1) chromium is used by several other browsers: Edge, Brave, Opera, and probably a whole range of niche browsers I don't know about. Most of these, probably don't rely on Google provided services (I imagine that would create some funny legal issues). None of these browsers are mentioned in the article.
2) The APIs mentioned aren't exactly rocket science and perfectly good OSS implementations (e.g. provided by Mozilla) exist. Also, you could use extensions. For example, Bitwarden integrates nicely into chrome and largely removes the need for built in password managers. I think browser sync is perhaps the hardest of these. But even that should not be too hard to improvise. Cross browser sync would actually be a nice thing to have.
3) Firefox is there, it's being maintained, and you can use it. Many people do. Blanket stating that that is not an option is kind of weird. It's a fine browser. It doesn't have this problem. Chromium is also still a fine browser; and it supports extensions as mentioned before.
4) Forking/patching chromium is always an option. I think some linux distributions already do this in the same way that they also patch Firefox (Iceweasel).
I use Firefox every day. The author tries to make it sound like the old days where a lot of websites simply didn't work without IE (for instance, because they needed ActiveX exposing the internals of your OS). I never run into Chrome-only sites. Heck, it's 2021 and I regularly use Firefox to run Office 365 on Linux.
WebAssembly features post MVP 1.0.
Web assembly still has a lot of mozilla people involved; so fine as well.
PWAs kind of failed in the market because Apple can't be bothered and the desktop experience was always kind of meh; even on Chrome. Worth noting of course that they pushed hard on this while Firefox OS was still a thing for mobile.
All those places around the globe where PC and Android rule, local companies don't have any issues targeting what 99% of their customers are using.
Seriously large caveat: YMMV.
I'm increasingly hitting weird bugs on sites with Firefox, some sufficiently complicated web "apps" just throw up "Use Chrome" overlays.
The situation is similar on Safari, although, oddly, not quite as bad.
Good example) My bank (Nordea.se) has a nice internet banking portal, it works rather well in Firefox until you need to do a video meeting with your adviser. (which I'm doing for a mortgage). Then, in Firefox, nothing happens, no dialog, no pop-up/under, just... nothing, when I click join meeting.
If I do it in Edge/Chrome- it works. Frustrating.
Superfluous example: Microsoft Teams _always_ has issues and sometimes even throws up warnings about using an unsupported browser. Though this is on Firefox ESR.
Exactly. Also the more people using it means the more sites have to support it.
I wouldn't exactly argue that chrome is any better, but firefox isn't a good browser either. It's neither minimalistic, nor does it have many features and it most certainly isn't easily to customize.
I've been an Opera user from version 12 (the last good opera) up to twenty-something, then switched to vivaldi a few years ago and never looked back.
Even just in the current development version, vivaldi is getting support for calendars, mail and rss right in the browser, adding to the already present notes feature. What does firefox do in terms of UX innovation? Ant they certainly don't seem to be pumping that money into the under-the-hood components either, seeing how they still haven't managed to get @property working.
Firefox is turning into the next internet explorer and it's not even googles fault. It's sad, but completely deserved.
> it most certainly isn't easily to customize.
I can't think of any other browser I ever used which is more easily customizable.
> Even just in the current development version, vivaldi is getting support for calendars, mail and rss right in the browser, adding to the already present notes feature. What does firefox do in terms of UX innovation? Ant they certainly don't seem to be pumping that money into the under-the-hood components either, seeing how they still haven't managed to get @property working.
Multi-tab containers is definitely a super useful UX innovation which I've been using for years and surprised why other browsers are slow to pick it up. I'm not sure I actually want any of the above listed features in my browser but I'll be happy to be convinced.
Reader mode which I use regularly -- other browsers either don't have it or it's a worse implementation.
And it was great! More importantly it was already a more or less finished product. The updates were slow, sparse in time and didn't change much (it took 3 years to get from v. 1 to v. 3).
Then something changed in 2011 and updates started showering almost every week for no apparent reason. It was annoying and I've completly stopped installing updates after v. 13(everything worked perfectly anyway). Then after 4 or 5 years I started to have a problem with playing youtube and twitch videos, so I decided to finally update my FF. It was already v. 57 (Quantum) and it made me absolutely livid. 2/3 of my extensions weren't working (and still aren't) and the ability to change UI theme was completely gone (and so I am now stuck with that bland default theme). And all that for no visible benefit on my part whatsoever.
I've immediately installed Chrome, Opera and Safari to see if they were any better, but ... they all are almost identical to the new Firefox (although I am now using Opera on mobile). There is almost no incentive to change from one browser to another now.
