Google’s Chrome Web browser; A First Look

So I decided to try out Google’s new web browser, Google Chrome (“Chrome”)

… so far I’m not sure on my opinion. I was, I think, hoping to be blown away. I was hoping that it would be Safari in Firefox’s clothing, and frankly it isn’t. It is just “okay” which is a little disappointing from the company that gave us Google Maps, Google Earth, and lets face it a search engine which at its inception was unique in not being part of a portal.

Don’t get me wrong though. I really like that the Safari development team are putting all this focus into making WebKit faster and better, that it supports newer web standards than before, and so on, but for some reason I just really like Firefox – particularly FF3 which I’ve been using out of the nightly builds (minefield) for a while now. There are some things which are bloody annoying about it – I loath the “awesome bar”, for example, because I can’t stand the popping up stuff. I also feel that the Firefox extension, Firebug, is, without question, the single most useful application I have ever encountered. I really can’t imagine being able to work without it.

With that said, I must say that I was actually pretty pleasantly surprised to see that Chrome does include Safari’s Javascript Console – and its very nice that it is right there on the menu like the latest Safari, rather than requiring the hocus-pocus that earlier versions of Safari/WebKit required. Its useful to find, but I’ve already discovered a couple of issues.

Firstly; And this is pretty big for me, you can’t run it within Sandboxie. If you’ve never used it, Sandboxie is a very useful piece of software which creates “sandboxes” inside which your applications can run. These sandboxes have restricted access to the computer so applications within a sandbox can, for example, read all of your files, but not write to them. When they write to a file they actually write to a copy of the file. This is great for stopping people breaking into your machine via web site exploits because they generally need to install software, or make changes to files. The sandbox stops (or at least “mitigates) intrusion attempts because an attacker can only write to copies of files – copies which can be deleted by emptying the sandbox – preventing them from overwriting files on your computer. An attack which causes the execution of code sees the program run within the sandbox only – and thus any files it writes are also written to the sandbox.

All-in-all its great software and I do all of my web browsing through it with all browsers that I use (Firefox, Safari, Opera, IE5.5 -> IE7) (Yes I test lots, I only use FF normally) and they all work. Google’s Chrome … doesn’t. All it does is say that a page can’t be loaded, or that a page is taking too long and asks me if I want to kill it. Killing it doesn’t work, of course.

Apparently this is an issue with Chrome needing to use kernel mode drivers. I haven’t been able to find out more details as to what and why, but it seems sort of strange. Its almost as though Chrome is deciding to bypass the normal Windows way of doing things… :-)

Anyway, that sucks and the only solution I’ve seen so far is to disable so setting which allows any sandboxed application to use kernel mode drivers, which doesn’t sound safe.

Running it outside of the Sandbox I can bring up web pages. My -moz-border-radius and -webkit-border-radius CSS directives appear to be ignored. This is decidedly uncool since rounded corners are all the Web 2.0 rage. More importantly though is that a select list with a background-image attribute appears to result in a black background. I’m not sure why as yet, but the Firebug inspired JavaScript Console is certainly handy in fixing it.

So while Chrome looks pretty and the sandboxed/threaded tabs sounds like a good plan, its missing somethings that work otherwise, so its coming out as “neh”. I doubt I’ll change anytime soon.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: