,17,18,18%5D,%22string-fasta%22:%5B30,30,30,31,31%5D,%22string-tagcloud%22:%5B36,36,36,36,35%5D,%22string-unpack-code%22:%5B55,57,55,58,59%5D,%22string-validate-input%22:%5B39,38,37,38,38%5D%7D

  2. You can set a minimum font size in Chromium if you edit the config files manually.

  3. @ Jonathan

    Yeah, I hadn’t considered syncing bookmarks. That is one extension I have yet to install after I reinstalled linux. Thanks for letting me know of that as I didn’t know that Chromium had that ability. As for your Firefox benchmark are you using 32bit? I believe tracemonkey is enabled by default but it’s possible it might have to be enabled manually with ‘’. For 64bit look at my previous blog.

    @ Brian

    Ah, cool. Didn’t know that was possible… Hmm

    Update: Ah yes much better. Minimum font size can be added in: ~/.config/chromium/Default/Preferences

  4. dont use system title bar!

  1. Pingback: Links 02/10/2009: Australian Moves to GNU/Linux, Ubuntu 9.10 Reaches Beta | Boycott Novell

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