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?