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google chrome linux alphaEditor’s note: We have a special installment for MakeUseOf readers who happen to be Chrome fans. We are reviewing the alpha build of Chrome for both Linux and Mac today. Watch out for the Mac edition later on.

For those Linux users who have been waiting hard and long for the release of Google Chrome Linux Alpha, there are both a good and bad news for you. The bad news is, Google Chrome for Linux is still not available yet. The good news however, the alpha build is now available for testing, which could be a joy for some Linux geeks.

Last week, Google released the first alpha build (build of Google Chrome for Linux (and Mac). I have tested the Linux version on my Ubuntu machine and compared how it fares against Firefox. It is apparent that there are plenty of features missing, but it also comes with some juice that proved to be a surprise for many.


On the Chromium developer’s blog, they have stressed that the alpha build is not meant for mainstream public use and should be used only by developers. Being a public user, you are still free to download/install the software, but do bear in mind that many of the features are still missing.

Next step, installation.



Installing Google Chrome on Ubuntu is very easy. Download the deb file from the Chromium Early Release Channel to your desktop. Double click on the downloaded file to initiate the installation.

When the installation is complete, a warning window regarding the instability of this software will pop up. In the window, you can also opt to help the development of Google Chrome for Linux by sending in the crash reports to Google.

google chrome linux download

First impression

The very first impression of running Google Chrome Linux on my Ubuntu is that it is very fast.

Whenever I click on the Firefox launcher, I always have to wait for several seconds (at least 10 seconds) for it to load in the background before I get to see the home page. The more extensions I installed, the slower it got.

For Google Chrome, the moment I click on the launcher, the browser loads instantly, almost without any delay. One could argue that Google Chrome doesn’t support any extensions now and most of its features are not available, so it is logical that it loads faster. That could be true, but still, the difference in the speed is enormous.

Other than the boot speed, the speed that it loads a web page, performs a search, accesses URL history, suggests the URL as you type is also much faster than Firefox. And also more intelligent, in my opinion.

We have already covered plenty of Google Chrome features, including the tips 8 Cool Tips & Tricks to Make Most Of Google Chrome 8 Cool Tips & Tricks to Make Most Of Google Chrome Read More and tricks 7 Useful Hacks To Improve Your Google Chrome Experience 7 Useful Hacks To Improve Your Google Chrome Experience Read More , so I shall not delve into that. Overall, what is working in this alpha build is basic browsing, new tabs, simple tab dragging, search from URL bar, incognito mode and full page zoom.

What is lacking for now?

In short, it is still lacking a whole great list of things. There is no flash support, means you won’t be able to watch any videos on Youtube, no printing, no complex text support, no complex tab dragging (pulling the tab out of the browser window), you can’t change the homepage, little or almost no configuration options in the Options page and many other features that are only partially implemented.


One thing that I also noticed is that the font rendering in Google Chrome is still not up to par with Firefox. In addition, the UI still needs some polishing to make full of the GTK+ theme.

Should you install?

Google has make it clear that this is still an alpha release and should be installed by developers only. I am not a developer, but I am already enjoying the benefits of its speed. For basic browsing (checking mail, reading articles, performing searches in search engines), Google Chrome can do its job well, but for anything that is more complex, you will have to fall back to your native browser. There is no harm in installing it and trying it out for yourselves, I am already using it as my default browser. For complex stuff, I guess I’ll have to stick with Firefox.

Don’t forget that this is only the Linux version. My colleague, Jeffry, will be reviewing its Mac counterpart Testing Google Chrome Alpha: Test #2 - Mac Testing Google Chrome Alpha: Test #2 - Mac Read More . Watch out for his article. Will it be better or worse? Find out soon.

What do you think about this alpha release? Did Google do the right thing by releasing such a raw version of their browser? Are you satisfied with it? Let it all out in the comments!

  1. 1fastbullet
    June 18, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Yes, I think Iron is worth trying to follow the development of and I look forward to the stable version of Iron for Linux.

    Meanwhile, I will take your advice and look at your other alternative browsers. I thank you for that.

    Finally, it has come to my attention, only today, that there is also portable applications of Iron available, albeit not for my usage (yet). More information about the portable version(s) may be found at the following two links.


