Goodbye Firefox, Hello Google Chrome – Firefox vs Google Chrome on Kubuntu

Since the inception of Firefox, it has been (more or less) the defacto standard browser for a wide array of corporations, groups and people. It quickly rose to be the dominant browser due to it's open source nature, it's speed and it's ability to properly display a web page. There are plenty of other reasons (like it is/was much more secure than IE6 … no clue how it stacks up to IE8 though), but one of the most important reasons was it's add-ons/extensions.

With extensions anyone could go in and create an extension for Firefox which augmented some functionality, added something new, removed something they didn't like and completely redesigned the interface. Heck, now-a-days Firefox is still THE browser to use when creating webpages simply because of it's power extensions  such as: SEO-Firefox, FireBug and YSlow just to name a few.

Users finally had a (really) great free alternative to all other browsers. Opera and Netscape really didn't compare back then, though I here the latest Opera is rather nice. But the battle raged on mostly between Mozilla's Firefox and Microsoft's Internet Explorer. It is a real David vs Goliath battle here folks. Though there was a new comer to this ancient struggle.

The ever benevolent (as benevolent as any rich and powerful US corporation could be … which isn't much) Google announced, a while back, it's plans to create a browser. Rumor upon rumor spread and eventually it was actually released. And it did surprisingly well.

As of this writing Google Chrome is up to version 5.0.375.99 in the Beta (or so). It's based off of the Chromium project which is open source, while Google Chrome isn't technically 100% open source. Either way, it's a extremely fast and powerful browser which makes headway each and every month.

Why the switch:

I love Firefox and have been using it for a long long time. If anyone asks which browser I recommend they use I say Firefox. BUT, I myself have switched over to Google Chrome (in Linux) for several reasons (in no particular order)

1) Google chrome is simply much prettier. They eliminated the usual window borders from the Xorg display, which is nice. Of course, if you prefer your Metacity or KDE borders, you can enable all that jazz too. But I really prefer it without. It gives my browser more space to actually display a site!

My website is blue, and Chrome is by default blue. Works for me. Plus, it was the first browser (which was popular) to include styles/themes/whatever you wanna call it that can change the look of the browser by default. Which is cool. I don't use it (yet), but it's nice to have albiet useless except for putting my companies own logo in it.

2) Google Chrome starts up significantly faster. I have found that on a cold startup (meaning after a reboot or a normal boot up in the morning) Chrome will open almost instantly, but firefox will take up to 10 seconds to load! Yikes! That ‘could' be because of all the extensions I installed, but either way it's slow (to start).

3) Easier bookmark manager. Before I comment on this, I gotta say this: I really dislike both bookmark managers because they all suck and are boring. Firefox has it right, I think, with the tags and all but it was kinda cumbersome. They all need some automated way for this. Anyway … Chrome bookmark manager is easier to deal with and less bitchy than Firefox's, except that if you close it and open it again all the bookmark folders are open. Which is annoying. Overall, still much easier to organize bookmarks in Chrome IMO.

4) MUCH better and faster extension/plugin handling/managing than Firefox. In Chrome, if I install an extension I do not have to restart the whole bloody browser each time. In firefox, you do … it's annoying as hell especially since on average I have at least 20 tabs open.

4.1) Chrome installs extensions/plugins lighting fast. Firefox installs extensions rather slow.

5) Chrome actually displays websites correctly on a widescreen display in Linux unlike Firefox. This has been a real troublesome thing for me in Firefox. On my widescreen laptop, no matter what distribution of Linux I used Firefox would always display the wrong font sizes. Usually too large. And using the browser ability to shrink fonts didn't fix any styling or display issues. It really sucked.

6) It ‘seems' to navigate websites a bit faster. This one is completely unscientific, but it just seems like a faster browser overall. Just my 2 cents.

7) Takes up less screen space. Related to #1.

