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.