Google Chrome is a fast and lightweight web browser that has already become the 3rd most used browser on the planet. OK, so at 4.4% of the market it isn’t threatening to topple Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Internet Explorer, but it has pushed my beloved Opera out of that position in a fairly short time.
Basically, it is a very slimmed-down browser with less screen real estate being taken up by things like a menu bar, and in independent tests has proven to be much faster than other browsers. For this speed boost, Google employs its own technology which many experts claim have Mozilla and Microsoft scrambling to match, let alone better.
Also, security is something the developers take very seriously, and once again has proved equal or superior than its counterparts in independent tests.
For more detailed technical info and browser comparisons, just search online with your favourite search engine (funnily enough, Google comes to mind), but you can check out the Wikipedia article for a good introduction.
To install Google Chrome, simply go to the download page and specify either 32- or 64-bit Ubuntu, and proceed to download the .deb installer. You’ll notice at the bottom of the user agreement it says:
Note: Installing Google Chrome will add the Google repository so your system will automatically keep Google Chrome up to date. If you don’t want Google’s repository, do “sudo touch /etc/default/google-chrome” before installing the package.
Note that simply downloading the installer won’t do this, but the repos will be added during installation. And you may notice that if you don’t want the repos added, there is a command outlined to prevent this, though I would suggest you let Google Chrome update itself, to keep it stable and secure.
Once you’ve downloaded the file, double-click it to proceed with the install.
In the first dialogue that appears when you start Google Chrome for the first time, you’ll see you can import settings from your browser. If you have Firefox, then this is simple, but if you have another installed, like Opera, then it may not appear in the list (in my case, I have multiple web browsers, and only Firefox was available to import from).
You’ll also notice you can have crash information sent back to the Google developers; the default (surprisingly) is not to send any info, but if you plan to keep using it and want to help improve stability and performance, you might consider enabling this before proceeding.
If you have Firefox open, it will complain that it could not import settings due to this. Simply close Firefox, then click the Continue button to proceed with importing your Firefox settings, bookmarks and passwords.
When Google Chrome finishes loading, it will likely open your Firefox “Home” page as the first tab, as well as an introductory page for the program itself. If you look to the first pic, you’ll see it also grabs any links you added to Firefox toolbars.
When you click the + button at the end of the tabs to open a new tab, you will find a customisable page for links which is similar to Opera‘s Speed Dial. Unlike the latter, however, you can’t really add new links at will, as it is more like a history of most frequently visited pages, but you can remove thumbnails for those you don’t want there (and also “Keep on this page“ any you want there permanently). It’s worth spending a few minutes customising this page (once you’ve surfed a few sites), as it can be quicker than opening a blank tab and then finding the link in your Bookmarks menu, like you’d do in Firefox when opening a frequently used page.
And if you’re wondering where your imported bookmarks got to, just click on the Other Bookmarks button on the far right.
When you go to your favourite sites, you’ll see any login information would have been imported, and you’ll be ready to log into Facebook, MySpace or eBay with a click.
And if you’re wondering about customisability, while the window border obviously does not use your GTK or Compiz/Emerald theme, note that you can skin Google Chrome with the many themes available, like you can do with Firefox and Opera, as well as install all sorts of useful extensions. Once the browser is installed, go to the settings/spanner button to the far right of the address bar (it will say “Customize and control Google Chrome” when you hover your cursor over it), choose Extensions from the menu, and on the page that appears telling you you have none, click the “browse the gallery“ link to look for goodies to install (use the Search field to look for “theme“ and “skin“ if you just want to change the look and not wade through hundreds of other extensions).
As you can see, it is no major pain setting up Google Chrome, and currently is just a 12.8Mb download, so you may want to give it a try, even if you just want a backup browser in case Firefox misbehaves and you don’t want to reboot. And if you’ve been having issues with your browser, or just prefer something more lightweight yet full-featured, this just may be what you’ve been looking for.
Note: Currently the Linux version is still a “beta”, but on my 64-bit Ubuntu 9.10 “Karmic Koala” system, seems perfectly stable.
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