Future of Chromium in Ubuntu with Google blocking sync

Is there any progress on having a snap for Google Chrome? That would make the transition a lot easier for users who like it.

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There is a flatpak package that works pretty well:

https://flathub.org/apps/details/org.chromium.Chromium

That’s seems to be Chromium, built from the open-source code just like the Ubuntu snap package (which I’d say works very well). @merlijn-sebrechts was asking about an official Google Chrome package (with Google’s branding and closed-source bits), since that will be the only version that can use Google sync going forward.

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Create a meta package that would install Firefox when you go sudo apt install chromium or sudo snap install chromium. Firefox works really well without any google services.

geez, firefox is such a beast … better make it install https://snapcraft.io/mosaic

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I can’t believe this :astonished: :astonished:

Probably won’t have to worry about the company behind that browser changing the terms of service, either!

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The current dev and beta versions of the Chromium snap removed the keys needed for sync in anticipation of the revocation in March. So it seems like this is really happening. :frowning:

Ideally, Chromium should inform users of this change when it first starts up without these keys. I really like the “deb to snap” information page. (If you have the snap installed, open file:///snap/chromium/current/firstrun/snap-en.html to see the page). Can we have a similar page for the sync issue? What would such an information page say?

My thoughts

  • I think the page itself should list a recommended alternative but it should also contain a link to a community-maintained list of other alternatives.
  • Given how Google f*cked us over with this decision, I’m not too keen on promoting Google Chrome as an alternative. Moreover, Google Chrome is not available on all platforms supported by Snap.
  • I think it’s important to have a guide for how to export passwords and browsing data from Chromium and import it into the alternative. People who care about the sync issue will care a great deal about this data when moving to another browser. Maybe have a link to a wiki page about moving to another browser where the community can contribute guides for their favorite browsers?
  • I think it makes sense to use Firefox as the recommended alternative.
    • It’s in the Ubuntu archive maintained by Canonical so users can expect the same level of support.
    • It’s completely open source.
    • It’s also available as a Snap maintained by Mozilla themselves.
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Surely that’s a job for the upstream Chromium project? Given all builds of Chromium are affected in the same way, not just the snap.

I still fail to see why people are really up in arms about this. They want to use open-source browser but yet use Google’s sync service which might negate the fact since it goes through Google’s servers. Point being your data might be used to server ads as your history and such are on their servers. I might not know the details one weather or not if they do “snoop” on your browsing history, but the way I see it is this is a good thing, we are getting a pure open source version of Chrome w/o Google stuff. If people still want it then the can easily install Google Chrome, if not they can use Chromium as is or Firefox with it’s sync or even Vivaldi and its sync.

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This is not the case and this is a dangerous myth. Chromium will still send data to Google after March. Google will still be able to track Chromium users after March. Only the sync is disabled, features like Safe Browsing, which sends websites you visit to Google, will still be enabled.

Google Chrome only supports a limited set of distributions, CPU architectures and versions. Chromium supports almost everything thanks to the hard work of hundreds of packagers.

Google Chrome also isn’t available in regular repos or as a Snap or a Flatpak, adding extra hurdles to installation and updates.

People are upset because this move severely limits the number of people and distributions that can have the full Chrome/Chromium experience and it flushes a literal decade of work by hundreds of packagers down the drain with a month’s notice.

Want the most popular browser on your new Linux distribution? Well, you better make sure to keep compatibility with RHEL or Ubuntu because otherwise you’re screwed…

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Thanks for the through response, I did not really know about all these. Especially about the smaller distros not having a proper Chrome build, which makes sense as on their (Google) website they only have RPM and DEB version.

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I think chromium was always kind of a wacky solution, because you still needed a second browser for DRM stuff like netflix etc

I know this is in no way a solution to this problem, but this is my advice for people that want to avoid the google data kraken:

Use firefox as your browser on the phone and on the desktop with firefox sync enabled with facebook container and ublock etc. It has become a pretty solid and fast browser again with the new engine

For progressive web apps (spotify, twitter, office, etc) use google chrome. So the only data chrome receives is of those apps :slight_smile:

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In the near future, Gnome-Web (Epiphany) should be a consideration. They’re working on web extensions for the 40 release. That was about the only showstopper for moi, from using that browser.

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Epiphany is great, I love how it is in sync with my FIrefox profile.

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Chromium was automagically installing widevine from 6 months at least so it was a king a good solution , mais we need to get away from google power anyway

There are a few scripts that can download the Widevine CDM and install it in a place Chromium can find it. However, the README file accompanying the CDM makes it clear that downloading it does not grant a license to integrate it into arbitrary software.

So while those solutions might be okay for third party scripts or howto websites, they can’t realistically be part of Ubuntu proper without an explicit license from Google.

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https://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2021/01/how-to-install-edge-on-ubuntu-linux
https://www.microsoftedgeinsider.com/en-us/download/?platform=linux-deb
https://microsoftedge.microsoft.com/addons/Microsoft-Edge-Extensions-Home

Would Edge solve any problems?

Microsoft Edge is not compatible with Ubuntu’s licensing policy. While it builds on top of an Open Source code base, it is not itself Open Source. It’s essentially the same problem that blocks Google Chrome from being included.

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At this point users just need to install Google Chrome (if they want the same browser/experience as Chromium with Google Sync) or just start using Firefox that comes installed. It supports Sync and works very well. Or even using GNOME Web (Epiphany) which also support Firefox Sync.

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