Ubuntu Web Browsers

How to Install Chromium Daily Builds in Ubuntu

Add key for Chromium daily build repositories
Add Chromium daily build repositories
Install Chromium
Enable plugins
Use system GTK theme
First 4 steps with one terminal command


Chromium is still in testing. It has not been officially released, so please do not expect it to run well. In the minimal use I've made of it, it appears to run okay, but daily updates could just break it at any moment.

So please be prepared to have a backup browser ready to use (like Firefox) and do not do anything critical in Chromium at this time (e.g., something you'd be really sad about if you were in the middle of doing it and your browser randomly crashed).

Click on any of the screenshots below in order to see a larger image.

Add key for Chromium daily build repositories

First, add the GPG key for the Chromium daily build repos.

Visit the Chromium daily builds section of Launchpad.

Copy the line of code to add the key.

Open up a terminal.

Paste in the code.

Add Chromium daily build repositories

Now we need to add the actual repositories.

Go back to the PPA page, select your version of Ubuntu, and then copy the first line of text.

Go to System > Administration > Software Sources and enter your password when prompted.

Under Third-Party Software click Add. In APT line: paste in the line, and then click Add Source.

Do the same thing for the second line.

When prompted to reload the the repositories information, do so and wait.

Install Chromium

Now that we have the daily builds repositories enabled, we can actually install Chromium.

Go to System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager and search for chromium

Mark chromium-browser for installation and then confirm the Mark.

Click Apply and then confirm again by clicking the second Apply when prompted.

Wait for Chromium to finish installing.

Quit Synaptic and quit Firefox.

Enable plugins

Even though Chromium is installed and ready to use now, it doesn't come with the browser plugins enabled (no YouTube... no anything involving Flash).

If you want to enable plugins, go ahead and launch Chrome.

Copy the little phrase --enable-plugins

Right-click the Applications menu and select Edit Menus

Then, under Applications > Internet, double-click Chromium Web Browser and under Command, paste --enable-plugins right after chromium-browser and right before %U, so the whole command will read

chromium-browser --enable-plugins %U

Use system GTK theme

By default, Chromium will have the same blue border that Chrome has in Windows.

If you want to blend it in with your GTK theme, click on the wrench and select Options

Then, under Personal Stuff, select Set to GTK+ theme

That's it. You're ready to go now and use Chromium!

First 4 steps with one terminal command

If you've never added the daily builds repositories and if you're using Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope), you can do all the first four steps (sans getting Chromium to use your GTK theme) by just pasting this one command into the terminal:
sudo apt-key adv --recv-keys --keyserver 4E5E17B5 && echo "deb jaunty main" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list && echo "deb-src jaunty main" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install chromium-browser && mkdir -p ~/.local/share/applications && cp /usr/share/applications/chromium-browser.desktop ~/.local/share/applications && sed -i 's/Exec=chromium-browser/Exec=chromium-browser --enable-plugins/g' ~/.local/share/applications/chromium-browser.desktop
Apple and Mac OS X Web Browsers

Safari 4 has almost caught up to other browsers

When I read the features in the new Safari 4 beta, I got really excited. My wife uses Safari on her Mac because when she first started using OS X, Firefox and Camino weren’t very stable (the user profiles kept getting corrupt). Now Firefox is much better, and she uses it at work for the web developer extension, but she still uses Safari at home.

Well, I kind of twisted her arm to give Safari 4 beta a try. A lot of the new features sound exciting. It has a tab bar on top to save vertical space (just like Google Chrome). It has a “speed dial” page of your most frequently visited websites (just like Opera and Chrome). Its speed dial is very slick-looking, though (reminiscent of Exposé or the album browser in iTunes).

It still has two major shortcomings, though.

  • Although there is an entry in History for restoring the tabs from last session, there is no setting to have the tabs from last session automatically get restored every time you start the browser.
  • Typing phrases in the address bar doesn’t search for them. Instead, you still get a page saying the URL isn’t found, and then a prompt to search for the phrase. Why not just search instead of adding that extra step? Pretty much every major browser does this (Firefox, Opera, Camino, Chrome). Why not Safari?

