Linux

Get your Google Chrome on in Linux

The Google Chrome developers have released a developer version of their browser for the Linux operating system. Although they warn not to install it yet, the intrepid Jack Wallen has already made the leap and can tell you all about it.

The Google Chrome developers have released a developer version of their browser for the Linux operating system. They warn you NOT to install this browser (for fear it might ruin your life). Of course like any good writer, I ignored the warnings and pressed on. After all, the TechRepublic community needs to know what's going on with Linux and how things fare with our favorite operating system.

Now I have to admit I assumed I would get it installed only to have it seg fault left and right (or worse, not even start up). I, however, was very pleasantly surprised. Not only did it run for me, it ran very well. In fact, I am currently writing this blog with the help of Google Chrome for Linux. I am pretty shocked at just how reliable it is. But will it be reliable for you? That depends.

Install and hope it will run

Installing Google Chrome on Linux is quite easy - IF you are using a distribution that can install .deb files. If you are, you're in luck. Installation is simple. Go to the Chrome Dev Channel and download the appropriate .deb file for your architecture. Once downloaded, open up a terminal and issue the command (from the directory in which the file was saved):

sudo dpkg -i google-chrome*

which will install the package. Now, it's time to cross your fingers. In my case (Elive+Compiz), there was an entry in the Applications | Networking menu. If you can't find one, open up the run dialog or a terminal window and issue the command google-chrome and hope for the best.

With Elive (which is Debian based) Google Chrome has been running like a charm since early Friday evening (June 5). I have not had one crash or freeze. The only issue I have seen so far is that it does not detect my installed flash. The reason for this is that there is no flash support yet. It will come. I only hope as they update this to add flash, it can be updated with the .deb package instead of having to re-install completely. Also the spell check works but it won't replace a word when you select it from the corrected list. Other than that, I haven't come across any deal breakers.

Is this the future of Linux browsing?

If I look at this with an eye for just pure browsing, I would have to say "yes" -- this is the future of browsing. Why? Because once this is released officially, the Firefox developers are going to have to play some serious catch-up. After you experience the speed of Chrome on Linux, using Firefox is like going back to an old Mozilla browser.

But we all know, with regards to Linux, it's hard to look at something with a "pure" filter. No one will be able to deny the speed of the browser. But many Linux users will, in fact, deny the intent and purpose of Google Chrome. What license will the Linux version be released under? Are the conspiracy theorists correct when they say it is "spyware masquerading as a browser"? What do I think? It's a browser, a very fast browser that, once fully released, offers Linux equal footing to Microsoft in the Web browsing arena (and no, I am not making any comparison to Internet Explorer). This is Web browsing that will cut out the "Windows can do this and Linux can not" argument.

It is exciting to see such progress. I realize a lot of Linux users out there aren't the biggest fans of Google. Those fans should at least give Chrome a try so they can see just what they will be missing. I have used Chrome on both Windows and Linux now, and I can say -- without a doubt -- the Linux version will blow away the Windows version. Of course from what I have seen the Linux version already is running better than the Windows version I used, and I'm not supposed to be using the Linux version. (It will probably install Windows on my machine while I am not looking.)

What do you think? Have you used Chrome on Linux yet? Will it usurp Firefox as the browser on Linux?

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

37 comments
dcolbert
dcolbert

On discovery that my G4/933 PPC based Mac was unable to run the Chrome beta, I was very disappointed. Shortly thereafter, I found a dealnews advertisement for a Mac Mini core duo 1.8ghz (2nd gen) for $350. I'd been eyeing a Mac Mini for several years, but refurbs at the Apple Store for $450 still seemed too expensive for me. But this was all of the incentive I needed, and now my G4 has been retired to the basement. A combonation of the right price, and the clear direction that support for non Intel Macs is dwindling, along with the desire to run Chrome on all of my platforms - was irresistable. I can't wait for the final RCs of Chrome Linux and Mac to come out. And while Chrome may be the dominant browser, I'm starting to wonder if Facebook might not be in a better position than Google to leverage the arrival of widespread "cloud" computing.

Mikey mike
Mikey mike

Great article Jack - can't wait to try it and see how it goes. I'll get back to you. Your tips are always good - the one about enlightenment 16 helped me get it up and running. I wonder when 17 will be ready for Ubuntu? - Mikey Mike

dick.helander
dick.helander

if it as good as the window version, it should be okej

marianne.popp
marianne.popp

I downloaded the deb and my gdeb loaded it for me, I did not have to use the terminal command you used. Since I have only been on it for a few minutes, I have moved my firefox bookmarks over, but it did not automatically place the bookmarks toolbar in the blue toolbar of chrome. Also during the time I am typing this comment I have noticed that it does not work well with my keyboard as it will not allow me to use apostrophes. I may not use if as a full time browser, but will work with it off and on until it becomes a better/stable browser, then will make final decision as to whether it will become something full time to me.

