Google Chrome, Ungoogled?
If you love the Google Chrome browser, but you have nagging doubts about how much data Google is able to collect from you while you're online, then you might be interested in a new web browser that has (almost) everything you like about Chrome, but doesn't phone home to the mothership. Read on to learn about Ungoogled-Chromium...
What is Ungoogled-Chromium?
Google’s Chrome has won the browser war. According to NetMarketShare, Chrome began to run away from its nearest rival, Internet Explorer, in January, 2016, and has held a steady, wide lead since May. Today, Chrome has about 54% of the browser market while second-place IE has just over 19%. Firefox is below 10%, and all the others barely register a blip on the radar.
A big reason for Chrome’s popularity is the huge ecosystem of Google-branded services: Google Mail, Docs, News, Drive, and so on. While they will work with other browsers, they work best with Chrome. Also, they’re all free, at least in basic versions.
But “free” comes with a price: your browsing history and other data about your location, devices you use, contacts, the types of files you keep, and much more. See my article, What Does Google Know About You? This data is used to target advertising more effectively. Some users are not comfortable with that. One user on Github, the open-source software depository, is doing something about it.
If you want to try Ungoogled-Chromium, head over to its release page and scroll down to find the latest version for your operating system. Download the .zip file and extract all of its files to a folder of your choice. Then click on the file chromium.exe to start the browser. (You can make a shortcut for chromium.exe and place it where you wish.)
I tested ungoogle-chromium on a few of the more complex Web sites I visit. Nothing broke, and everything seems to load just as fast as it does in Chrome. But there are some changes to the Chrome experience.
Should You Switch to Ungoogled-Chromium?
I find that I cannot add extensions to Ungoogled-Chromium. Attempts to access the Chrome Web Store from the extensions page in the browser are blocked. Navigating to the store via a search in the Omnibox is possible, but no extensions found in the store can be installed. Instead of the green “Add to Chrome” button, I get a blue “Available in Chrome” button when using Ungoogled-Chromium. Clicking on that opens a tab in which a Google Chromebook ad is displayed.
Incidentally, Ungoogled-Chromium comes with three extensions installed: Bookmarks Manager, Chrome PDF Viewer, and CryptoTokenExtension. All of them were added by the author and are necessary.
The default search engine is Duck Duck Go, doubtless chosen because it does not save users’ search histories as Chrome does. But the default search engine can be changed to whatever you wish in Settings. My browsing history is still available to me via the Settings page. It’s just not shared with Google.
One big problem I see with Ungoogled-Chromium is that it appears to be an experimental project created by a student, for use by himself and friends. As such, it has no support, and lacks the automatic update feature found in Google Chrome.
Overall, Ungoogled-Chromium is a mixed bag of pros and cons. The lack of extensions makes it unacceptable for my daily browsing; your needs may vary. I also would find it cumbersome to check for and manually download new versions (if and when) they are available. There's no guarantee that the project will continue.
Call me gullible, but I believe them. It would be terribly bad news for Google if they were found to be violating this policy, and in all the years I've been using Google products, I've never seen any evidence that they have. Does Ungoogled-Chromium sound like something you would use for your daily browsing? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 28 Oct 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Google Chrome, Ungoogled? (Posted: 28 Oct 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved