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7 Reasons Why I Have NOT Switched To Google Chrome From Firefox

I just finished reading 7 Reasons Why I Switched to Google Chrome from Firefox. I found the article a bit on the fanboy side, and I'll address each of his points here, while also saying my reasons why I'm still holding on to the Firefox browser as my default browser.

First, Andrew mentions that Google Chrome has a "much faster loading time". I have Google Chrome installed on both my work laptop running Windows XP and two of my GNU/Linux machines, one running Ubuntu 9.04, the other running Debian Sid. In all three cases, Google Chrome does launch from cold boot noticeably faster than Firefox, but the daily web browsing is not so noticeable. Unless I'm benchmarking the two browsers side-by-side, which is really only good for showing benchmarks, I don't see any recognizable differences in speed when rendering HTML, CSS or JavaScript. I've used both Chrome and Firefox with Gmail, Google Wave, and many, many other processor-intensive sites, and I see no such conclusion that Chrome has a "much faster loading time" versus Firefox, who is making the web a slow experience.

Second, he addresses that Chrome doesn't crash. Funny you say that. I've had both the stable version running on Windows XP and the unstable version running on GNU/Linux tank very recently. It only happened once, in both operating systems, and I have not been able to reproduce it, but it wasn't just a tab failure. The whole browser went south. I honestly don't even know what happened, but I do know what I was doing, and what was lost, but I'll address that in a second.

Thirdly, he likes some of the snazzy tab features with Chrome. It's apparent though, that the features he addresses in Chrome also exist in vanilla Firefox 3.5, such as the ability close all tabs other than the open tab (right-click the open tab, select "Close other tabs"). I do wish Firefox would get closing tab order and tab placement correct though. It does bother me that when I open a link in a new tab, it doesn't open the tab right next to the current, and when closing tabs, it doesn't do so in oldest to most recent opened tab. However, that's the beauty of Firefox- extensions, which again, I'll cover in a minute.

Fourth, I do like the default home page in Chrome, and I wish Firefox had it. I'm hoping we'll see it in 3.6 or maybe 4.0. However, it's hardly anything new. As usual, Opera pioneered the feature, Safari followed suit, then Chrome. It is a leg up on Firefox, however.

Fifth, the Omnibar in Chrome is no different than the AwesomeBar in Firefox, except for the search functionality. But, seeing as though the search box in Firefox is just a tab keystroke away, I hardly find this inconvenient, and worthy of a reason for switching browsers. Further, it's limited in its search scope- it can only search from one engine, Google by default. The search bar in Firefox is much more customizable, giving you the option to add virtually any search engine to the browser. Google, Wikipedia, eBay, Ubuntu packages, and so forth. Sure, you can change the default search in the options in Chrome, but you have to change the option by opening the options dialog every time you want to make the change, rather than just do it on the spot ad hoc.

The sixth option is just silly. Known more widely as "porn mode", every major browser comes with this feature, even in Firefox 3.5. A mere "ctrl+shift+p" will put Firefox into "Private Browsing", not saving an ounce of history to disk. Further, rather than opening a new window, it caches off your currently open tabs, closes them, and puts the new porn mode tab as the current tab, all in the same window. When you're finished, stopping private browsing will restore your tabs from the saved cache, including any text you might have typed in any form field. Sorry, but this point I found rather silly.

The seventh point is likely just as silly. Firefox has had a bright future from the outset. It truly is the poster child for a grass roots open source project that becomes mainstream. Version 3.6 is looking up, and 4.0 has a bright future as well. According to the browser market share trends, Firefox has been up, up, up.

Now, here are seven reasons why I won't be switching from Firefox to Google Chrome as my default browser in the foreseeable future:

