Google Chrome – What a browser should be -> Simple

Two popular Vietnamese tech blogs, E-Learner 2.0.vi and Technology as an Innovator,  posted about the new Google Chrome browser still in beta in the last couple of days.  The reviews as mixed which seems to be the norm in the blogosphere around the world.

Even though I had to test it with Windows XP (inside of VirtualBox), I was quite impressed with Chrome.  For some strange reason, it brought me back to the days of Mosaic when I first started to surf the web as a young undergraduate student.  Mosaic made surfing the web fun at the time until Netscape and Internet Explorer came around.  Chrome made it feel like I was surfing the web anew again.

Downloading Chrome was very easy though since I was located in Vietnam, I inadvertantly downloaded the Vietnamese language version (Google finally takes notice of Vietnam).  Installation was easy.  I was impressed at how fast it loaded up inside of Windows XP, much faster than Firefox and Internet Explorer.

I really enjoyed the simple layout.  The developers must be either Gnome or XFCE desktop users.  The Gnome/XFCE influence can easily be seen in Chrome.  I think many BSD/Linux users will appreciate Chrome the most.  For the eye candy crazy KDE, Mac, and Windows users, they may find Chrome too boring.  Do not expect the new young computer users to embrace it, it is just not pretty enough for them, unfortunately.  Google better start pumping out nice themes and plug-ins which, sadly enough, ‘could’ slow Chrome down.

For me, on the otherhand, Chrome is fine.  I tested it on several websites and was quite impressed.  The new website my company developed for AIP Foundation loaded up perfectly.  As you will notice, the CSS horizontal menu bar worked perfectly (no javascript was used) without a hack that is needed for both Opera and Internet Explorer:

(Wear a Helmet campaign site XHTML/CSS drop-down menu bar worked perfectly)

Similar to Internet Explorer, Chrome had problems properly rendering this Flash banner but this may not be related to Chrome:

(Too much white space above and below the Flash banner)

Flash videos did render perfectly on my blog though:

(SaigonNezumi.com on Google Chrome)

When I tried to access the Vietnam BSD/Linux Mirror located in the Quang Trung Software City, I was surprised.  I just got a blank black screen below:

(Blank screen while trying to access the FTP server)

After hitting refresh a couple times, I was able to access the mirror.  It was a bit ugly when compared to both Firefox and Internet Explorer but look what it did below.  Yep, That’s Vietnamese you see.  Chrome translated everything into Vietnamese. This could explain why it took longer to load.  Amazing!

(Chrome seems to automatically translate English into Vietnamese)

Speed wise, it did not seem to be faster than the other browers I have used.  I then realized that I should try to access a website located in Saigon so I chose digipower.vn.  It loaded quite fast though you can see it load up each image.

I read several complaints about Javascript as well.  For me, I then tested it at my school’s information system, sorry got to keep the web address private :-).  Well, I was surpised as well.  I could access the information system with no problems.  Before, only Internet Explorer could be used to enter this website.  If I disabled javascript on both Opera and Firefox, I could get into the site but only had limited functionalities.  Chrome I could enter without disabling javascript.

Definitely a lot of positives from me for this browser.  I cannot wait until Chrome is ported to Linux.  I will probably use it more often than Firefox.

  • I used Chrome on an XP laptop for a while tonight. I was fairly impressed. I really look forward to the improved security and better memory management of separate processes per tabs. I can’t wait for it to come out on Linux.

  • Urko Masse

    I haven’t done web development in a while, but I really like the “Inspect element” window of Chrome. Take a look at it, pretty nice.

    The built-in Chrome-Task Manager is an amazing idea. I hope Firefox picks it up (as well as V8 if possible, since Javascript really seems much faster on Chrome).

    Linux version quickly, please!

  • Amazing enough, my students liked Chrome. That surprised me since I expected they would hate it.

    @Tracy: I am thinking about compiling Chromium from source. I heard it can be done in Linux. A Vietnamese programmer is trying to get Chrome ported to Ubuntu as well.

    @Urko: I will.

  • Google Chrome is really fast!
    Now I can sort 200,000 records inside of Browser (Chrome) just in 1 sec. (Faster than Microsoft Excel):
    http://www.ardentedge.com/ex_if.htm

  • Tracy Reed

    All of us folks who follow SE Linux were thinking the same thing at the
    same time as we read google’s comic strip about Chrome: Chrome + SE
    Linux = much safer web browsing.

    http://etbe.coker.com.au/2008/09/02/google-chrome-the-security-implications/

    http://securityblog.org/brindle/2008/09/02/web-browsers-security-and-google-chrome/

    http://danwalsh.livejournal.com/23118.html

  • Yo Kevin

    Check out a big privacy issue I discovered with chrome, that could potentially even be more important in Vietnam:

    http://coderrr.wordpress.com/2008/09/03/google-chrome-privacy-worse-than-you-think/

  • @Steve: How different is that Gmail? Heard this argument before but I will take a ‘wait and see’ approach here. Privacy is viewed differently outside the US.

  • Chrome is Free Software. If people have a problem with this behavior you can be assured that it will be forked. Google just wants to get the technology out there and inspire improvement and standards compliance in browsers so that people can use their apps so they can continue to challenge Microsoft. Google isn’t really counting on Chrome to report back everything you do.

  • @Kevin: Email is email, browsing is browsing. I wouldn’t categorize one over the other. True, Google has all my mail already. But they don’t have the URL of every site I visit. If I start using Chrome as my main browser they will.

    I’m actually ok with that, I’d rather have the useful suggestions than not let Google track my URLs. But I think it’s still an important change that most people don’t even recognize.

  • @Steve: Here in Vietnam, I already know my web surfing is being tracked by the government. I agree with Tracy, if privacy becomes an issue, we can just use a forked version of Chrome. Still, while I live in Vietnam, everything I do online will be tracked so I just need to be a little more belligerent on what I do online.

    I am curious to see what Google can do with the URL gathering. It would be nice if they can make website suggestions.

  • Huy

    @Urko: Inspect Element was copied from the very popular Firebug extension to Firefox. Nothing new here. Firefox 3.1 is supposed to have a JS engine that they claim is faster than V8. So I wouldn’t worry too much about FF.

    @Kevin: your web surfing only gets tracked by the gov if you dont’ have a proxy overseas that you can surf through. For those people who have already neutralized spying by gov agencies, the next lowest hanging fruit is now Google and their auto-suggest spying. By the way, no need to fork Chrome, there’s an option to disable Google Suggest in the URL.

  • Huy

    ignore this post (I just want followups by email)

  • @Kevin: consider this… You already know your web surfing is being tracked by the gov, so…. you are typing in a url to a website, you _almost_ finish and hit enter, you then realize a visit to that site might be interpreted badly by the gov… so you decide to erase it and visit it later through a proxy or something… well, too late, that url already went out through the auto suggest feature… same thing for a “bad” search query which you decide to erase… it was already sent

    And yea, my point wasn’t there is no way around this feature, it was the implications to the general public if the Chrome browser becomes widespread.

  • @Steve: hmm http://www.realprettychicks., oops, caught in the act. I am more worried about what my girlfriend would do with me instead of the govt. 🙂

    I see your point here.

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