Well, I’m glad Apple has put in at least a little more effort into making Safari a better browser. Maybe Safari 5 will actually bring some innovative features instead of just playing catch-up.

Web Browsers

Bookmark Organization in Browsers

The other day I was talking with a Windows-using friend. She’s using an old laptop of ours, as her newer laptop is having various hardware and software issues. I noticed she was using Chrome, and I asked her how she liked it. She liked it for the most part, except she didn’t like how Google wouldn’t let her organize her own bookmarks. She said she can’t imagine it would be that difficult. I told her it was probably quite the opposite. Google’s “smart” bookmarking in Chrome (with the most frequently visited and most recently visited sites showing up in the Opera-like speed dial page) is probably more difficult to implement (from a programming perspective) than the more traditional bookmark style (organize it yourself).

She then described to me how she organizes her bookmarks, and I was fascinated by her way of thinking about sites. She organizes them based on action (see, shop, read, share, etc.). I organize mine in kind of a strange way too. My bookmarks I organize by how often I view them. So I have a folder full of “weekly” bookmarks and a folder full of “daily” bookmarks. Inside the daily ones, I have my Bloglines reader, which contains all the sites I would ordinarily bookmark except that they have RSS feeds, so I’d prefer Bloglines to keep me informed of when they update instead. So every day, I open all the sites in my daily folder in tabs, and every week I open my weekly bookmarks in tabs. And any non-bookmarked site I visit I just use Google or Firefox’s own “smart” address bar to find.

How do you all (my small set of loyal readers—thanks for visiting!) organize your bookmarks? Or do you bother organizing them at all? Or do you even have bookmarks?

Computers Web Browsers

Online communities can be good things

I’ve been a Ubuntu Forums member for well over three years now. I am also now a moderator of the forums. For a while now, I think my wife has considered me a bit of a weirdo, as I’m constantly writing support to and getting support from all these people I’ve never met and probably will never meet in person.

But recently she’s joined up an online forum herself and realized that, yes, if you have a relatively obscure interest and not many people share that interest with you in “real life” (i.e., among your in-person friends and acquaintances), then online communities are a good place to get support and information.

No one close to me uses Ubuntu as her primary operating system. I’m surrounded by Mac and Windows users. So if I have a question about Ubuntu, where do I go? Online. It makes only logical sense.

It also means that all the naysayers who think “Oh, no! What if Ubuntu becomes really popular and everyone starts using it? The online forums will overload! There will be too many support requests for the forums to handle” are ignoring the fact that for many people online forums are a fallback. If “everyone” started using Ubuntu, most people wouldn’t go to a forum to get support with technical issues. They’d go to their tech-savvy family member or friend, just as they do now with Mac and Windows. It’s only the tech-savvy family member or friend who will have to resort to forums when she is unable to figure out the problem herself.

I realize there exist people who generally prefer online communication to in-person contact (sometimes I do, depending on the context), but for many folks, online connections are just fillers for a void in in-person connection.

Web Browsers

Already switching back to Firefox from Google Chrome

When Google Chrome hit the scene a little while ago, I was excited. Scott McCloud’s online comic book (although confusing at times) was a good sell on Chrome’s features, and I particularly liked the way it handles each tab as a separate process.

Immediately, on my computer at work, I installed Chrome and started using it as my default browser. The speed was amazing. In terms of rendering pages, it seemed to be as fast as Opera, and the interface responsiveness made it seem even faster. I also dug how Chrome’s version of the “speed dial” was dynamic based on the pages you’ve visited (in Opera’s you have to set the speed dial pages manually).

But, alas, Chrome (like Opera) has annoying tab behavior. It opens new tabs next to the current tab. That doesn’t work well with how I browse. I like to open links in new tabs at the end of the row so that I can get to them eventually. I don’t like to switch to them right away after closing the current tab. I tried to put up with it for a while, but Firefox is the browser that works with my style. Maybe someone will come up with a preference hack for Chrome that will change the tab behavior. Until then, I’ll remain a Firefox user.

