Ungoogled-Chromium removes Google traces from Chromium

Ungoogled-Chromium is a fork of Chromium that puts the focus on privacy and security by removing Google traces and other bits of code from the browser that weaken privacy.

The custom browser is available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and as source code.

Chromium is an open source web browser that Google Chrome and other browsers such as Vivaldi or Opera base their code on.

Companies like Google use Chromium as the base for their browser. They add features such as auto-updating, plugins, media support and other features that are not available in Chromium.

There is a misconception however that Chromium is completely free from Google's grasp as Google is the major contributor to Chromium's code.

Ungoogled-Chromium

ungoogled chromium

If you look a bit closer at Chromium -- not talking about the actual source here but the preferences and what you see when you start the browser -- you will notice some links to Google.

Chromium uses Safe Browsing for instance which is powered by Google. There are several other bits and traces of Google in Chromium that make Chromium less independent than it appears to be.



Ungoogled-Chromium is a fork of Chromium that strips many of these bits out of the browser to improve user privacy.

It behaves in most regards just like Chromium but with the following main differences:

  1. Features that communicate with Google or weaken privacy are removed or disabled.
  2. Binaries are stripped from the source tree. Binaries are build from source, or used when the system provides them.

If you dig deeper, you find the following core changes that are made during the ungoogled-chromium creation process:

  1. Many web domains referenced by the browser are substituted with qjz9zk.
  2. Functionality that is specific to Google domains, Google Host Detector, Google URL Tracker, Google Cloud Messaging and Google Hotwording among others, are disabled.
  3. Search provider "no search" added to Omnibox to disable searching.
  4. Automatic formatting of the omnibar is disabled (no more http:// stripping).
  5. Disable Safe-Browsing, WebRTC, Intranet Redirect Detector.
  6. All pop-ups are forced into tabs.
  7. Clear HTTP authentication cache on demand from the "more tools" menu.
  8. Disable JavaScript dialog boxes from showing when a page closes (Sad to see you go, here is an offer you may be interested in..).
Read also:  Gmail Sender Icons for Chrome: better sender identification

As mentioned earlier, ungoogled-chromium works pretty much like Chromium. You do need to be aware that certain features are not available in the browser or disabled. This may not be a problem if you have disabled those features such as Safe Browsing anyway -- if possible.

Verdict

Ungoogled-Chromium delivers a custom version of Chromium that focuses on privacy above anything else.

The project will certainly be of interest to the privacy-conscious crowd who prefer not to use Google services or even Chromium.

One question that only time will tell is if the team will be able to keep up with producing new versions of the custom Chromium version.

If it manages to do that, and that as stable as Chromium itself is, it could gather quite a large following.

Now You: What's your take on the ungoogled-chromium project?

Summary
Author Rating
5 based on 8 votes
Software Name
Ungoogled-Chromium
Software Category
Web Browser
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Responses to Ungoogled-Chromium removes Google traces from Chromium

  1. Yuliya October 5, 2016 at 2:28 pm #

    "Many web domains referenced by the browser are substituted with qjz9zk."

    What if someone registers that domain?

    • khidreal October 5, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

      I think the domain is already registered, for the devs that made the ungoogled chromium... I think they would be a lot stupid if they didn't registered the domain, otherwise someone could just register that domain and know the information. I don't think there is any developer stupid enough to do it. Now if the devs use the information, that's a different story.

    • Martin Brinkmann October 5, 2016 at 3:01 pm #

      They use that as the domain extension, e.g. http://www.9oo91e.qjz9zk/chrome/intl/en/welcome.html instead of the default Chromium welcome page.

    • Yuliya October 5, 2016 at 3:49 pm #

      khidreal, Martin
      Thanks for the info. Given the name I thought they just mashed the keyboard and replaced google_com with it. lol

  2. tod October 5, 2016 at 2:35 pm #

    I can't find the 64-bit Windows version

    • khidreal October 5, 2016 at 2:59 pm #

      why you want 64 bit? unless you gonna run 100 websites and tools on your browser that make the browser use more than 3.5GB ram (which is an absurd amount of ram for a browser), you won't ever need a 64bit version. all programs I have on my computer are 32bits with exception of 2 programs (that are 64bit version only) among 19. Using 32bit programs also ensures that your programs don't go out there and abuse resources, you never know if the program will start leaking ram for no reason and fry your ram plate and force you to buy another, so 32bit version programs also can be used for security (and money saving)

      • Roger December 18, 2016 at 11:23 am #

        it actually shows you have no knowledge of computing.

    • Jerry October 7, 2016 at 2:27 am #

      Eloston, the project's developer, will compile a 64-bit version.
      https://github.com/Eloston/ungoogled-chromium/issues/62

  3. David October 5, 2016 at 2:45 pm #

    Nice. Would like iOS version :)

  4. Dave (again) October 5, 2016 at 3:03 pm #

    This fork should be called Zero-G

  5. CHEF-KOCH October 5, 2016 at 3:05 pm #

    64-Bit version not exist yet but will be in next version.

  6. Maou October 5, 2016 at 4:59 pm #

    There is Inox browser too, that I think is managing to keep up with chromium release cycle, and Iridium browser for Windows, both promise better privacy.

