Google's Chrome for Linux: Test Version with Installation Warning

Jun 06, 2009

Google presented the first test version of its Chrome for Linux and Mac OS X on June 5.

The Chromium Developer Channel has .deb packages for Debian and its Ubuntu derivative. Users of other systems are fairly much on their own, although Google assures them that unpacking the .deb files by hand "may work" and the final version should -- like Google Earth -- be available for countless other Linux flavors. The 64-bit version seems to be just a repackaged 32-bit version and first accounts give it a somewhat less than stellar review.

Google warns that installing the .deb packages adds the Google repository so as to extract updates automatically. To avoid this, use sudo touch /etc/defaults/google-chrome to create a dummy file before installing. The German sister publication <link href="http://www.linux-community.de">Linux Community</link> has put the 32-bit version through a quick test under Ubuntu 9.04.

Chrome, like its Chromium community version, is not yet feature complete. Supports for plugins such as Java and Flash, print functions and Google Gears are missing. Many dialog windows still have "TODO" content or are altogether empty, such as the Element Inspector. Google is clear about its "developer preview channel" status ("where ideas get tested and sometimes fail"), clearly not meant for Linux end-users.

What really works pretty well is page rendering. We loaded various pages with considerable AJAX dynamic content and they rendered just as well as those with complex stylesheets. The speed was already impressive: Chrome felt noticeably faster than a cutting-edge Firefox on the same computer.

Even though Google mentions that the immature Chrome "may still crash frequently" and to send in crash reports, we couldn't manage to disquiet it in any way.

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