Using Google’s Chrome browser on Ubuntu

A couple of weeks ago I changed the default browser on my Ubuntu Jaunty laptop from Firefox to Chrome. I had been using Chrome next to Firefox 3.6 for a while and I was willing to give it a shot for my every day browsing. Now that I have been usign it for a while I thought I would write up my experience, the good, the bad and, yes the cliché , the ugly.

I’m using a repository that delivers the daily compiled version of Chrome, currently I’m running 5.x and I’m sure there are some differences between 4.x and 5.x but the differences I have seen are not worth mentioning and they surely didn’t address the bad and ugly I experienced with version 4.x

To use the PPA we have to add the key used and the repository

sudo apt-key adv --recv-keys --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com 4E5E17B5
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:chromium-daily
sudo aptitude update

If you rather use the beta version there is a PPA for that as well:

sudo apt-key adv --recv-keys --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com 4E5E17B5
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:chromium-daily/beta
sudo aptitude update

The daily build is currently at version 5.0.x while the beta channel is as 4.0.x.

Now you can install the browser:

sudo aptitude install chromium-browser

The Ugly

  • You can not select a default font family for when a site has not defined a font family. The default font family for chrome is Serif, which i personally don’t like. In Firefox I have it setup as Sans-Serif.
  • When going to a secure site, sometimes the the SSL certificate is not recognized, which happens in Firefox as well. The ugly is that in order to add the certificate you’ll have to resort to the command line. There is no SSL manager integrated in Chrome. I’ll come back on this later.

The Bad

I have stumbled upon several problems with Chrome, some of them have a solution, which I’ll be giving at the end of this article.

  • No RSS support. By the default the browser won’t recognize RSS feeds and give you the option to add them to your RSS reader. You’ll have to install an extension in order to have this feature.
  • When you open a new tab you get this great screen with thumbnails of sites. You can pin the thumbnails and use it as a quick bookmark page. This is something I consider good, but the bad is that you are limited to 8 sites. In Safari you can select the small, medium, large for the screen and that way have the ability to show 24 sites. The page looks a whole lot cooler in Safari as well.
  • I don’t know of it’s me but I can not get PDF files to open in the browser. I can save them and then open them, but I prefer to just open them immediately, and preferably not in the browser. In Firefox I automatically load PDF file outside my browser in my reader.
  • The developer option. I’m used to Firebug and for me Firebug works just better. I can easily change CSS on the fly without knowing every CSS option+parameter.
  • This won’t effect a lot of people, but I’m missing my Zend toolbar. When developing my WordPress plugins, I use the toolbar for debugging purposes.
  • I have ran into several sites, CNN for example, where there is a font-family assigned but Chrome does not respect the family. It will show the font in Serif even though the CSS assigns it as arial, a sans-serif font. I have filed a bug about this and the answer was, “shows sans-serif for me” and that was it. In Firefox the page is properly shown.

The Good

There are some good things as well

  • Speed. Chrome is WAY faster than Firefox. Not just on sites with loads of javascript but the rendering is faster as well.
  • The layout. I actually like the layout of the browser.

Conclusion

Despite the ugly and the bad I will keep using Chrome as my everyday browser. When I’m developing my plugin I’ll use Firefox. I don’t have a lot of PDF files to open on-line but if I did I would not make the change to Chrome and stick with Firefox. I haven’t run into a site that didn’t work with Chrome yet. I know there are some sites out there that won;t work properly, but I guess I avoid them.

Tips

As mentioned in the ugly there isn’t a SSL manger and you will have to do it on the command line. The explanation given by Chrome it self on how to use it is very bare. For most sites that use SSL the following commands will add the certificate needed.

sudo apt-get install libnss3-tools
sudo apt-get install curl
curl -k -o "cacert-root.crt"   "http://www.cacert.org/certs/root.crt"
curl -k -o "cacert-class3.crt" "http://www.cacert.org/certs/class3.crt"
certutil -d sql:$HOME/.pki/nssdb -A -t TC -n "CAcert.org" -i cacert-root.crt 
certutil -d sql:$HOME/.pki/nssdb -A -t TC -n "CAcert.org Class 3" -i cacert-class3.crt
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