Web Browsers

I can’t say I’m a fan of this new keyboard shortcut in Firefox

You’re not going to convince me not to use Firefox. I’m allowed to rant about it without people trying to push other browsers on me. I’ve already tried Opera, Konqueror, Epiphany, Galeon, Dillo, Lynx, and Ka… Kaha… whatever that other browser is.


That stupid new Control-Q keyboard shortcut, though. Control-W (close tab) is a regular part of my browsing experience. I open tabs. I close tabs. But then Firefox recently added in Control-Q (quit Firefox) as a keyboard shortcut. It sounds like a good idea. I’m actually a big fan in general of the Cmd-Q (Mac OS X) and Control-Q (KDE) approach. There should be a relatively easy way to quit an application (Alt-F4 is not a comfortable keyboard combination for me).

But, of course, Control-Q (quit Firefox) is now right next to Control-W (close tab), and I often find myself quitting when I want to just close a tab. Yes, I know I can have Firefox confirm when I want to close, but I don’t want it to confirm… I just don’t want it to close. If someone knows of an about:config trick to turn off Control-Q, let me know. In the meantime, I have Firefox set to open with the same tabs from my last session.

Computers Web Browsers

Giving OpenDNS a try

With stories in the tech news about a recently discovered DNS flaw that allows malicious parties to redirect even properly-typed-in URLs to spoof sites’ IP addresses, I got curious about this OpenDNS I keep hearing about. Supposedly it’s faster and also blocks phishing sites, has patched the DNS flaw, has 100% uptime, and allows configuration for blocking other categories of sites as well.

If the terms DNS, IP address, URL, and phishing have you confused, I’ll give you a quick explanation of at least my basic understanding of them. If you have a cell phone, it’s very likely, you store your friends’ and family’s phone numbers in there, but you don’t browse by phone number—you browse by name. If you see Aunt Myrtle and call her, your phone has a translation for itself that says “Aunt Myrtle is really 212-867-5309.” That’s basically how DNS and IP addresses work, too. When you want to go to Google, you type (the URL) in the address bar of Firefox, Opera, Safari, or Internet Explorer; you don’t type (the IP address). The DNS server translates the URL to the IP address. If there’s an exploitable flaw in the DNS server, the people exploiting the flaw may be able to take the proper URL you typed in and point it to an improper IP address. In the analogy I gave before, it would be as if someone messed with your phone and made it so Aunt Myrtle really called 911 instead of 212-867-5309.

Well, I think I see a slight increase of speed, but maybe it’s just a placebo effect. I don’t know. I’m giving OpenDNS a go, and we’ll see if I can live with it hijacking my keyword URL search in Firefox. I know some people have privacy concerns, but really my privacy isn’t any more secure with my ISP’s DNS server than with OpenDNS’s DNS server.

Apple and Mac OS X Computers Linux Ubuntu Web Browsers Windows

Firefox 3 Download Day: Good Publicity Stunt

Unless you keep up with tech news, you may have missed it, but this past Tuesday was “download day,” in which Mozilla was hoping to set a world record for downloads by encouraging its users to download Firefox 3 on its release day.

I don’t think there was actually a previously held world record, and I’m not sure how meaningful the 8 million number means. It doesn’t mean there are 8 million users, only 8 million downloads. I myself, did three downloads that day. There was someone on the Ubuntu Forums who did seven downloads. There may have even been people writing scripts to download Firefox. Who knows?

But let’s just say there were 8 million unique downloaders. So what? According to Internet World Stats, only a little more than 1/5 of the world population has internet access. That means only 0.6% of internet users downloaded Firefox on download day. If we were to assume that the entire world had internet access, that’d drop the percentage down to 0.1% of users who downloaded that day.

Those numbers aren’t very encouraging. Actually, they aren’t discouraging either. They’re pretty much meaningless, as we know the Firefox web browser marketshare is anywhere between 10% and 50%, depending on the country.

All it means is that most Firefox users had no clue there was a download day. They just went about their daily lives actually using Firefox instead of re-downloading it. Still, it was a good publicity stunt… at least for those who do read the tech news. It made the front page of the technology section of Google News practically every day this week. I don’t think any download record will ever mean anything, but you’ve got to hand it to those Mozilla folks for getting some good hype.

