I have switched to Chromium as my primary web browser
3 January 2011
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A while ago I started using Opera as both my web browser and mail client. When I made the switch I was really pleased with the overall look of the browser and its functionality. It looked better than other web browsers, including Firefox and Chromium (at least I thought that at the time) and so I was happy to have an alternative. Opera might be free as in beer but it’s definitely not free as in freedom. For reasons that I have never seen explained anywhere, even its bug tracker is not publicly available. You’re welcome to report a bug but you have no way of knowing beforehand if anyone else has already reported it, nor if it anyone’s working on it. After using it for a while I found that it had some strange quirks with several web sites I use regularly, including GMail. After finding out that I couldn’t do anything to fix or avoid these, I simply began ignoring them.
Recently a work colleague suggested I use Chrome or Chromium instead. I hesitated because I had never been happy with Chromium’s font handling because within the content window, all fonts looked slightly fuzzy. I had gone looking for help and finally found out that it was a known bug. I followed the bug for a while but there didn’t seem to be much progress on it, nor were the developers particularly worried about it. It bothered me, though, and so I had been avoiding Chromium. I tried it again, though, and was surprised to find out that the bug had apparently disappeared. Fonts were now nice and crisp, at least as good as those in Firefox, for example.
I have been using Chromium now for about a week as my primary browser and am very happy (so far). I was frustrated that there was no option to force web pages to use your selected Serif and Sans Serif fonts. I did quite a lot of Googling and finally found out how to force this. It involved running Chromium with a command-line switch to enable user CSS, then editing the file produced by including this switch – Custom.css. It seemed a difficult way of doing something that’s so simple in Firefox. I have also been surprised by how often I have tried an extension and found that the entire desktop environment has frozen solid, requiring me to turn the laptop off and on again. I believe I have resolved most of these issues by “downgrading” the visual effects I use in the GNOME desktop environment. I can’t quite understand, though, why Chromium can cause such a “difficult” problem when the design states that every tab runs in a separate process. Anyway I have finally settled on just a few extensions that I find useful and don’t freeze the desktop environment.
I’ll keep on using Chromium but of course I reserve the right to switch to anything else when I want to. Now I need to find an email client, a function for which I had been using Opera. I don’t really like Evolution, Thunderbird or Claws Mail but I will keep trying.