Brings Google's Chrome Browser to Intel Macs
by Alan Zisman (c)
published in Low
users have been busily choosing sides in the new browser wars. The
majority, inevitably, stick with Microsoft's Internet Explorer. It is,
after all, the choice that requires no choice - just click on the blue
'e' that's already in a prominent place on the computer desktop.
Mozilla Firefox - linear descendant of Netscape, victim of Microsoft in
the first round of browser wars - has been coming on strong, especially
with the recent release of Firefox 3, promising better performance and
Other Windows-platform browsers such as Opera hover on the sidelines.
a new party was heard from, initially through the surprising medium of
a comic book, sent out (printed on paper - not online) to Google
developers. A few days later, the comic
book appeared online
Google quickly following it up with the release of the actual product -
a beta version of Google Chrome
, a browser based (like Safari) on
WebKit rendering engine. It's only available for Windows at present
(despite the presence of Google's Eric Schmidt on Apple's Board of
Within its first 24 hours online, enough copies of
Chrome had been downloaded to account for 1% of all browser traffic,
though that rate has slowed down since. Chrome offers a minimalist
interface and fast performance, particularly when loading
process, so if a Web-service stalls or crashes, it only affects that
single tab, not the browser as a whole and not the whole computer.
Google has promised versions for Mac and Linux as soon as possible,
apparently it was built using Microsoft's open sourced Windows Template
Library; this means it will require extra work to create versions for
Despite that, Mac (and Linux) users are not
entirely unable to see what the fuss over Chrome is all about. Yes, if
they've got a handy Windows system - or have a Mac capable of booting
to Windows vis Boot Camp, or a Mac or Linux system with one of several
virtual systems (Parallels, VMware Fusion, or VirtualBox on Intel Macs,
for example), they could download and install the Windows version of
Chrome and run it after booting to Windows.
there's another way, a way that lets users install and run Chrome right
on their Mac or Linux desktop - even though Google has (so far) not
managed to release a version for those systems.
I wrote about CrossOver
in February 2007. Building on the WINE project
, it's a
libraries that allows some (I repeat, "some" ) Windows programs to run
on non-Windows systems without needing to boot Windows. It doesn't
always work, but when it works, it's pretty cool.
people at CodeWeavers have put together a set of customized versions of
CrossOver complete with the Chrome browser, which they are calling Chromium
. There are free downloads for Mac OS X
(about 50 MB, requiring
an Intel Mac and Mac OS X 10.4 or later,), Ubuntu and Debian Linux
(separate 32-bit and 64-bit installers), Red Hat, Madriva, and SUSE
Linux, and a generic installer for other Linux distributions.
itself has been known to do something similar - their so-called Linux
version of their Picasa photo album application is really the Windows
version bundled together with a customized set of the WINE libraries.
With iPhoto included on all recent Macs, there's not much call for a
Mac version of this).
The Mac installation is straightforward;
like most other Mac applications, the downloaded .dmg opens as a drive
image and suggests you just drag the Chromium icon to the alias of your
it up for the first time takes a few moments, though, as it initializes
the CrossOver/WINE faux-Windows settings it needs to start up. Luckily,
this only happens once.
Once it's open, you've got the same
minimalist user interface that Windows Chrome users get - complete with
standard Windows minimize, maximize, and close icons in the top
right-hand corner, instead of the coloured OS X-style left-corner
gumdrops. Unlike the menu-less Windows version, there are a few menu
items on the Mac's menubar - but these are for CrossOver settings, not
for the Chrome browser at all. In fact, you can probably ignore them
Since you're running a Windows program, if you use
keyboard shortcuts, you'll have to train your fingers to use Windows
ones rather than Mac ones: Command + T for a new tab (in Safari or
Mac-Firefox, etc) becomes Control + T in Chrome. And Chrome has an
option to import bookmarks and settings - but only from the Windows
version of Internet Explorer, which won't be of much use.
than menus, there are two small icons in the upper right-corner; these
give you the ability to save pages, print, set a few options, and so
set Chrome to always display a bookmarks bar. As well, be sure to check
where it wants to store downloads, . . . (using the Minor Tweaks
options tab). One of the things that that long pause when starting
Chromiuim for the first time does is set your Mac's Users folder as a
mapped Windows Drive Y: - if you browse in the Download Location
option, you can find your usual Mac location (I prefer my Desktop). But
you'll have to fiddle a bit to set it that way.
Chrome is a work
in progress - I've been using it as the default browser on my (Windows
XP) work computer and have been pretty happy with it, but your mileage
It may be a while before Mac and Linux-native versions
of Chrome are released. In the meantime, kudos to CrossOver for quickly
providing users a way to try out Chrome on these non-Windows platforms.
If you're at all curious, give it a try.