Posted by: reformedmusings | October 10, 2009

Google Chrome dev in 64-bit Linux

Post updated/corrected 10/11/09.

I’ve been toying with Google Chrome development version in my 64-bit Ubuntu Jaunty 9.04. I downloaded the .deb and installed it with GDebi Package Installer. Installation proved simple as usual for Ubuntu. Chrome transferred over my bookmarks and settings from Firefox. However, it doesn’t pick up the Ubuntu theme or window effects, so (see correction below the screenshot) It comes up in its default theme:


You can choose other themes, but I didn’t bother. Correction 10/11/09: I did not understand the settings correctly. Thanks to evmar’s help in the comments below, I was able to get Chrome to fit the compiz theme. Simply go to Options -> Personal Stuff, then click on “Use GTK+ theme”, then select “Use system title bar and borders”. This will make the Chrome borders match your compiz-fusion theme. You may have to restart Chrome to get the window controls on the right side of the title bar.

I had no intentions of reconsidering Chrome after my initial trials with the Windows version. Firefox with Adblock+, NoScript, and Flashblock spoiled me with a clean, safe browsing experience. Chrome had no extensions at that time, so ads and miscellaneous scripts assaulted me at every page browsed. Ouch.

But now, extensions are available for Chrome (HT: OMG! UBUNTU!). The catch is that there’s apparently no standard extension API like Firefox has the extension API is still under development. Consequently, extensions experience varying levels of success.

Adbock+ for Chrome isn’t the same as Adbock+ for Firefox. It isn’t nearly as effective, and is not particularly easy to use. It seems simple on the surface, but in fact generally only blocks single ad elements when selected. It also apparently cannot block ad leaders to news videos, either. You can add ad sites to block, but you have to master the syntax and type them in by hand. Ad blocking for Chrome has a way to go, and is probably something Google hopes never succeeds.

There is also Flashblocker for Chrome, but it only works in the 4.0x dev builds. It worked a bit better than the ad blocker. WOT (Web of Trust) is available for Chrome. It’s a site rating/warning extension that works great in Firefox. In search results, it displays a rating icon next to result URLs. Its rating icon in the status bar seems to do OK in Chrome, but I have yet to get the tooltip or rating popup window to work.

There’s also a weather extension called AniWeather for animated weather. I installed it, but couldn’t get it to accept my location or any other for that matter on installation. It appeared on the status bar with temperatures and weather, but the weather was apparently from NY. Clicking on the icons should bring up details, but that didn’t work either. But…after about 5 minutes the popups started working. I was able to go back into setup to reenter all my preferences and this time it all worked. It looks like there’s an error on the initial setup script. Once I enabled scripts and flash for its weather source, all worked fine. Update 10/11/09: Well, I am getting inconsistent performance from AniWeather. One consistent problem is that the weather icons in the popup windows are always corrupted with unrelated window remnants. It also takes a while for the popups to work after loading Chrome.

I installed Cleeki, which is like IE 8 accelerators for Chrome and Firefox. This one is way cool. Their website has a nice video on how it works. By highlighting any word and clicking on a little icon that comes up, you get a popup window that can search a host of sites, map of a location, etc. Hovering over a hyperlink also provides that icon, which leads to a popup preview of the underlying website. Very, very slick implementation that doesn’t affect the underlying page. I liked this one so much that I installed it into Firefox to replace Hyperwords. Update 10/11/09: The more I use Cleeki, the more I like it. This extension is a real gem in both Chrome and Firefox.

You can get to your extensions to reinstall, uninstall, or update them by typing “chrome://extenstions/” into the address bar:


This is pretty handy, but not on par with Firefox’s extension management. Although a few extensions provide a rudimentary summary of their keyboard shortcuts here, you cannot change their options from this screen.

