Wandering Thoughts archives


My impressions of Google Chrome so far

My first impression of Chrome is that it's fast. My torture test is Flickr's new interface, which has some JavaScript that manages to bog down my machines with every version of (Linux) Firefox that I've tried, including the 4.0 beta builds (which theoretically have significantly faster JavaScript). On Chrome it flies, to the point where it feels faster with JavaScript on than Firefox does with the JavaScript turned off in NoScript.

(This is in fact what motivated me to try Chrome to start with. I am relatively active on Flickr, so I really noticed when it suddenly became achingly slow. After working through a whole series of attempts to get a faster Firefox, I gave in and tried out the reputedly fastest browser. To my surprise it was indeed much faster.)

Using a bare Chrome install was a great way of finding out which bits of my Firefox interface I really need in order to feel effective. So far my necessary Chrome extensions are:

  • MiddleButtonScroll, which does just what it says it does; it gives you what Firefox calls autoscroll, where holding down the middle mouse button lets you scroll the page around.

    (No doubt everyone just uses their mouse wheel to scroll and doesn't care, but I'm still a holdout.)

  • Smooth Gestures plus the Smooth Gestures plugin to make it work on Linux (it's covered on the main Smooth Gestures page). There are several gestures extensions for Chrome, but this was the first one I found that said it more or less works on Linux, which it does; there are issues, but nothing I can't live with for now.

(It turns out that for casual browsing I really want the ability to conveniently navigate purely with the mouse, including scrolling the page.)

I haven't explored my options for something like NoScript and CookieSafe. There's a NotScripts extension, but it currently has some annoying requirements that made me decide I didn't want to deal with it right now, and apparently there is also some degree of native support for JavaScript control in Chrome, which I haven't looked into at all.

(If I was trying to use Chrome full time in place of Firefox, I would also need to find some replacement for Stylish and ideally It's All Text as well. Or, as it turns out, I would just need to install Stylish, as it's already been done for Chrome.)

I'm using the official Google Chrome build, not Chromium. I installed the 32-bit RPM version despite having a 64-bit machine, and I see no reason to do otherwise unless you have unusual needs. For a start, Flash just works (it's bundled into the RPM). I turned off the package's automatic updates by the simple expedient of 'chmod a-x /etc/cron.daily/google-chrome'. To their credit, Google explicitly tells you in advance that their package installs an auto-update process and adds their repository to your yum configuration, so I knew to go hunting.

(I'm aware that Google documents another procedure for turning the automatic update off. Per previous commentary, I'm a sysadmin so I feel much happier about code that isn't running at all.)

Sidebar: the Chrome yum repo configuration

The Chrome RPM doesn't contain an explicit /etc/yum.repos.d file for their repository, apparently because Google is trying the heroic task of building one RPM that can work on several different RPM-based distributions with different ways of doing all of this. Instead it is created by the cron script the first time it runs, which is a slight problem if you turn off the cron script entirely.

To save any interested parties the job of reading the script's source, here is the current google-chrome.repo that the script creates (for 32-bit machines):


In fact, I see that Google documents all of this here, including adding the necessary package signing key and the 64-bit repo configuration.

(Note that they use a somewhat different 'name=' value between their website and what the cron script sets up.)

linux/ChromeImpressions written at 01:10:26; Add Comment

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