Thursday, August 18, 2011

How to install Chromium on Windows

Note: This post was updated on February 20, 2014.

Google Chrome is a modern browser, the most advanced one we have today. But unfortunately Google, on its way to world domination, uses it to silently collect personal data from you. Yes it does, even with those anti-privacy options unset – and it further links the information to your Google account, what is even worst. But there is a way to enjoy this amazing browser, away from Google’s eyes: directly using the open source project which feeds Chrome: Chromium.

Since I couldn’t find a decent tutorial anywhere, I decided to write my own, this step-by-step guide on how to download and install Chromium on Windows.

Chromium is usually used by the developers, but it’s also available to anyone who wants. This excellent post explains in detail how the versioning works. The Chromium builds for Windows are published on Chromium repository. These builds are made automatically by the buildbot. Beware: this is the cutting-edge repository, so any version may have bugs (if you find a bug, just download another version, by the way).

You’ll notice that some build numbers are missing: it happens because the buildbot only publishes the builds which pass 100% through all the automatic tests. The most recent build number which was published is written down as latest good known revision. I prefer to download the latest build of previous version, the one who became the Chrome beta stage, which is likely to be fairly stable.

The current (February 20, 2014) Chromium version under development is 35, therefore I recommend to get the last build of Chromium 34 (build 252031) which can be downloaded here.

History of last builds:
23 (2012-09-20) 157677, 24 (2012-10-30) 164895, 25 (2012-12-19) 173798, 26 (2013-02-13) 182231,
27 (2013-03-27) 190946, 28 (2013-05-08) 198631, 29 (2013-06-26) 208550, 30 (2013-08-14) 217340,
31 (2013-09-25) 225096, 32 (2013-11-05) 233008, 33 (2013-12-17) 241258, 34 (2014-02-20) 252031.

Although named “chrome”, this is in fact Chromium. Once downloaded, unzip the chrome-win32 folder into your “Program Files (x86)” folder (if in Windows XP, into your “Program Files”). Then doubleclick the chrome.exe file, and it will automatically do three things:

  • create a shortcut to Chrome on your desktop, which you’ll probably want to drag into your start menu;
  • create a small Registry entry at “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Chromium”; and
  • create your profile folder on the following directory:
    • on Windows 7: “C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Local\Chromium”
    • on Windows XP: “C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Local Settings\Application Data\Chromium”

At this point, Chromium is ready to run.

To update Chromium: Chromium doesn’t have automatic updates, you must do so manually. To update the Chromium version to the latest (or rollback), just download and unzip the “chrome-win32” folder over your current one, overwriting all files. Your profile folder isn’t touched.

To uninstall Chromium: these Chromium packages don’t create uninstall entries on the Windows Control Panel. To uninstall Chromium, you must essentially undo all the steps done on the installation: delete the “chrome-win32” folder, the shortcut, your profile folder (if you want to remove all your personal stuff) and the Registry entry.

And that’s it. Enjoy this great browser.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do you know why the difference between chrome-win32.zip and mini_installer.exe?
Mini installer silently does a weird install to AppData, but also has a few dll files missing compared to chrome-win32.

me said...

The mini installer is the first thing that runs on Chrome setup package. It performs some basic system checks and unpacks some installation files. It's included with Chromium just for testing purposes. So, if you use Chromium (and you're not a Chromium developer), it's essentially useless.

Anonymous said...

Hi, thanks for the info, but, how do you know which one is the latest build of a given version? i.e. how did you know 136319 was the latest build of version 20 and not, say, 139984?

I thought 13xxxx was related to version 20, 14xxxx to version 21 and so on... but that doesn't seem to be true since build 139984 identifies itself as version 21.0.1160.0.

me said...

Indeed the build numbers are sequential, and they have no relationship with the version numbers. A version number is more like a tag arbitrarily attached to a build. I know which build is latest because I follow the Chromium development (I study parts of the code), but sometimes I just check them manually.

Anonymous said...

mini_installer.exe is nice as it does create the uninstall keys for the control panel.

BTW, thank you for keeping this post up to date!

Anonymous said...

Indeed! Please keep this updated. Google is obviously making it harder and harder to get hold of Chromium. (Why else name the zip file "Chrome"? And kill the previous nightly builds pages? And provide no download links at all on the Chromium Project main page?)

Your post is invaluable. Thanks again.

Dan said...

Thanks for your help trying to sort out what seems like obvious obsfucation of chromium download and use. I have two questions I could not find answers for:

1) what is the difference between the lists of builds at
http://commondatastorage.googleapis.com/chromium-browser-snapshots/index.html?path=Win/
vs.
http://commondatastorage.googleapis.com/chromium-browser-continuous/index.html?path=Win/
and which should we be downloading from? Are they both lists of builds that have passed testing?

2)Why are the specific build numbers listed at http://omahaproxy.appspot.com/ for stable, beta, and dev channels not available for download at the above addresses (assuming I'm looking at the right omahaproxy column numbers). For instance, the build chrome is based on right now, Version 24.0.1312.57, is in the table at omahaproxy: win stable 24.0.1312.57 164863. Whereas you suggest 164895. I'm sure they are very similar and the difference is inconsequential but it begs the question: "if chrome is focused on stability wouldn't it be forked from a build that has passed all testing?"

I see a lot of effort on google's part to prevent, confuse, and dissuade users from pursuing chromium (which doesn't include their usage tracking). That effort tells me it's very important to them and is reason enough for me to use any browser but chrome, and any search engine but google while I'm at it. chromium or firefox with wikipedia as new home/search page will still be a very functional combination with which to approach the web.

me said...

Hi Dan,

1) You must refer to some Software Engineering concepts to understand this. Putting it really simple: "snapshots" are all the builds which passed the automated tests, whereas "continuous" are the builds which also has passed the continuous integration tests (which are automated as well, but "broader").

2) When a build is promoted from dev, it's now beta, so it can be downloaded only from the beta channel. Also, when a build is promoted to beta, it still can be cooked for some days as dev, and a subsequent build with fixes can be pushed again into beta (I just added a link in the post explaining it better). OmahaProxy lists the base build. I wrote a shell script to check which one was the last, that's why my suggested number can be higher.

And yes, you are totally right, Google tries to keep Chromium away from regular users, because they want to keep track of browser usage and all that stuff. That's why Chromium is open source, and Chrome is not. For the average user, it's simply easier to get Chrome, that's what Google wants.

Anonymous said...

What are the advantages Chromium relatively Google Chrome, in addition to the closure of personal information from a search engine?
For example, can we say that Chromium uses less memory? What else?
Thanks!

me said...

That's not only information from the search engine, that's information from the whole browser use. If you log in with your Google account, things are even worse, because the data becomes associated and it's used to give you ads and who knows what else.

Since Google adds stuff into Chromium, technically there should be some performance penalty on Chrome (both in memory and speed), but I couldn't notice any, both worked pretty much the same to me. The main concern would be privacy, stay away from the Matrix!

Anonymous said...

can you put the link of any use to calculate shell which is more stable version for windows?. or what is the best way to know how do you know what the latest version of a particular version?

Also thanks to keep this post updated always.

me said...

Well, from my experience, the most stable build a version is the last build, because this one enters the beta branch, having then only minor modifications. So there's no calculation, it's just simple monitoring.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all this information and updates. I dont want to be tracking by google but i like Chromium based browsers. Please update this post in future.
I have one question: Is there a way to find out if last build of new version appear?

me said...

Hi, I'm glad the post ise useful to you. No, there's no automatic way to check the version number, that's really annoying.