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!