8) Chrome opens new tabs/pages from within other programs MUCH faster. If I click a link in my e-mail, it opens up within a second or so in Chrome, there is a small delay before Chrome catches the link and then starts opening it. Browsers have that. But with Firefox this delay was just so unbelievably slow. this is also the main reason I tried switching in the first place.

But it's not all peaches and creame!

I use Chrome more or less exclusively now, but I wish it have some things that Firefox had. For one:

  • Bookmark tags.
  • More marketing/programming extensions (like FireBug … even though I think there is a FireBug like extensions for Chrome now).
  • More stability, it seems to also be a bit more unstable than Firefox. Kinda odd, can't describe it really. Though it crashes for some reasons, but very rarely. Firefox practically never crashed though. Then again … I am using Chrome Beta on Linux.
  • The bookmark bar was somehow changed. It sucks, this option really blows in Chrome. I use my main bookmark bar a lot, in Firefox is was actually decently pretty and what-not. But in Chrome it sticks out like a sore thumb. Bleh … Maybe I need a new chrome style?

Have you had any browser changing experiences? How about your thoughts on Chrome? Let me know in the comments. I'd love to know what browsers ya'll are using these days!

  • Thanks for writing this , I have been thinking of switching and am thinking of getting the new Samsung Galaxy phone that use Chrome. Will now go and check it out. I now know why my firefox is so slow

  • Hi Piotr,

    I use Chrome most of the time. It’s fast and easy to bookmark pages, as you say. The downside of Chrome, for me, is that some applications aren’t optimised for Chrome – the mailing list software that I use is one, my bank is another… So I have to use another browser in these cases.

    A Chrome plugin extension worth mentioning is Autopen – enables you to have a number of rich text signatures – choose which one you want to use with each email, if you don’t want to use your default.

    best wishes

    Rob

  • Isn’t Chrome great? I’ve been using it since I got my first netbook back in Oct 2009. I wasn’t going to chance installing FireFox on that thing because I know it would have been too slow! Chrome was much faster and I’ve grown to love it. I’ve even installed it on my “regular” Windoze laptop and use it exclusively on there now. I cringe when I have to open FireFox on there because it takes too long. So far on the Mac I am using the latest version of Safari which is doing good so far.

    My biggest issue with Chrome is/was the lack of support for subscribing to RSS feeds. I’m not sure if its fixed or not, it seems to be wishy-washy – sometimes RSS shows up properly, sometimes it doesnt. I have some kind of script bookmark that I use to view RSS feeds in Chrome. It would make SENSE if Chrome would have a one click subscription to Google Reader – as far as I know, it doesn’t fully support RSS just yet (there’s an extension to do this though).

    As for crashing, what I found is that Chrome crashes EVERY time I’m on an InstantTeleseminar. But the cool thing is I dont have to restart it, I just close the window/tab and go back to the URL and it works (this keeps all my other Chrome windows open).

    Gwen

    • Thanks for the input Gwen!

      I completely forgot about that awesome feature of Chrome! Thanks so much for noting it!

      I also REALLY really love that chrome in and of itself rarely crashes. But if something goes wrong with a tab, just close it. All other’s are A-OK!

      🙂

  • like you i like the speed, for most things i prefer using chrome; however i have one bone to pick with chrome – download managers; with the lousy internet speed in my area, downloading a file larger than 10mb is not a very viable option with chrome, besides i don’t remember ever successfully resuming a download with chrome

    • You have such a good point there Bones!

      Yeah, Chrome is not a browser for mass downloading. That’s why I’ve kinda stopped using it for that. I use Jdownloader or FlashGet/FlashGot (or whatever it’s called) with it!

      Thanks so much for bringing up that point!

      –PK

  • For cross-browser and cross-platform bookmarking I just use Del.icio.us to save my bookmarks. This way I can have tags and access to my synchronized bookmarks from anywhere (including internet cafes!). With the “Bookmark on Delicious” bookmarklet sitting in my Bookmarks Toolbar, I can bookmark sites with a single click, auto-tag it, and file it away. This is the only viable solution for me; the normal Chrome/Firefox bookmarks UI simply does not scale to the number of pages I save.

