Chrome 9 on Linux
|Chrome running on Redhat Enterprise Linux 6 host OS.|
Chrome is playing back a YouTube video using HTML 5.
In the course of my real work, I've had the opportunity to try out various combinations of Linux and Chrome on some of my lab systems, just to see how it all works together. I've installed Chrome on two versions of Linux; RHEL 6 and Fedora 14.
Chrome was installed on RHEL 6 using the bog-standard Google-supplied RPM. I originally installed Chrome version 8 in this manner. What I noticed and certainly appreciated about Chrome on RHEL 6 is that Chrome 'inserted' itself into the regular software update structure of RHEL 6. Now, every time a new release is pushed out, the update icon lights up on the panel, and when I click on it, Chrome updates are installed just like they are under Windows. The installation under Fedora 14 is through the regular repositories, and updates come along with all the other Fedora updates. Again, smooth, simple, and clean.
Chrome 9 on RHEL 6 is extremely fast to start; so fast, that I barely have time to lift my finger off of the left mouse button before the window appears. Chrome 9 on RHEL 6 renders every site I care about without flaw and with excellent speed, just like Chrome under Windows. In short, for 99% of everything I do on the web, Chrome 9 on RHEL 6 is indistinguishable from Chrome 9 on Windows XP.
That 1%, however, is important. That's where I lump Adobe Flash support. Chrome for Linux x86-64 doesn't come bundled with Flash the way it does for Windows XP 32-bit. As a consequence I try to use HTML 5, especially for YouTube. YouTube now allows you to opt-in to using HTML5 video if your browser can support it. I've done this already for Firefox and Chrome under Windows, and it works. It works equally well (or, depending on your point of view, equally bad) under RHEL 6. If the video is encoded to play with the video tag and (I assume) Google's codec, then it plays smoothly, and the audio plays equally well. If it isn't encoded to play with the video tag, then I get the regular "you must use Flash x" message. In fact, if you look at the first screen capture, you'll see the message underneath the video exhorting me to upgrade to Flash 10 "for improved playback performance." Interesting.
|Chrome 9 on RHEL 6 and crashing while attempting to run a WebGL demo application.|
Only the application crashed, not the browser.
While most everything works just fine in Chrome 9 on RHEL 6, WebGL is another story. The screen capture above shows just one of the example WebGL demos crashing out on Chrome 9. This isn't a knock against Linux, it's actually a knock on Chrome. I can assure you that WebGL demos fail just as spectacularly under Windows XP.
|Lab machine setup, with VirtualBox hosting a running instance of Fedora 14 in the background,|
and attempting to boot openSUSE 11.4 milestone 6 in another VM in the foreground.
One other test was to attempt to boot openSUSE 11.4, milestone 6, using a VirtualBox VM for openSUSE 64-bit. I should note I'm still using VirtualBox 3.2.12. When I attempted to boot openSUSE M6, it crashed. I have no idea why, and I'll probably try this again when the release candidates start to roll out, but I would want to try this with VirtualBox 4.0.2 to see if the same behavior occurs again. Unfortunately, I now have a stable installation with RHEL 6, VB 3.2.12, and all my other VMs where everything works, including virtualized USB device support, so I'm in no hurry to break that with an upgrade just to satisfy my curiosity. Too many other distros work under my current lab setup. I have no burning reason to get openSUSE running, except perhaps nostalgia. They don't pay me to be nostalgic where I work.
On the right hardware platform, and for the right reasons, Linux is every bit as solid as any other commercially available OS; Windows, Mac OS X, and Solaris. I didn't say it was better, I said it was just as good, and a worthy option when considering an OS platform. Every tool should be selected based on merit, not ideology. And there's plenty of merit in some of the Linux distributions.