Well, it's year 2021 now, but somehow my user experience is worse than it was fifteen years ago. How is that possible I do not know.
The web is now essentially an operating system under active, nascent development, so the churn is going to be enormous and the whole thing will lack any kind of polish or UX. Expect it to stabilise in a few decades as something else takes over (maybe).
A side point, the post mentions having to retry broken web sites in Chrome being a ritual for Firefox users -- I can't think of many instances where that has been the case over the years. In fact, in the past decade it has been rare for any web site to fail in one browser and work in another. I remember two distinct cases: 1) H2O Wireless's account management (and bill paying) which didn't work in Chrome, and their tech support actually advised to use Firefox at the time (which worked), 2) Web Skype in recent years, for a time, dropped support for Firefox but only by user agent sniffing -- I was in fact able to get it to work completely fine on Firefox by using a plugin that changed my user agent string to say Chrome.
Otherwise Firefox is more than enough, I would say more - it's better IMHO than currently available chromium clones.
If you only need different sessions (different cookies) you can use the official Multi-Account add-on . I personally use it to be logged in simultaneously in two different accounts on sites where this is not possible (like GitHub).
 : https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/profile-manager-create-...
 : https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/multi-account...
I'm pretty sure you can encrypt your synced bookmarks: https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/165139?hl=en&visit_...
> With a passphrase, you can use Google's cloud to store and sync your Chrome data without letting Google read it. Your payment methods and addresses from Google Pay aren't encrypted by a passphrase.
And why exactly does usage of Chromium imply more of privacy goal than usage of Chrome?
My assumption was that Chromium users would want a browser without all of Google's cruft.
I really don't understand why this is so surprising, if not Google's server with a google account, where?
And yes, you could just as well use chrome, but Chromium is entirely open source, while Chrome is not. It may not matter to everyone, but it matters to some people. So yes you could get the same functionality from Chrome, but it has different non-functional characteristics which matter to some people.
> My assumption was that Chromium users would want a browser without all of Google's cruft.
The "cruft" like bookmark syncing, password syncing, etc, has to come from somewhere. Google was is good a place as any to me.
More like: All that data is sent to the biggest advertisement company in the world. One has to wonder if they go through all the hassle of browser development for altruistic reasons or to make money off the gathered data?
It is baffling to me that something being open-source is more important than not letting your data be harvested by advertisers, potentially law enforcement, etc.
I don't understand the choice, and I guess that shines through. To me almost anything is better than Google for privacy, but it wasn't meant as criticism.
I do think it is as good a place as any for those things, and you can encrypt bookmarks and passwords that are synced to google servers: https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/165139?co=GENIE.Pla...
Why can't those Linux distributions just ship with Firefox? I don't get it.
Which distro does not?
And I appreciated that it had Chromium (which it packaged itself) as I also used it.
I doubt that any distro would increase it's user base by not packaging Chromium, as you could just not install it if you don't want it, like with everything else.
But that being said, nothing stops you from voting with your feet and switching to a distro that makes it difficult/impossible to get google chrome and/or Chromium if that will make you happier.
Additionally, in my case, Chrome is the only browser that works with the Web Serial API, though other Blink based browsers ostensibly should support it.
Agreed with the overall comments in comment section. Seems like an overreaction or making a big deal out of nothing.
Am I missing something?
I have been using Firefox as my daily driver for years now and I can assure you the web works perfectly fine. I can't remember the last time I came across a website that was even slightly broken on Firefox and worked on Chrome.
Quote from your link Nov 1, 2019
I use both Firefox and Chromium on ppc64le because only Chromium has a working JIT compiler through IBM's V8 port. I don't use sync or any of Google's services, because I'm just not interested.
Talking about dropping Chromium entirely over it feels like either an overreaction or a political move to try and get Google to acquiesce.
Also, I would bet Google would do a few "neccessary" changes in the bookmark parts over the next releases, just to make your patch not work.
And, of course, that makes perfect sense for Google. Chrome is no longer the scrappy insurgent. It's the king of the hill now, so it can start putting the fences up against competitors.
It's not very hard for someone to spec out an open protocol for an end-to-end browser profile sync service. Those who want complete control of privacy can then run their own servers/containers and sync their browser to them. Those who want Google integration can user Chrome, and later, write an extension that allows Chrome to also utilize whatever open sync protocol exists.
There's too much whining, and too little coding. I think for the amount of time used to write articles like this, people could have already spec'ed out and MVP'ed such a service. This reminds me of the cypherpunks mailing list in the 90s. Like 95% of all the messages were political whining that X didn't exist, or Y doesn't do what they want, or bitching about the government. Eventually the hackers forked the 'coderpunks' mailing list, to work on actual solutions.