    Sometimes I try Chromium out of curiosity, it's really fast, but once I configure it and install all my extensions it gets slower than my Firefox.

  7. Rocky October 6, 2016 at 12:14 am #

    I'm liking the idea but is disabling Safe browsing a good idea ? What to replace it with ? I think you are right in saying that the key question is whether the devs will be able to keep up with new Chromium versions.

  8. wonton October 6, 2016 at 2:39 am #

    the only problem with Chromium there are closed source components required for the browser to work. these components still contain googles data collection features that can not be disabled so all these forks that claim they promise better privacy are flawed from the beginning. yeah they send less data to google but with the closed source components well they can not control them

  9. CHEF-KOCH October 6, 2016 at 8:13 am #

    Chromium or Chrome are secure, such hardening is only to minimize or elliminate the conections to e.g. the cloud-sync.

    In FF this plays less a role since you can sync to your own server but not in Chrome. The other gimmicks like WebRTC are not really for securing anything, it's more gimmick. WebRTC is a protocol which is not more or less secure like evrything other protocol. The problem is to remove everything make less sense, since a lot of pages will start using it, it would be 'smarter' to fix this in protocols itself so that even if a ' Malicious' page could't abuse it even if they want it. It's false sense to think that removing everything helps in this case if most attacks not even work like that.

    Another example is HTML5 and the auto-download problem, people then using maybe infected addons to stopping this, instead that needs to be fixed within browser/protocol, which also would reduce a lot of attack scenarious. But since only less people understand it, it's like praying in the dessert. Better install another 100 addons and remove everything and think you are more secure, you definitly not get much benefit from that, except problems on some pages.

    Hardening makes only then sense if it takes long time to fix protocol related stuff, e.g. if it it's known there are weak stuff.

  10. Rocky October 6, 2016 at 10:35 am #

    Perhaps we are becoming paranoid about Google ? I find myself swinging from one extreme to the other on this. Just yesterday I was trying to switch off Google Now on my phone and had cause to visit the My Activity page on my account - I was disconcerted to find records of each time I had opened any app (even non-Google) . I started disabling Google apps on the phone but now on reflection I realise it was a feeling of discomfort at the tracking rather than an identifiable reason for distrusting Google that lay behind this - I really don't know anymore whether to remain paranoid or just to embrace Google apps and benefit from them.

    PS @Martin off topic. I find the new layout on the site less navigable than before. On my iPad the site scrolls horizontally rather than vertically and the comment section seems to be missing ?

    • . October 6, 2016 at 12:42 pm #

      Rocky, don't give in, remain paranoid! :)

      • iowaman October 6, 2016 at 3:11 pm #

        Yeah, especially if you're up to sketchy stuff online. Otherwise, it's utter nonsense.

  11. Pierre October 6, 2016 at 2:19 pm #

    Thks for the article
    Good idea : there was no stable version of Chomium in Windows, only in Linux. But it seems it's not the only aim...
    Some questions :
    the recommended dowload link ?
    What channel is available ? Stable ?
    How is the update done ? Manually ?
    Are the securities updates included ?
    In what folder does it install the program ? The profile ? the same as Chromium strictly speaking ? Or is there a clear separation ?
    Thanks !

    • Jerry October 7, 2016 at 2:23 am #

      > there was no stable version of Chomium in Windows, only in Linux
      Sorry, there are stable version on Windows, Mac and Linux for several years.
      https://chromium.woolyss.com/

  12. Jerry October 7, 2016 at 2:25 am #

    > there was no stable version of Chomium in Windows, only in Linux
    Sorry, there are stable version on Windows, Mac, Linux and BSD for several years.
    Check chromium.woolyss.com

    • Pierre October 7, 2016 at 6:53 am #

      Woolys : I know it
      Unfortunately installer execution is now forbidden by Windows 10

      • Anonymous October 7, 2016 at 11:44 am #

        I can install the Chromium executable (Installer) on Windows 10. So, maybe your Antivirus blocks installation.

        Did you try chrlauncher? It is a free and open-source updater/launcher for Chromium (using ZIP Archive file). It works nicely on Windows 10. I use it. Contact me at chromium.woolyss.com if needed.

        (Martin Brinkmann, sorry for double posts!)

  13. Jerry October 7, 2016 at 11:48 am #

    I can install the Chromium executable (Installer) on Windows 10. So, maybe your Antivirus blocks installation.

    Did you try chrlauncher? It is a free and open-source updater/launcher for Chromium (using ZIP Archive file). It works nicely on Windows 10. I use it. Contact me at chromium.woolyss.com if needed.

    (Martin Brinkmann, sorry for double posts but I do not see result notification after form submission!)

    • Pierre October 7, 2016 at 12:06 pm #

      Thanks
      No, it's windows 10, not the antivirus, the notification wouldn't be the same
      Maybe the 1607

  14. Q October 9, 2016 at 6:36 pm #

    Unfortunately, there do not appear to be compiled binaries available for versions compatible with Windows XP (and possibly Windows Vista).

    • G October 24, 2016 at 9:30 am #

      We are being left alone... little by little.

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