kgunnIT
kgunnIT

I have not tried the browser on Linux yet...however, I still like my Firefox. I will probably continue to use Firefox on Linux and Windows.

rngunter
rngunter

I'm glad to finally see the (a) Linux ver. out! I've been using it on XP and love the back-end features that Google has put into making this browser. It's efficiency is wonderful. My favorite aspect is that each tab is it's own process, with all of the web-content out there if a page crashes I don't loose the whole browser anymore, just that tab. And yes, I'm using it right now!

dcolbert
dcolbert

Although I have certain doubts about the Web 2.0 cloud oriented nature of what Google is clearly trying to deliver with Chrome. I find that Chrome is far more competent as a replacement browser for IE than Firefox, Opera, Safari, Mozilla, or any of the lesser alternate browser choices available right now. In particular, Chrome has some very cutting edge features that rise above what IE is capable of currently delivering, and has speed unmatched by any of the current browsers available. I like the ability to quickly create web-app shortcuts on my desktop, and the tabbed interface is one of the slickest around. With that said, Chrome still comes up short against IE for one of the most important "Web 2.0" browsing vehicles available today - to wit, streaming media via Netflix. Now I'm sure I'm going to get a lot of flack on this comment, but for the AVERAGE consumer, NetFlix *is* the premier content delivery method for streaming movies, currently (Not Hula, not YouTube). Between PCs and Xbox Live, NextFlix has a significant lead in this segment among the "non-technical end user". Which is critical. And because of the partnership between Microsoft and NetFlix, Microsoft has a significant lock-in on something *no other NON-IE browser* can (currently)achieve. For any number of reasons that situation may change in the future, but for right now, this is simply the case. I think of my wife, of her friends. 30-something professionals and office workers with advanced degrees and large incomes, who are technically competent, but do not wander from the mainstream sites on the WWW. They're using Netflix... and to use NextFlix, they're using IE. So for now, that remains an IE lock on the market. It could become MORE of a lock or less of a lock in the future, under a number of different scenarios. The frustrating thing to me is, that Chrome is a suitable alternative for 95% of my web browsing needs, and moving cross platform, it makes Ubuntu (Linux has a relative dearth of competent browsing solutions, as evidenced by Firefox being the default canned choice) much more attractive as an alternative OS. I'll make no bones or arguments about it, if you think I am rabidly anti-Linux, I absolutely dislike Firefox and think it failed to deliver on any of the early promises it made. Firefox is really the only viable choice for browsing under Ubuntu (I've got Opera, but not crazy about it, either) - and I simply dislike Firefox. Slow, full of memory leaks, awkward, and overhyped. The idea of Chrome being available multi-platform is exciting - and in my opinion makes Ubuntu tremendously more competitive against Win32 as a desktop OS. If Linux is like a submarine, and Ubuntu is the safest and most reliable, adding Chrome allows your dive (away from the world of Win32) to last much longer before you have to "return to the surface" and fire up IE so that you can do something that only IE can deliver. I'm guardely optimistic that the arrival of Chrome on Linux (and OS X) can only do positive things for both of those platforms, although I'm more reserved in how successful I want to see Google be with their Chrome and cloud-app initiatives. Disclaimer - I've now got the dev-unstable version of Chrome running on my G4 OS-X Mac, and on Ubuntu Portable inside Win XP, as well as the stable on all of my XP/Vista boxes. Having the same (competent) browser cross-platform on all 3 platforms is a nice feeling that brings more unity to all of them.

Jaqui
Jaqui

the heavy clientside scripted web apps chrome is geared to work with are not websites I want to see anyway. take your "rich media" web 2.0 bs and stick it, REAL websites don't need it.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm willing to accept Firefox's slower performance in exchange for several of the plug-ins. Last time I checked, Chrome didn't have any plug-in capability.

pjeet89
pjeet89

The advent of Google Chrome is a historic moment in my opinion. I had used Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6 and 7 for the past 2 computing years when I decided to switch over to Mozilla 3. While I was indeed satisfied overall with the browser it had some issues, which we all know.... But ever since Google Chrome has come my Firefox and Flock browsers are getting rotten because I barely use them now!!! And the same is for the my friends here in India. No wonder Google Chrome is sitting on a potential lion's share of the OS market. It would require its rivals some revolutionary evolution to match Chrome. And if that happens.... what a competition we will have on our hands...!!!

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

I canceled my account once I found out they use silverlight. I refuse to use a media streaming product that doesn't *natively* support my OS of choice. (i know moonlight is silverlight, but it is made by novell and is a version behind (and i think netflix checks your OS as well, not just version of silverlight))

rngunter
rngunter

I am disappointed that it's not supported in Chrome but, as Chrome gains popularity I have a feeling it will be better supported soon. I have similar problems with online GIS (mapping) programs... if I'm not using IE I'm out of luck.