  1. Extensions- I know this is "in the works" for Google Chrome, but I can't ditch Firefox just yet. I have a must set of extensions for every install of Firefox I ever make. I used to keep an updated list of such extensions, but I haven't updated in a while. Maybe I should do so. But, on every install, I need AdBlock Plus, FoxyProxy, FireFTP, Firebug, Web Developer, Tab Mix Plus, Weave, NoScript and Flashblock, just to name a few. Again, I understand it's only a matter of time with Chrome before extensions appear, and they will sand-boxed too, increasing the stability and security of the browser. However, Chrome isn't there yet, and as such, Firefox remains my browser.
  2. Caching- Firefox is the only browser that I know of that gets caching right. If, for any reason, my browser crashes, and I was typing an email, when I pull the browser back up, not only are my tabs restored, but the data in the tabs as well, including each tab history, and the text in any form fields that I was editing (provided I'm keeping a history of everything, as is default on a new install). I can't even begin to tell you how valuable this feature is. Yes, the whole browser crashes with Firefox, versus single tabs with Chrome, but when Firefox comes up, my data is in tact. When I restore the tab with Chrome, form fields and text boxes that were once populated are now blank.
  3. Cross Platform- Even though I have Google Chrome installed on my Debian and Ubuntu machines, Google Chrome is still very much a Windows application. It just hasn't reached prime time for Mac OS X or GNU/Linux. So, unless I'm ready and willing to take the rolls with the punches, I'm stuck on Windows. Yes, Google Chrome is getting more and more usable every day on GNU/Linux, but it's still unstable and comes with bugs.
  4. Portable Firefox- Being a college student, I've come to love Portableapps.com. I can take so many applications with me on a USB stick, plug them into a Windows machine at school, and off I go. Firefox is no exception. I can have all my extensions, plugins, settings, bookmarks and so forth with me on a single USB stick. This way, I don't have to worry about installing Firefox should it not be installed, and I don't have to prep it installing and configuring it the way I like. So, until Chrome becomes a portable app as well, which I don't think should take long, Firefox is here to stay.
  5. Speed- Firefox is still a fast browser, and 3.6 is looking to up the ante even more. Tracemonkey is comparable to speed with V8 in terms of JavaScript engines, and HTML/CSS rendering is also snappy. In fact, I noticed a great improvement from 3.0 to 3.5 in terms of speed. And when browsing the sites I do from day-to-day with Firefox and Chrome, I honestly can't tell if one is faster than the other. Yes, from a cold boot, Firefox is a second slower. Maybe two. Other than that, IMO, it's neck and neck, and as a result, I see no reason to switch browsers if speed is a factor.
  6. Configurability- Firefox is the only browser I know of that tinkering under the hood is a snap. Just pulling up the "about:config" URI, and I can tweak to my hearts content, and I have. I've modified the way DNS is handled. I've modified the way proxies are setup. I've changed the backspace key behavior, and much more, and it's easy. Further, if I don't like the setting I've made, I just change it back, all while it's running in a tab in the browser. No need for open dialog windows, or taking you away from your work.
  7. Support- This might seem like somewhat of a weak point, but Google Chrome has a bit to go before the community reaches the masses that Firefox has amassed. Support forms, IRC channels, wikis, mailing lists and on and on. If I need help with the Firefox browser, I'm likely to get the support I'm looking for, regardless of the platform. As Google Chrome increases it's market share, there's no doubt that it will increase it's support options and community as well. However, it's not there yet, and literally pales in comparison to Firefox. There is strength in numbers.

These may or may not be your reasons for sticking with Firefox, but they are certainly mine. Firefox is a solid browser that is showing tons, and tons of potential. While it might not have some bells and whistles that Chrome has, such as a process per tab, or sandboxing extensions, it's still a robust and stable browser, and as a result, still remains my default browser.

{ 24 } Comments

  1. Jonathan Carter using Debian IceWeasel 3.0.14 on Debian GNU/Linux | October 12, 2009 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    If you install Google Toolbar in Firefox it will give you that same 'homepage' with the recent sites you've visited, etc.

    It does a few other intrusive things but you can edit it.

  2. Juan C Nuno using Google Chrome 4.0.221.8 on GNU/Linux | October 12, 2009 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    The Omnibar and the AwesomeBar are worlds different. The AwesomeBar is so much better. I usually use Chrome. But I go back to Firefox for web develoment. Nothing beats Firebug.

    But yeah, when I'm doing my day-in, day-out browsing, I find myself missing the AwesomeBar so much. It learns. Stuff I go to more often, and type more often, filters to the top. Chrome doesn't seem to learn as well as Firefox does.

    And ah, I'm _so_ not using Safari 532.2 on Mac OS X :)

  3. Scaine using Firefox 3.5.2 on Windows 7 | October 13, 2009 at 1:33 am | Permalink

    Looks like extension development is well underway for Chrome now. Like you, though, I'll be sticking to Firefox until they produce a FEBE-like extension.
    http://www.chromeextensions.org/

  4. N Hasian using Firefox 3.5.3 on Ubuntu 64 bits | October 13, 2009 at 1:50 am | Permalink

    I'm so used to using mouse gestures that I cant go back. I use Firegestures in Firefox. I hope they will make a chrome version soon.

  5. David using Shiretoko 3.5.3 on Ubuntu 64 bits | October 13, 2009 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    Both Chrome and Firefox let you swap search engines using keywords, so I don't see that big of a difference between the two. I never use the dedicated search field in Firefox, and find it a pain to use. So much easier to just type in "g browser market share" (Google) or "wp David" (Wikipedia), or "yt Japanese Game Show" (YouTube) etc. in the address bar.

  6. Christian Archer using Minefield 3.7a1pre on GNU/Linux 64 bits | October 13, 2009 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    > It does bother me that when I open a link in a new tab, it doesn’t open the tab right next to the current

    Vanilla FFX 3.6 has this feature

  7. Rick Harding using Google Chrome 4.0.221.8 on GNU/Linux 64 bits | October 13, 2009 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    I've gone to Chrome for all things not dev on my machines.

    It is faster, noticeably so. Startup, page rendering, and handling 10 tabs when I have to do some mass stuff for work.