Linux Ubuntu Web Browsers Windows

Why is Firefox in Windows better than Firefox in Linux?

I like Firefox. I use it at work. I use it at home. I get annoyed when I have to use other people’s computers and they don’t have Firefox installed. I have to say, though, as a three-year Linux user, that Firefox on Linux sucks, and that there’s absolutely no good reason for this suckage.

Here’s what sucks about Firefox on Linux:

  • Flash crashes. Yes, I know this is an Adobe problem and not a Firefox (or Ubuntu or whatever distro you use) problem, but it’s still a problem, and it’s annoying. It sucks. There are generally times of stability. Every now and then, though, Flash will crash on you. I’ve found this often happens when you have a lot of tabs open and try to close the last tab that’s open that has Flash embedded in it.
  • Tab jumping uses Alt instead of Control. In Windows, it’s cool to jump to the fifth tab by pressing Control-5 or to jump to the second tab by presing Control-2. In Linux, you have to press Alt-5 or Alt-2. Not as cool. It makes for awkward hand positioning, where I have to took my thumb or pinky under my hand.
  • Click doesn’t select the whole URL. This doesn’t bother me that much, as I generally use keyboard shortcuts (F6 or Control-L), and I know the setting can be changed in about:config, but a lot of new users get confused and frustrated by this behavior, and it’s annoying for it not to be the default.
  • Flash interrupts scrolling. If you have a middle-scroll button or finger-scroll touchpad, your cursor will stop dead in its tracks when it hits an embedded Flash element. Doesn’t happen in Windows, just Linux.

I guess that’s it. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be—a rather short list, but the Adobe Flash-related ones are particularly annoying. Ah, Adobe…

Computers Ubuntu Web Browsers

My online alter ego

Most people who know me in person (what some people refer to as “in real life”) don’t know that I have an online alter ego. Participating in a social networking site like Facebook does not mean you have an online alter ego (unless the people you are “friends” with are people you’ve never met in person). Your online alter ego is the person you are to people you have “met” online and even befriended online and had arguments with online but have never met in person.

I try, believe it or not, to make my online alter ego as much like the in-person me as possible, but somehow people who “meet” alter ego me don’t always react to me the same way in-person people do. A number of factors contribute to the difference in reactions:

  • Whether we admit it or not, when we meet people in person, we judge them by how they look—and not just their facial features: we judge them by physical stature, mannerisms, gestures, tonal inflections, eye movements, and other social cues.
  • Online venues tend to cut down on a lot of the small talk that happens in in-person social situations. People online have shared with me their sleeping habits, political opinions, sexual orientations, pet peeves, angers, and joys without asking me where I went to school or how long I’ve lived in the Bay Area.
  • Online venues offer anonymity, which leads to more honesty… and sometimes unwarranted abuse.
  • Written language allows you to put more thought into what you say. You can edit, you can proofread, and you can mull over before anyone even has an idea that you are even considering offering an opinion.

You’d think that with all those factors involved, people would think more highly of my online alter ego than they do of me. Such is not the case most of the time. I’m a friendly guy. People in person tend to like me (or at least do an awfully good job of pretending they do). Online, though, I’ve had people accuse me of being sexist, racist, homophobic, too politically correct, pedantic, lacking in a sense of humor, and enforcing draconian policies (I’m a moderator of an online forum). Oddly enough, I’ve had people accuse me of opposite things. Some people have said I’m anti-Linux. Others have said I’m a Linux fanboy. Some have said I’m too pro-Gnome. Others have said I’m biased in favor of KDE. Some have lorded over my newbieness with their “leetness” (re: elitism), and others have considered me to be very knowledgeable in the geek realm.

All of this makes me wonder if some of the people online whom I’ve grown to like and respect would actually get along with me in person. I suspect probably not. Many of the people I connect with in the Ubuntu world or even through this blog are anti-gay gun-toting right-wingers, or at least present themselves that way. Some of them drink too much beer.

Well, such is life… and online life. I’ll close with a message from my online alter ego: If you don’t read me laughing, it’s not because I lack a sense of humor; it’s because your joke wasn’t funny.