  2. Damien Oh
    June 17, 2009 at 1:18 am

    You can also check out my previous article 12 worthy alternative browsers for Linux/ for many other alternative browsers that you can use in Linux

  3. 1fastbullet
    June 16, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Apologies that this is somewhat (also) off-topic.

    In response to Stepenella's comment, I'd like to say Thank You for the reminder that Epiphany is an option I had forgotten about. I'm thoroughly sick of Firefox's habit of suddenly crashing for no apparent reason and would dearly love to find a quick, secure, stable browser that is readily customizable to my needs. I will definitely give Epiphany a try.
    Too, if Chrome or Iron (Opera?) ever approach the same criteria I've mentioned, I have no qualms about using any particular one of them.

  4. Stapenella
    June 16, 2009 at 6:22 am

    I use Chrome on all of my computers, but since it isn't finished I've switched my default browser from Firefox to Epiphany. This was completely based upon speed, and Epiphany is a quick and native Gnome browser. That's what I will be using until Chrome is usable as an exclusive browser on Linux.

  5. 1fastbullet
    June 16, 2009 at 12:53 am

    It's google. It has inherent google invasiveness built in, or at least, it will.

    Already, google's invasive nature and some other privacy/security concerns have become such an issue in the Windows version of Chrome that another browser, something of a Clone Chrome has been introduced. This browser's name is Iron.

    Regarding Chrome as a whole, and the introduction of Iron, you might find the following link of interest.

    Regarding Iron for Linux, specifically, it is currently in pre-Alpha. More information about this is available at the following link:

    • Damien Oh
      June 17, 2009 at 1:15 am

      Iron seems good. I will definitely keep a close watch on it.

  6. Mohamed Marwen Meddah
    June 15, 2009 at 1:09 am

    I tested Chrome on OpenSUSE and as you said, it's very good and fast, and quite stable for an alpha. I still fall back to Firefox though for the more complex stuff and whenever I need to read/use Arabic.

    Will be trying it on Ubuntu today, but I don't expect my experience to be any different really.

    Looking forward to this moving forward and me being able to use Chrome as my default browser for everything just as with the Windows version.

  7. Damien Oh
    June 14, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Do note that this is still an alpha version, so plenty of crash and instability issues are expected. There are lots of great features that are not yet implemented. IMO, it will only get better as the development matures.

  8. makkay
    June 14, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    the best feature of google chrome for me is how the tabs takes over the title bar when the window is maximized. i hope this feature get implemented in the linux version.

    it's a shame that it doesn't support complex text (specifically arabic) yet :(

  9. Custom Distros
    June 14, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    I'm looking forward to Chrome for Linux getting some more stability and usability before I tinker around with it. I enjoy using it on Windows, and when it leaves the alpha stage I'll be one of the first to grab the beta.

  10. ezg
    June 14, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    I tried Chromium on my Ubuntu system too. It's really fast and does the basic jobs really great.
    But there is one problem with stability: it crashed for me few times, but the crash isn't the main problem, main thing is that it don't start again after crash: i tried manual start, but it doesn't work too. So I had to reastart my X to start Chromium again. This is not very good, but after all great job developing this browser to Linux. Thanks for developers.

    • Scott Beamer
      June 15, 2009 at 11:24 am

      It's not even a beta yet. That's par for the course. :)

  11. Scott Beamer
    June 14, 2009 at 11:50 am

    How iroonic. I constantly come across blog posts that only mention Ubuntu in the title when in fact the article applies to any Linux distro.

    You've done just the opposite here...

    P.S. I look forward to a regular .tar.gz/bz2 archive. Or better RPM package.

    • Vadim
      June 14, 2009 at 1:09 pm

      Feel free to make them!

      • Scott Beamer
        June 15, 2009 at 11:20 am

        pfft. Yeah right. And after that I'll produce a cure for cancer.

    • Damien Oh
      June 14, 2009 at 7:59 pm

      @Scott: This is not meant to be an Ubuntu article in the first place. it is just that I am currently using Ubuntu and Google released a deb file, so it makes perfect sense to test it on an Ubuntu machine.

      You can use alien to convert the deb file to rpm format.

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