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The Computer Corner

Web Browsers Around the World Exist Thanks to Google’s Chromium

By Charles Miller

Last week in this column, I praised Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, for deciding to share its Chromium web browser program for the benefit of Internet users worldwide. This week, let’s take a look at some of the web browsers around the world that have benefitted. Some might not have even existed at all without Chromium.

Open-source software (OSS) is a type of computer software in which source code is released publicly under a license in which the copyright holder, in this case Google, grants everyone the rights to study, modify, and redistribute the software for any purpose. Unlike software developed by one company, usually in secret, open-source software is developed in a collaborative public manner that can bring in diverse perspectives beyond those of a single company.

What Google has done by making Chromium open-source is to provide a safe and secure web browser that any other software company may use. There is nothing secret about it, and every software programmer who uses it is free to improve on it and share those improvements with all others who use Chromium. Even Microsoft looked at its own web browser Edge and decided that Chromium was better. Microsoft abandoned the millions it had invested in Edge in favor of using Google’s code. Other software makers are using Chromium to create browsers to satisfy specific user needs.

Opera was the first popular browser to switch to Chromium as its foundation. Opera then added features such as an ad blocker, a VPN-like system, a cryptocurrency wallet, and a video player. Vivaldi, another web browser based on Chromium, added tools not found in other browsers, not to mention so many customization options that even its makers might not recognize it after you customize your copy. The Brave browser uses five search engines at once, not just Google search.

And interest in Chromium is international: Yandex is a Russian browser based on Chromium, Cent is Chinese, Sleipnir is Japanese, and Torch comes from Panama.

Then, of course, there is Chrome. Google created its Chrome browser by starting with Chromium, then adding spyware to track users, adware to push out advertising, plus several security improvements to thwart malware. After all, Google’s business model is about collecting massive amounts of data and monetizing it.

Chromium is actually two things. First, it is the jumble of computer source code, unreadable to most, that software creators can use as the foundation for creating the web browsers listed above. Second, and unbeknownst to most users, Chromium is a fully-functional web browser that looks identical to Google Chrome. If you are already using Chrome and would like to try it sans all the advertising tracking added by Google, then Chromium is available for you to try. Point whatever web browser you are using now to chromium.org, where you will find links to download Chrome or Chromium. Be aware that Chromium does not auto-update, so it is probably not a good fit for those who are not technologically savvy.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981, and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044 415 101 8528 or e

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