Chrome vs. Firefox

Which browser is better for desktop Linux users?
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For a few years now, the great debate between Chrome and Firefox has raged on. Which browser is faster? Which is easier to install? In this article, I'll tackle each of these subjects, in addition to providing some personal insights on each of these topics.

Installing Firefox

For desktop Linux enthusiasts, Firefox has not only been supported longer than Chrome, it offers a bit more flexibility in terms of its installation. The most common method of Firefox installation is to install it via your distribution's package manager. However some distributions, such as Ubuntu, offer Firefox as the default browser, making any additional action from the user unnecessary.

The downside to the package manager installation approach is that you may not always have the absolute latest version of Firefox as it comes out. This is because you're dependent on the release schedule provided by your Firefox package maintainer, not by you specifically. Because of this issue, I prefer to download a self-contained installation of Firefox instead. Once downloaded, simply extract to the location of your choosing, then run the executable. The advantage to using this approach is that you're able to update Firefox from within the program itself.

Installing Chrome

To install Chrome on popular Linux distributions, all you need to do is visit the Chrome download page and select the appropriate package type. If you use a distribution that relies on Debian or RPM packages, then you're in good hands. However, if you're using a distribution that relies on something else, you may need to look to the community-supported option Chromium, instead.

When you install Chrome, the software repository is added automatically for you, thanks to the Debian package or RPM. This ensures that Chrome can be updated using the Google-created software repositories.

Best in Installation

To be honest, I'll have to give the winner's point to Firefox with regard to installation. Chrome requires a software repository for its installation, whereas Firefox doesn't. You can either use the version of Firefox provided by your distro or use the self-contained option described above.

It's also worth noting that both Firefox and Chrome are available in Beta releases. But as the term Beta suggests, these browser releases will likely have bugs. So don't judge the browser based on mishaps with a Beta release.

Firefox Speed

On a moderately recent PC, current Firefox releases run very fast. They're quick to load and use reasonable system resources upon initial startup. Overall, most consider it a fast browser.

However, the speed of the Firefox browser is affected once you begin installing add-ons. Because each add-on uses its own resources, running too many will affect performance.

Performance also takes a hit when you open multiple tabs within Firefox. As with any tab supported browser, running extra tabs affects the available resources of the systems.

One of the areas where performance takes the biggest hit, is with extensive Flash media on any given page. This is especially true with websites where there are a number of embedded YouTube videos. Firefox's handling of Flash is left completely in Adobe's hands.

Chrome Speed

Like Firefox, Chrome is also fast to load upon startup. And like Firefox, the more add-ons you install, the slower the browser is likely to run overall. Where Chrome really drops the ball, however, is when you begin opening up additional tabs in the browser. With each new tab, Chrome uses a significant amount of extra memory.

The next area of performance to be aware of is that Chrome comes with its own flavor of Flash pre-installed, called the Pepper Flash Player. In general, I've found this Flash player to be more stable than the one provided by Adobe. However, if you wish to update your Flash experience, you must wait for a version of Chrome that is also updating the Pepper Flash Player.

Best in Speed

Performance in terms of the actual speed of pages loading, etc., is about the same. I should point out that Firefox generally used fewer resources with extra tabs open while Chrome did better with Flash video content. In terms of speed, it's a tie. However, in terms of resource usage, Firefox is the clear winner here.

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Tags: open source, Linux, Firefox, Google, browser, Chrome, Mozilla, desktop, Chromium

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