Chromium is a giant gift horse of a codebase that doesn't need Google integration, because implementing a browser from scratch is almost like implementing Unix from scratch, it's an enormous undertaking. It works amazingly well in my Oculus Quest 2 with WebXR integration (and :( Facebook integration). Chromium is being used in wearables, smart home devices, automative dashboards, the same way linux is endlessly reused, even if the forks aren't all useful as desktop replacements.
Thousands and thousands of products are being released thanks to OSS forks of AOSP, Chromium, or Linux, which if they didn't exist, would make life very hard for hackers and startup entrepreneurs who would have to pay enormous license fees, or do enormous amounts of work to bring up simple devices.
I guess what I'm saying is, developers these days face a cornucopia of riches in the ecosystem, but instead, HN is filled full of threads of people virtue signaling like they're an oppressed minority population. There's a lot of things which are non-ideal about every major platform developers face, but the successful entrepreneurs shut out the noise, and find opportunities in filling in the gaps.
Chromium filled a gap in the OSS market but, because it has non-free services baked in and provided without charge, it was able to outperform real FOSS alternatives. Removing access to those propriety features/services after the market has matured is like this leaves a much bigger gap that's much harder to fill than it would have been back when the market wasn't as mature.
I think we do need to roll-up our sleeves and focus on building/supporting better alternatives but it's also important to be able to call out where the playing-fields aren't level so we can better cheer on those Davids willing to take on Goliath.
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embrace,_extend,_and_extinguis...
You’re chalking up people switching to Chrome as being attracted to proprietary backend featured, without any evidence.
Today's Google just wants to be done with it.
This entire paragraph is complete bullshit:
> The larger problem, though, is that it's not at all clear that Firefox will remain a viable alternative to Chrome. Its market share has been falling for years, and not everybody is pleased with the directions that the Mozilla Foundation has taken. The creators of web sites have responded by not caring about Firefox; having to retry broken web sites in Chrome is a ritual that many Firefox users have had to get used to. It's not surprising that users give up and just run Chrome from the outset.
Firefox is a great browser, and is getting better with every new version. Differences in standards compliance, JS implementation and even rendering is negligible between modern Chrome and Firefox. Mozilla is probably the only major entity challenging Google's dominance over web standards today, with even Microsoft having folded. I don't know where the author is coming from, but to me there is zero reason to use Chrome or Chromium over Firefox.
I'm a pretty dedicated Firefox user, but it's not a myth that more and more web shops are only bothering to test in Chrome.
Hard for regulators to come and force the issue under such circumstances unless something is desperately amiss. It is with some regret that I conclude everything is fine outside the open source community, so there won't be a reckoning yet.
I have image viewers, audio players and video players that do the same job. I have text-only browsers that are much faster for reading HTML. And I have numerous TCP clients that retrieve web pages and resources as fast and usually faster than "modern" browsers, and are always more reliable. Heck, the W3C's libwww project still compiles and works well behind haproxy/stunnel. The functionality I need is fast, reliable text and URL retrieval.
I do need the big, graphcal browsers for online shopping, banking and so forth, but that is not what I am most of the time I am using the web. I do not need them to enjoy the web's content. I never expected I could survive without the graphics but it has been far easier than I thought, and it's getting easier.
Your outrage seems a bit misplaced to me.
Chromium synching to google's servers is entirely what I expected, and it was always clear that it was doing it to me. I am unsure why anyone is surprised by this.
It it like the iPhone, buying them and then complain they are restricted devices.
Why is bookmark sync such a dealbreaker? Searching for "chrome extension bookmark sync" reveals already multiple 3rd party extensions that can offer this functionality, and building more seems like an elementary 2nd year university project.
If the intent with distributing Chrome on nix is to help users handle "Site Only works on Chrome" use cases, then does it even matter if the browser is fully-featured or has bookmark sync?
The whole thing feels like people have a bitter taste in their mouth, and want to react SOMEHOW to voice their displeasure...but it's a completely meaningless gesture that Google won't notice one iota. The only ones that will suffer are the users.
I personally had long argued for the use of Chromium and this was a massive oversight of mine. I thought Chromium was a viable alternative to Chrome but no I realize Google's plan all along was probably to get their foot in the door then pull the "open source" rug out from us as soon as they could.
More than anything this single action cements Google as a bad actor, one that should be avoided as much as possible moving forward. The more people refusing to use Google products moving forward the better.
I'm a Google employee and I don't even use Chrome Sync for my non-corporate accounts.