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6 Alternative Browsers Based on Google Chrome

Google Chrome is based on the open-source Chromium browser project. Anyone can take Chromium’s source code modify it to build their own browser. These browsers all build on the core browser and offer unique twists on Chrome.

Each alternative browser has its own focus, whether it’s security, social networking, privacy, additional features, or portability.

Comodo Dragon

Comodo Dragon is developed by Comodo, which develops Internet security, firewall and antivirus applications. Comodo touts Dragon as having “superior security and privacy” over Chrome.

Comodo Dragon can use Comodo’s SecureDNS servers, which block access to websites that have been flagged as malicious. There’s also a button on the toolbar to quickly scan the current website with Comodo’s Site Inspector tool.

Comodo also adds additional privacy features. It can always launch in incognito mode or permanently disable the browser’s HTTP referrer header. Comodo also includes its own updating service, which you can disable if you want to manually install updates.

RockMelt

RockMelt is a social browser with tight Facebook integration. It has a similar concept to the now-discontinued Flock browser. Install RockMelt and you’ll be prompted to log in with Facebook.

You can opt out and use RockMelt without Facebook, but there’s not much point. RockMelt’s strength is its Facebook integration.

At the top of the screen, you’ll find Facebook notifications. The right side lets you chat with your Facebook friends, while the left side contains “RockMelt apps” — mobile versions of websites that appear in small pop-up windows.

If you’re a Facebook addict, RockMelt might just be for you.

SRWare Iron

We’ve covered SRWare Iron in the past. It’s a privacy-conscious version of Google Chrome with many features removed completely. It also removes Chrome’s auto-updater — you’ll have to manually download new versions from the SRWare Iron website.

To be honest, SRWare Iron doesn’t offer much over Chrome. You can change the privacy options in Chrome yourself. SRWare Iron also ships with a custom start page with advertisements and, when you click the “Get more extensions” link, it takes you to SRWare Iron’s own page listing extensions — also filled with ads.

SRWare Iron can also install extensions from the Chrome Web Store, but you have to head there yourself.

CoolNovo

CoolNovo, formerly known ChromePlus, is a version of Chrome created by programmers in China. It adds a pile of new user interface features, including a sidebar. It also adds some other features that you can get in Chrome with extensions, such as mouse gestures and the ability to run Internet Explorer in a tab.

CoolNovo also has a wide variety of options for controlling tab behavior — there’s an entire section dedicated to tabs on the Options page.

Google Chrome Portable

The official version of Google Chrome can’t be installed as a portable app. Google Chrome Portable is a slightly modified version of Google Chrome that you can install on a USB flash drive and take with you. No more, no less.

Chromium

Okay, Chromium isn’t technically based on Google Chrome — it’s the other way around; Chrome is based on Chromium. Chromium is the completely open-source version of Google Chrome. Chromium lacks many features found in Chrome, including the Google Updater, the bundled Flash plugin, the service that optionally sends usage data to Google, and non-free codecs like MP3 and AAC. Without the update service, you’ll have to update Chromium yourself.

Google doesn’t release stable builds of Chromium. If you want to use Chromium, check out the Chromium Portable website.


Do you use any of these browsers, or do you prefer Google Chrome itself? Let us know in the comments.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 03/15/12

Comments (24)

  1. eson

    The “Download Chromium Daily Builds” links, have not been working for a long time.

  2. robert

    I am using the Comodo Dragon.It is really good .

  3. Anomaly

    I use SR Ware Iron for one main reason, true ad blocking. Chrome doesn’t block ads, it covers them up. You can see this when the ad loads then disappears. The Ad Block and Ad Block Plus extensions for Chrome don’ truly block ads and won’t be able to until Chrome changes how extensions hook into the browser. Iron uses an ad block ini file and blocks ads from being down loaded. The speed increase over Google Chrome is very noticeable.

  4. insanelyapple

    Im also using SRWare Iron, because of safety – it doesnt spy me like Chrome.

  5. Ubu

    I wouldn’t feel safe switching to Iron, letting a big-corp like Google “spy” on me seems better than taking chances with a brower of some unknown little developer.
    Chromium seems like a good alternative to chrome, but quickly gave up because getting it looks ludicrously circumstantial.

  6. Dana Ross

    Great article. Thanks.

  7. Technobabble77

    I use Comodo Dragon on all my Windows pc’s. I think it’s very well managed and a very stable internet browser.

  8. Gen

    I’ve been using Chromium mainly because it seemed to be a lot faster than Chrome but hearing the benefits of SR Ware I may give that a go now! :)

  9. Jim

    I don’t use anything Chrome or anything to do with Google. I hate them both. Just my 2 cents worth.

