We all know about Chrome; it’s undisputedly the leader of the browser market. But have you heard about Chromium? Did you know both Chrome and Chromium are related to each other? While Chrome is the supreme leader of web browsers, Chromium is the one that holds a major chunk of the browser universe together. It is an open source project which forms the foundation for several different browsers, including the new Microsoft Edge. Though they both share a similar name, they are also different in several ways. In this blog, we will highlight the difference between Chromium and Chrome.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
Chrome is a well-known browser globally, with around 63.5% of the market share. In short, more than 6 out of every 10 internet users in the globe use Chrome to browse the net. Although Safari, Edge & Firefox are next on the list, their fame pales in contrast with that of Chrome. Their joint market shares make up less than 1/3rd of Chrome. And thanks to W3Counter’s Browser Share statistics for Oct’ 2020, you can easily see which browsers are presently the most popular:
Now that you understand the kind of monopoly Chrome enjoys in the browser market, it is time to dive deeper into the Chromium vs Chrome topic. In the later sections, we will also discuss how the difference between Chrome and Chromium is relevant to cross browser testing.
Chromium is an open-source and free web browser that is managed by the Chromium Project. Open-source and free means that software developers are allowed to change the source code. But, only the Chromium Project development community’s trusted members are permitted to do this. Chrome, on the flip side, is based on Chromium – developers further included their proprietary code to the source code of Chromium. In other words, Google Chrome has numerous features that are absent in Chromium; for example, it installs updates automatically and supports additional video formats.
The simplest and safest method to download Chromium is to do so from the download page of Chromium. As soon as you open the page, it will automatically recognize your device’s OS and provide the latest compatible edition of Chromium. If that’s not the case, you can also choose it from the list of Operating Systems.
Suppose you are a Linux or Windows user and would like to download an older version of Chromium. In that case, you can simply go to Last Known Good Revision towards the bottom to recover older Chromium editions. For Linux, you can install it straight from the Linux distro’s software repositories.
- Doesn’t track browsing data
- More frequent updates
- Updates need to be downloaded & installed manually
- No built-in support for Media codecs or Flash
As a free platform, Chromium is better for web developers as well as highly-advanced users. There are also no restrictions on what sorts of browser extensions can be included additionally. As Chromium is accumulated from the Chromium Projects source code, it modifies continuously. On the other hand, Chrome has quite a lot of release channels. However, the bleeding edge Canary channel updates not as much repeatedly as Chromium. Routine upgrades are posted on the Chromium Projects site.
While the Chromium browser is more frequently updated than Chrome, such updates must be manually downloaded and installed. This is the major difference between Chrome and Chromium, as there is no system of automatic updates. Chromium does not provide a built-in hold up for Flash. While Adobe Flash is not as prevalent as it once was, some websites do not function perfectly without it. As Flash is not open-source, the Chromium browser doesn’t have built-in support for this. If you wish to use Flash in Chromium, you will have to add or write the necessary code to support it.
Chromium does not support licensed media codecs such as MP3, AAC, and H.264. Without such codecs, you can’t play media in Chromium. If you wish to stream video from websites like YouTube and Netflix, either install these codecs manually or use Chrome. At last, Chromium does not by default have the enabled security sandbox. Both Chromium and Chrome have a security sandbox mode, but in some cases, Chromium has it turned off by default.
This summarizes Chromium’s side of the Chromium vs Chrome story. Now, let’s look into Chrome and the difference between Chrome and Chromium from Chrome’s perspective.
Developed and managed by Google, Chrome is a proprietary browser. It was released in 2008. Chromium and Chrome browser are tied to each other because Google’s Chrome borrows Chromium’s source code. However, the one major difference between Chrome and Chromium is that the code in Chrome can’t be reversed, decompiled, or anchored to create other similar projects.
This is a straightforward process of simply visiting the Chrome website and downloading the browser. The website will choose a compatible downloadable version (for macOS or Windows), and it will be installed within minutes.
