Recently, I’ve been playing around with Ubuntu MATE, an official flavor of the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Overall, I do like it. But one thing I wish it came with was Chrome and Chromium. While no distro ever includes Chrome, some do install Chromium. While I like Firefox, I do prefer to use either Chromium or Google Chrome for my web browsing needs. Today, let’s briefly look at Ubuntu MATE and then I will teach you how to install Chromium and Google Chrome on Ubuntu MATE so you can access these amazing browsers on your Linux laptop.
What Is Ubuntu MATE?
Ubuntu MATE is what Canonical calls an official flavor of Ubuntu. What does that mean, exactly? It means that the main company responsible for Ubuntu views this version of Ubuntu as another official version of it’s leading Linux operating system. So what’s different about it? Essentially, it is Ubuntu running the MATE graphical user interface.
Now I’ve tried many different versions of Linux and virtually every flavor of Ubuntu. This one is one of my personal favorites. It keeps much of the cool look of Ubuntu while giving you a graphical interface that is much more computer friendly. By that I mean it doesn’t require as much power to run, freeing up valuable computing power for what’s really important – your apps. In my opinion it strikes the perfect balance between whiz bang effects of a GUI and resource consumption.
This makes Ubuntu MATE great for lower powered machines and virtual machines, and will really allow your apps to shine if you install it on a high powered machine. Of course, by using MATE, how you go about using it is a little different than other distributions. That’s why today I wanted to focus on how to install two of the most popular browsers on it – Chromium and Google Chrome.
Differences Between Chrome and Chromium
At first glance, you might not notice any differences between Google Chrome and Chromium, other than the color of the icon. While they are very similar, there are a few differences. Chromium is the open source project started by Google to help develop the Google Chrome browser. The original intention was for Chromium to provide the base for what was to become each version of Google Chrome. While this is still true, developers took the code and created their own browsers under the Chromium name. Eventually, this led to Chromium becoming its own browser, even though it is still used to develop features for Google Chrome.
There are a few differences between the two browsers. For example, Chromium does not ship with Adobe Flash Player, while Chrome has its own version built right into Chrome. Chrome also ships as a packaged installer that will auto-update. One of the biggest differences you will find is codecs. Chromium sticks to its open-source roots and doesn’t include any proprietary codecs for things like AAC or H.264. Instead, it relies on the open-source ffmpeg codes to do all the heavy lifting. That’s not to say you can go back later and install what you need, as Chromium can be easily customized.
Past that the browsers are very similar, although there are a few other minor differences found in the licensing and logo usage.
Installing Chrome on Ubuntu Mate
First, let’s look at how you go about installing Google Chrome on your Ubuntu MATE operating system. Overall, it’s probably one of the easiest installations you will ever perform on Linux. I guess we can thank Google for that one. Ready?
1. Go to this link and click the Download Chrome button.
2. Google will automatically detect the type of Linux operating system you are using and display the terms and conditions. Click the Accept and Install button.
3. Once the installer downloads a Package Installer Window will pop up. Click on Install Package and then enter your administrator credentials to run the install.
4. Navigate to Applications – Internet and click on Google Chrome
5. Sign into Chrome with your Google account.
That’s all there is to it. Hands down this has to be the easiest install I have ever done in Ubuntu, not including the installs you can do using the Software Centre, that is. Still, for download and install, it’s fairly simple. Once you enter your Google account, all your bookmarks will sync and you will have access to everything you need to use Chrome on Ubuntu MATE.
Installing Chromium on Linux
The install for Chromium works a little differently from Google Chrome. In most cases, you will need to perform the install via command line, although the steps to perform the install are pretty easy to do, even for Linux beginners.
1. Open a Terminal window by going to Applications – System Tools – MATE Terminal.
2. First, update your package list so you are sure you have the most recent packages available to you.
Sudo apt update
3. Once your package list has been updated, install Chromium.
Sudo apt install chromium-browser
4. Go to Applications – Internet and run Chromium.
5. Sign into Chromium using your Google account.
Like Chrome, once you sign into Chromium using your Google account all your settings and bookmarks will sync to Chromium. In many ways, using Chromium will feel just like Chrome, although you may notice a few differences here and there especially when it comes to playing video online.
Which Should You Choose?
One question I get asked quite often is: Should I use Chromium or Google Chrome? The answer, like so many things, is far from simple. In the end, both browsers work almost identically to one another, with a few differences, especially in the realm of video playback. I would say it would depend on what you are trying to accomplish.
If, for example, you are trying to setup an environment made up completely of open source software, then go with Chromium. While a few things will be more complicated, such as updates, video support and installations, you won’t be bound by any annoying terms of service and Google won’t be collecting as much data about you.
But, if you want a more seamless Chrome experience and you want everything to just work for you, then Chrome may be the better solution for you. While you will have to deal with Google’s data collection, everything will just work, including Flash, video playback, and more without you having to spend time tinkering with it to get it going.
On the other hand, if you are like me, then you can install both and run them side by side. Although I do have a hard time deciding which to use as my default browser.
Chromium and Google Chrome are both top notch browsers, and you really can’t go wrong with either on your installation of Ubuntu MATE. But remember, there are a few differences and these differences may mean that one will work better for you than the other. I encourage you to try them both and see which one you prefer. Now that you know how to install both of them, there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t give them both a shot. This is Linux after all, and it’s one of the best operating systems to play around with and learn. Who knows, you may not notice any differences at all, depending on how you use your browser and what websites you visit.
Do you prefer Chromium or Google Chrome? Tell me what you think about these browsers and what your experience with them is like in the comments below.
About the author
Matt is an IT professional with over fifteen years experience supporting network infrastructure and computers. An avid gamer, Matt enjoys his time playing and writing about his experiences both in the IT world and in the gaming communities. You can find more of his writing for LaptopNinja where he enjoys talking about everything tech.