  • Hi Piotr,

    This is an insightful post into Google Chrome. It seems like I have been a loyal Firefox user for some time, and never really considered the alternatives. I could always go for more speed, which everyone seems to agree is an advantage of Chrome. I will have to try it. Thanks for sharing this post.

    Best wishes.

    • Hey David,

      Thanks for dropping by. There are pluses and minuses of both browsers:

      Chrome is fasters and renders most of the newest HTML5 better than firefox. It also handles ‘bad’ pages better (overall), one way it does it is that it creates a separate thread for each tab you open. Firefox on the other hand is slower and bulkier and doesn’t handle all the HTML5 and CSS3 that we’d all like to see. Though it is more stable and takes up less ram and cpu power and is highly configurable through the about:config page.

      The downside of Chrome is that it’s less stable, doesn’t have that many extensions/plugins for it and it’s not easy to configure in fine detail. Firefox is highly stable, has well known code and is NOT handled by Google (yes, that is considered a plus). Firefox is also the de-facto standard for web development. Meaning, it is the tool of choice. You just don’t see as many quality tool for Chrome for web development as you do for Firefox.

      Though, Chrome DOES have an extremely super cool addon made by Google. Though it requires a special developers version of Chrome AND requires you to start it a certain way AND you need to download a special plugin … >_> It’s a mess if you ask me. Though the plugin is top noche, commercial strength stuff.

      Cheers,
      –PK!

  • Google Chrome 9’s points:————————————————————————————————————(110 points)
    IE9’s points:——————————————-(43 points)
    Firefox 4’s Points:——-(7 points)
    Safari 5’s points:–(2 points)
    Opera 10’s points:—————————————————————————(75 points)
    Google Chrome also super duper fast,emails fast,great options & wins so many tests!
    Hope you use Google Chrome now.(I told you too much)

  • I’ve been using Chrome pretty much everywhere I could since it came out. When it first came out, I too was a dedicated Firefox user. But I thought I had to try out Chrome, for no other reason than that it was from Google and there would be tons of people asking me questions about it. And at first, I hated it–except for the fact that it was blindingly fast. That was the biggest problem with Firefox: not only wasn’t it that fast to begin with, I had loaded so many add-ons (because so many great ones existed–a down side to success), that it *crawled* along. In addition: every time a plugin got an upgrade, it took forever to download and install, followed (usually) by Firefox taking forever to restart. Now, of course (?), Chrome is not so fast because I am bogging *it* down. But now I’m a total addict; the way Chrome works has so affected the way *I* work, that I *will* go into withdrawal without it.

    Rob is right, however, some pages do not display correctly in Chrome and from time to time I have to fire up [Gasp!] IE. I’ve been surprised that Chrome has not become more popular. On *my* sites, Chrome is at about 10%–behind IE (35%), Firefox (25%) , and Safari (15%). The remaining 15% are pretty much all phone browsers. Even with Chrome’s relatively small market share, this problem is surprising given that no browser now has a lock on the market. It isn’t like the days when it was 80/20 IE/Netscape. (BTW: Netscape *does* still show up: at about a half a percent.)

  • Color me a Firefox fan. I use both daily but prefer Firefox as it gives me more flexibility with my bookmarks, loads more websites accurately and has better Add-ons. I use Ad Block Plus on Firefox and rarely see an ad on web pages. Ad Sweep on Chrome doesn’t seem to block nearly as many ads.

    I do like how easy it is to close multiple tabs in a row on Chrome though.

  • you guys really think chrome rocks and firefox sucks!!

    then.. prepare to be amazed, [moderated the rest of this comment for being inappropriate and unprofessional]
    in your face CHROME!

    • Dear Anonymous Firefox lover,

      Thanks for your comment and you are well entitled to it. I had to moderate and edit your comment to make it more appropriate.

      I hear great things about Firefox 4, though I’m stcking with Chrome because it suits me well and it fits my display UI very well as well. 🙂

      Cheers,
      –PK

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