If you use Google Chrome (most of the people reading this article) or you read around the web occasionally, you might’ve heard of this little thing called “Chromium”. The context you’re most likely to hear this in is “Chromium-based”, but searching for Chromium just gives you what seems to be an alternate version of Chrome.
In this article, we’ll clear up any confusion you might have by explaining the difference between the two browsers, as well as how something can be Chromium-based.
Let’s just get this right off the bat. From a user-end perspective, Google Chrome and Chromium are basically the same thing. They share an interface, extensions and most basic features. The main difference is that Google Chrome is the consumer-faced version of Chromium, customized by Google. It’s usually pretty stable, and unless you opt into Chrome Canary, you’re not going to be dealing with a lot of bugs or crashes in the main browser.
Chromium, however, is essentially Chrome distilled to its purest form. Before Google does a lot to it, with all the latest features actively being tested. This means that it can be very buggy and unstable, and it usually is. In fact, it’s kind of supposed to be- the issues are there so that developers can identify their causes and fix them, which later results in a more powerful, more stable version of Chrome for everyone else.
But that doesn’t explain browsers being Chromium-based, like Opera’s current version. Also, what’s this stuff about “open source” and “developers”? Well…
Most of Chrome comes from the Chromium Project, and the Chromium Project, like many others, are open-source. Open-source projects allow anyone to view, edit and make changes to the program, with the goal of everyone working together to make the best possible application. Many applications are born this way, and so are various distributions of Linux, an open-source kernel for literally thousands of operating systems.
Chromium is the open-source base from which Google Chrome is built, in addition to other browsers. It’s sponsored in part by Google, of course, and Google’s devs obviously have a hand in it. If you’re a developer or want to get into web development, take a look at Chromium. But if you’re like most Internet users…just use Chrome.