  10. Wolf

    I do not use nor suggest using anything from the google family of products. My browser of choice is Firefox 3, with adblocker plus and adblocker popup blocker, Ramback, quickjava, and google redesigned.

    My backup browser is Cometbird which has been stripped of all the bitcomet and cometnetwork trash running the same add-ons as above along with foxyproxy standard, phzilla, hidemyass proxy, and noscript. I use Zone Alarm firewall and the Avast A-V, and I have the sandbox turned to Auto, and all this runs inside Sandboxie.

    I had tried Chrome when it first came out and it was as stable as a house of cards, and it still is when I install in on my program testbed computer which boots XP Pro, Vista, Ultimate, 7 Pro, and the soon to be removed Windows 8.

    Looking at all the childish html, and javascript and the sorry looking UI’s for google websites I understand that google really does hire programers that have no idea what they are doing.

  11. Chris Hoffman

    @eson

    Looks like you’re right. I’ll edit that link out of the post. Thanks for letting us know!

    @Anomaly

    I believe the Adblock Plus extension for Chrome can actually block ads from loading completely now. So there’s not much reason to use Iron (Not that I endorse blocking ads.)

    @Ubu

    I agree completely. Iron looks like an ad-revenue grab to me. You have to visit its website — and see ads — to get updates, etc.

    Chromium is easy to get, though. Chromium Portable is simple to install. Sorry that the original post included a non-functioning link!

  12. Saeed Iranzad

    Comodo Dragon without SecureDNS servers.
    It’s more handsome than Chrome!

  13. vicent

    I add one more. As I know Avant browser also have the version based on chrome, it’s their tri-core version, based on ie firefox and chrome, you can switch rendering engines.
    The browsers mentioned in this article,I heard some of them, I will try them one by one in the later and see if there exist some one I like.

  14. Ubu

    I just found out that Chromium actually releases builds (compiled binaries, installer) but are trying REALLY HARD to hide them. They are stored on the official server which you can’t fully navigate through but there is a website that always links to the latest official installer. getchromium.org
    I don’t really understand what is going on here, are they trying their best to make everyone use Google chrome? Are they afraid that users would complain about the instability of chromium or do they have some kind of deal with Google? I’m really confused : /

  15. Anomaly

    @Chris Hoffman

    Wrong about Ad Block and Ad Block Plus. They can block some but not most. It’s a limitation placed on them from Chrome. The extensions can’t hook into the browser the way they do on Firefox. I have Chrome installed as well as Iron and i can tell you that there is a very noticeable speed difference between the two. Also I see ads load and then disappear in Chrome all the time. They are getting covered up not blocked. I see this on Windows, Linux, and Mac. Iron uses an ad block ini file, like Opera, to block ads not cover them up.

    I don’t expect Google to change this because they would have by now if they were going to. They make their living with ads so I don’t expect them to allow an extension to have true ad blocking.

    My main browsers are Firefox and Opera. I’m not a big fan of any of the Chromium base browsers but I install them to keep up to date with what’s going on with them.

  16. cam2644

    I have SWareIron as a backup but none of the above match Firefox

  17. Meim Hakkas

    Comodo Dragon seems better for me now. their DNS helps alot

  18. Chris Hoffman

    @Saeed Iranzad

    I love the Comodo Dragon icon and theme, too. I’m tempted to use it just to get that icon.

    @Ubu

    I’ve never seen that website in my life. It also looks like it’s trying to copy Google’s website theme — but the whois information shows that it’s owned by some random company, not Google. I get a bad vibe from that website.

    @Anomaly

    Interesting, thanks for the information! I guess it’s improved and they can block more (they used to just hide and not block anything), but there’s still some they can’t hide.

  19. major.mack

    Good Post.
    Im going back to Firefox after reading this though…..

  20. Michael

    I’ve been using the browser that has been renamed “CoolNovo” for many years. I just switched to Waterfox due to the inception of 64-bit Flash. This story is great, but could you do a piece on 64-bit browsers?

  21. TNCS

    Just use ScriptNo extension for Chrome. If you are really familiar with your HTML stuff, you would know ScriptNo will take care many things that other extension taking care of.

  22. Chris Hoffman

    @Michael

    Great idea! I’ll take a look at doing such a piece.

  23. To98

    I use CoolNovo, SRWare Iron and Mozilla Firefox. Firefox is the best ;-)

  24. Philippe Hilsz

    I favor Dragon on Windows and Chromium beta on Linuces.
    Because I prefer beta releases (but not unstable), I am trying to use Chromium Portable on Windows, but I meet problems on some hardware.

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