Mark Shuttleworth: Google Chrome Fan

by Sam Dean - Jun. 14, 2011Comments (0)

Mark Shuttleworth, in a wide-ranging interview with Network World, has given Google's Chrome browser high praise, and discussed his plans for space travel. In the interview, Shuttleworth says that in future versions of Ubuntu, Chrome could even replace Firefox as the browser running by default. If you've used both Firefox and Chrome on Ubuntu, it's actually easy to see why, but Shuttleworth's comments on Chrome also ignore some important reasons why many users favor Firefox.

In his comments to Network World, Shuttleworth commented on whether Chrome actually might replace Firefox as the default browser in Ubuntu installations:

"It's a real possibility...We looked at it closely in the last cycle and the decision was to stick with Firefox in 11.10."

Note that Shuttleworth is not referring to the current version of Ubuntu. Version 11.1 is slated for release in October. Shuttleworth said specifically that Firefox will likely remain the default browser for another year, but he clearly is a huge Chrome fan.

What many people may miss in these comments is that Canonical worked closely with Google on the development of Chrome OS, which uses the Chrome browser as its central desktop environment. Shuttleworth says that the work Google is doing on Chrome OS "is having a hugely positive impact on the performance of Chrome on Linux," in the Network World interview.

Anecdotally, I have found this to be true as well. Chrome on Ubuntu runs much faster than Firefox does for most applications that I care about. It's very fluid, starts faster, and is generally more dependable.

At the same time, though, incremental speed improvements aren't the only reason that people look to Firefox. Although Chrome runs many extensions now, Firefox still offers the broadest universe of available extensions, and extensions are part of why many people switched to Firefox. That said, in a year's time, when Shuttleworth seems to feel that Chrome would be a good candidate for being the default in Ubuntu, Chrome may have closed the extension gap.

Shuttleworth also told Network World that Chrome on Linux may be the best browsing experience of all on any OS. There may be some truth to that, depending on what types of applications you run. Certainly, Safari on the Mac OS and Internet Explorer on Windows are no longer competitive with Chrome on Linux. Chrome is still a young browser, but it has become a cross-platform force to be reckoned with in a very short period of time.


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