I also benchmarked 64-bit Chrome 4.0’s Javascript speed against 64-bit Firefox 3.5.3 using this image editing test based on Javascript. Chrome’s times came in at around 110 ms on loading, whereas Firefox centered around 280 ms. This is only for Javascript execution and does not reflect in general page rendering times, which seemed about the same for both. I did not notice any rendering issues with Chrome 4, nor any issues with Flash animations or movies. Update 10/11/09: evmar said that the 64-bit V8 engine is still in development, so hasn’t reached the performance of the 32-bit version. I will try to keep track of the engines growth to maturity and report back.

Here’s how Chrome looked after I set all this up:


I could go on, but I think that you have the idea. Chrome for Linux is very much a work in progress, as are the extension development efforts. It was fun for a few hours, but eventually became frustrating. For one thing, I like my tabs at the bottom of Firefox, but I didn’t find any way of changing that in Chrome there’s no way to move them in Chrome. In fact, Chrome’s customization ability remains very limited. I applaud those developing Chrome and writing extensions and encourage them to continue. I also commend the dev team’s commitment to Linux, especially 64-bit builds since that’s the future (should be the present, but that’s another story). I’m sure it will all work out when Chrome matures. In the meantime, Firefox 3.5 is still king.

BTW, I wrote this post in Chrome.



  1. Try Options -> Personal Stuff -> Set to GTK+ Theme.

  2. Thank you for your suggestion. I gave it a try. Chrome didn’t pick up the colors or effects (border transparency, shadowing, etc.) of my compiz-fusion setup. I’m using a very nice glass theme that I created under Emerald, but Chrome seems oblivious to the whole concept. I’ll leave it set to GTK+ and see if future versions catch on.

  3. […] Google Chrome dev in 64-bit Linux « Reformed Musings – view page – cached I’ve been toying with Google Chrome development version in my 64-bit Ubuntu Jaunty 9.04. I downloaded the .deb and installed it with GDebi Package Installer. Installation proved simple as… (Read more)I’ve been toying with Google Chrome development version in my 64-bit Ubuntu Jaunty 9.04. I downloaded the .deb and installed it with GDebi Package Installer. Installation proved simple as usual for Ubuntu. Chrome transferred over my bookmarks from Firefox. However, it doesn’t pick up the Ubuntu theme or window effects, so it comes up in its default theme: (Read less) — From the page […]

  4. Sadly, compiz doesn’t like it when we try to draw our own window frame; the missing shadow is a compiz bug. You can tweak the other setting about window frame (it’s next to the GTK one) though you might find that also looks suboptimal. Unfortunately, there’s no good technical solution available.

  5. Copy all. I had the window border suppressed. When I enable the system borders, I get the top border with transparency once I restart Chrome, but as you say, not the shadowing [update: shadowing works with system border enabled and GTK+ theme selected]. They take up too much room, though, when added to the top area in Chrome above the tabs so I turned them back off.

    Is there any way to move Chrome’s tabs to the bottom? Also, does this 64-bit Linux version of Chrome implement the V8 Javascript engine?

    Thanks for your interaction on these matters.

  6. Hm, with system borders on the compiz stuff should work. Can you post a screenshot on ?

    Tabs to the bottom: no, sorry.
    64-bit v8: yes, but it’s still under development so the performance doesn’t yet match the 32-bit v8.

  7. I’m sorry for the misunderstanding – my bad. The compiz borders and shadowing worked fine with system borders selected. The Chrome window was against the edge of the screen, so the shadow wasn’t visible. In fact, the combination of using the GTK+ theme and having system borders turned on makes Chrome generally fit the compiz theme.

    I look forward to playing with Chrome more when the 64-bit V8 engine reaches parity with the 32-bit engine. I was very impressing in 32-bit.

    I’ll review my post for corrections based on your help here. Thanks for taking the time.

  8. (To be clear: the 64-bit v8 performance is very good, perhaps better than any other 64-bit browser; it’s just not up to the high bar set by 32-bit v8.)

  9. My quick benchmark for this post showed that Chrome’s 64-bit V8 performance is just over twice that of Firefox. That’s a good start!

    I believe that I fixed my post based on your helpful setting suggestions. I’ll keep periodic tabs on the V8 and extension developments. It does look promising!

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