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

You are predictable. So what is your favorite WM, browser, website? I mean tech rep. isn't exactly a slick, lean website by any stretch.

jlwallen
jlwallen

i had a feeling i would get some reaction like that from you jaqui. that's why we love you here in the open source blog. always keeping us in check.

SkyStrike2001
SkyStrike2001

For a web designer/developer, Firefox's add-on is something I cannot make do without. If Google Chrome have add-ons like what Firefox has, maybe I'll consider it

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

I don't see any difference in speed, but I agree with you on the add-ons. I wish it(firefox) worked on my work computer (crashes randomly). Right now I have to use Chrome (refuse to use IE on principle) at work, but on my home Arch install, I will not be switching from Firefox. Chrome isn't my kind of browser.

linuxiac38
linuxiac38

sudo dpkg -i google-chrome fails in Linux Mint. Plus, I really do want to have the plug-in capability that Firefox (SeaMonkey) provide! For the dozen or more converts I save each month, switching them from a trojaned and virused Microshaft machine, to a FAST Linux system, Firefox or Sea Monkey, are already in the Live CD/DVD install build of Ubuntu 9.4, or Linux Mint 6 or 7!

rbees
rbees

I typically use Opera and Chrome does not seam as fast. I am runnig Deb Squeeze64 and I could not change the home page. Also the web site said that the install would add the Chrome repos to my system but it didn't. I also don't like that there are no menus (ie, limited configureability). I am sure that most of this will be fixed in time. I will check it later. For now I will stick with what I use now

Mikey mike
Mikey mike

Jack - worked like a charm - downloaded the deb - (I just used the gnome package installer - click and install) - and it instantly appeared on Applications | Internet. I'm using it to post this reply. Neat. Only problem so far - font rendering crummy. Thanks for another great tip.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

What are the "issues which we all know" about Firefox?

Timbo Zimbabwe
Timbo Zimbabwe

... but I tried it and was pleasantly unimpressed. I'll stick with Firefox.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Verizon, disabled features and crippled phones. Howard Forums hacks and ROMs and all kinds of voodo... back and forth, playing cat and mouse, just to get your bluetooth or GPS working. Bah, I'll just dump them and go to AT&T. I get it... But I don't think NetFlix or Verizon is really moved by our little show of protest. They just go on going on.

jkiernan
jkiernan

I concur, and there's no reason it shouldn't be. In addition, navigation and the message threading on this site is pretty lame.

Jaqui
Jaqui

it's not like my distaste for the bloat in web 2.0 sites isn't well known. :p and the Mozilla based Flock browser is just another web 2.0 focused browser, useless for real browsing to get real content.

jlwallen
jlwallen

you first have to download the deb file before you install it. i don't believe chrome is in any of the repos and probably won't be until it is officially released.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm surprised the statement snuck under the radar this long. The only issue I was aware of was the failure to release RAM when closing tabs / pages, but the memory management has been much better in version 3. 3.5 is due out in the next couple of months; I believe there will be another level of memory improvements then.

Jaqui
Jaqui

my picture isn't what you should be wanting to look at. ;)

dcolbert
dcolbert

Perhaps making Linux *more* like Windows *isn't* the ideal solution resonates with me. :) The more like Windows we make Linux, the more like Windows Linux behaves, down to the creeping bloat, the bundled unnecessary-ware, and the helpless lusers. :) I think I was ahead of the curve on noticing this - but I was also telling everyone that Metallica had sold out when Master of Puppets was released... I'm just a trailblazer. :)

jlwallen
jlwallen

You are correct. Sometimes I think the user-friendly GUI tools have dumbed-down the average Linux user.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I understood your article, it was clear, concise, and pointed me right to where I needed to go. In fact, I knew that Chrome was available for Linux and Mac, but had lost my links to the location. Finding this article got me all set up. My response wasn't addressed to you, Jack, it was addressed to the other guy. It used to be that when you ran into a die-hard Linux fanatic, you could count on him being well informed. That is no longer the case. Now there are dedicated Linux fanatics who can't figure out how to download and install a .deb package. That trips me out. Especially when they're talking trash about Microsoft.

jlwallen
jlwallen

i made it pretty clear in the article how to install the article. i corrected the user because he mistakenly thought to use dpkg as you would use apt-get. re-read the article and the comment and you'll see.

dcolbert
dcolbert

That a guy who is "saving dozens or so converts monthly" from "trojaned and malware infested Win32 installations".... couldn't figure out that he needed to grab the .deb file from the Google Dev source pages and install that way - because it isn't in the repositories? I mean, I'm an anti-Linux MS fanboy, and I've already got Portable Ubuntu under Win XP running both Chromium *and* the Dev Chrome. I'm just saying... I'm not feeling your credibility, Linuxiac. You should get the *nix training wheels off before you start using witty phrases like M$, WinBlowz or *Microshaft* (which is a new one on me... I'll give you points for relative creativity). What happened to the days when being a Linux guru *meant* something?!?

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

I can't wait until 3.5 comes out, it looks like they've done a lot of good clean up.