- Easier to use and more stable
- Automatically Updates
- Built-in support for media codes and Adobe Flash
- Tracks browsing data and history
- Zero support for extensions not found at its Web Store
For regular users, Google Chrome is perhaps a great choice. Chrome is stable and offers a safe browsing experience owing to the automatic error reports and updates. Unlike its open-source counterpart, it also offers built-in support for media codecs like MP3, H.264, and AAC, as well as Adobe Flash. Besides, Google Chrome’s limitations likely are not visible if you are not a great user. For instance, unlike Chromium, this web browser tracks cookies, history, browsing habits, and other data. However, you can always use the Incognito Mode to remove that data at the end of an online session.
By default, this browser on Mac and Windows only allows you to install extensions that are already downloaded from its Web Store. This distinguishes it from other browsers that enable outside extensions. An open-source platform demands more significant inspection and scrutiny from the user; external extensions are often malicious or untested. If you wish to have the freedom to install extensions from outside the Chrome store, you can use the developer mode. That is all about the difference between Chrome and Chromium.
Apart from the significant difference between Chrome and Chromium we listed above, there are many more Chrome attributes that are missing out on Chromium. The following traits of Google Chrome are not featured in Chromium:
- PDF viewer (Built-in)
- Print preview
- Google Auto-update system for the browser
- Integrated Flash player
- Media codecs to support MP3, H.264, and AAC formats
Other dissimilarities comprise a choice for crash reports, usage stats to be automatically sent to Google servers, and rare advertising from Google, like for the Chromebook. Even with such traits, this web browser still follows the minimalist browser style that promotes a simple to view, lighter interface.
Chrome and Chromium are built on the same framework. Chromium is open-source, while Google Chrome is a proprietary software. The main distinction is the special features that Google adds to Chrome, such as the capability to login to the Google account at the browser level. However, on the other hand, Chromium is a comparatively lightweight and clean browser, while Chrome comprises several additional features such as automatic support and updates for additional video formats.
Chromium and Google Chrome are accessible not just from desktops and laptops but also from Android/iOS smartphones and tablets. Chrome has now turned into the default browser for Android smartphones. And it’s accessible for non-RT Windows 8 devices both as a “metro” app and a traditional app. Also, the Chrome version is obtainable for iOS.
Accessibility on such a surplus of devices allows Google to provide some functionality with Chrome that is not obtainable on Chromium, particularly syncing through “Sign in with Chrome.” Users can seamlessly access their open tabs on one gadget when they shift to a different gadget using the same Google account on both gadgets (as long as they are signed-in to Chrome, not merely to Google.com). On the flip side, Chromium also runs on different mobile devices with its accessibility for Maemo 5 mobile OS for Nokia, Android, and MeeGo’s netbook version.
The sheer variety of devices that use Chrome comprises a major chunk of the smart user market. If people are using laptops or smartphones, they are more likely to use Chrome than other browsers. This makes it even more difficult for a website and web page to render error-free on a user device. If your website is not performing well on a particular device using the Chrome browser, you are more likely to lose that customer to a competitor with a mobile friendly website.
Enter a cross browser testing platform like LambdaTest. This platform allows you to test your website or web page on a combination of 2000+ browser and operating systems, making it absolutely impeccable for your end user!
The best way to do so is by using the Real Time Testing feature offered by our platform. You can simply select the Chrome version, OS, and resolution you want to test your website on, and you will be able to see how it performs in real time!
Here is a list of Chrome browser versions, OS, and resolutions offered by LambdaTest-
It is tricky hard to decide between the feature-rich Chrome and open-source Chromium. For Windows, it is good to use Chrome as Chromium doesn’t come with a steady release, which applies to macOS as well. In Linux’s case – known for its love for open source and free software, Chromium may be the best choice. However, you will need to live with the fact that it does not automatically update, lacks media codecs and Adobe Flash plugin. But, several Linux distributions may provide a modified Chromium, which comes bundled with numerous missing attributes.
Chromium is now being considered the default browser in several Linux distros instead of the browsers like Firefox. Chrome is also accessible for Linux. If you wish to use free software and try to escape any closed-source alternative, then Chromium is an excellent choice for you.
So, Chromium or Chrome? The response depends on what you necessitate in a browser. Chrome is, of course, the better option for most users; however, Chromium can be the right choice for advanced users and for those who place a great value on coding and privacy. But if you require a browser that does not require any special configuration, then Chrome is just for you. Use all the information above and make the right choice!
Happy cross browser testing!