    The bar is much nicer in Chrome. It selects the first entry removing my need to move to the arrow keys every time I enter something in the bar. That alone is awesome, but I actually found that the learning in the Chrome bar is weighter more toward the domain names so that I get less garbage selections due to matches in query params/etc on other pages.

    Now I still use FF for development. Nothing is > than Firebug and related tools.

    I also can't believe Chrome doesn't have a quick way to add a sites RSS feed to a reader (in my case Google Reader). Huge oversight IMO.

  8. Dylan McCall using Google Chrome 4.0.222.5 on GNU/Linux | October 13, 2009 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Nothing against your preference, (I love Mozilla, too!), but you missed two things that are really relevant.

    First of all, Chrome does extensions. Not in as awesome a way from the outside (nothing like addons.mozilla.org), but the extensions themselves work really well. It's more like Epiphany, where you can install and then run an extension at once without restarting the browser.
    Check out http://www.chromeextensions.org/ for a pretty solid, and, naturally, growing, list.
    chrome://extensions/ shows what you have installed. I don't pay any attention to Chromium development, but I suspect the feature will be made more prominent somewhere in the future.

    Secondly, you should check out the History feature in Chrome. It's really cool. Amazingly fast. Not sure why Firefox's is sluggish, actually, since they use the same kind of database. 2.6 will probably have it sorted.
    Speed isn't everything, though. It also stores some of the page content, so if you remember particular words from an article you read (even if those words weren't in the title or the URL) you can search and find it.

    Personally, I prefer Firefox's Awesome Bar to Chrome's Omnibar. Omnibar has nice search stuff, but I have a heck of a time finding pages I have been to and bookmarks in there. It doesn't seem to give them enough weight, and they don't look as pretty. (Having the details split over two lines with the favicon is really nice).

    Also, Firefox definitely has a better bookmarking system. In fact, Firefox has my favourite bookmarking system ever because I am a compulsive bookmarker. I can just press the star button and it's done. (Now, if only I could tie those to something that would remind me about the bookmarks after a set time...). Chrome, weirdly, doesn't seem to do tags for bookmarks and requires me to file them. (No magic "unfiled bookmarks" folder, unless you want to jam Other Bookmarks with junk).

  9. Dylan McCall using Google Chrome 4.0.222.5 on GNU/Linux | October 13, 2009 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Your user agent thing (which says where I posted from) is broken, by the way. I posted from Chromium on Linux :)

  10. Aaron using Debian IceWeasel 3.0.14 on Debian GNU/Linux | October 13, 2009 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    For all those posting using Chrome or Chromium, your user agent string is identifying you as Safari on Mac OS X. This is because Google is pulling a great deal of code from the Safari codebase, and as a result, the useragent string is what it is. I'm sure there might be some subtle difference between the Safari useragent string and Google Chrome's, but the issues should be taken upstream. FYI.

  11. Agus Winata using Firefox 3.5.3 on GNU/Linux 64 bits | October 13, 2009 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    I think you're forgot one thing, Chromium or Google Chrome consume alot of my cpu resourse.,. atm i'll stick with firefox

  12. Christian Archer using Minefield 3.7a1pre on GNU/Linux 64 bits | October 13, 2009 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux; en-GB) AppleWebKit/527+ (KHTML, like Gecko, Safari/419.3) Arora/0.9.0

    Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686 (x86_64); en-US) AppleWebKit/532.2 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/4.0.221.8 Safari/532.2

    Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US) AppleWebKit/531.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.3 Safari/531.9.1

    These User Agent strings are quite definitive about both browser and operating system. As we see, true Safari has Version/... substring where others use their titles. The real fallback for Safari/... should be WebKit

    p.s. I use Firefox 3.7 pre-alpha. I'm a pervert, I know :-D

  13. nasrullah using Google Chrome 4.0.221.8 on GNU/Linux | October 13, 2009 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Chrome is working well on my Kubuntu Jaunty.........

  14. ikkefc3 using Google Chrome 4.0.222.5 on GNU/Linux | October 13, 2009 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    The scrolling speed of Chrome is noticeably better on Chromium than about any other browser on Ubuntu (only Midori comes close).
    On a netbook, this makes a huge difference, but even on my desktop with a Geforce GTX 260 and an Intel Core i5 quadcore, Planet Ubuntu doesn't scroll fluently on Firefox, while it does scroll very fluent on Chromium (when scrolling fast).

  15. opensas using Google Chrome 4.0.222.3 on Windows XP | October 13, 2009 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    here you have a portable version of chrome, and a few surprises...

    http://www.chromeplus.org/download.html

    and here you have another option, with the focus on privacy...

    http://www.srware.net/en/software_srware_iron_download.php

  16. gedece using Google Chrome 3.0.195.25 on Windows XP | October 14, 2009 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    One thing that must be added to this analisys is that each tab in Chrome is a different process with a different memory space. This not only means that when you close a tab you recover every bit of memory you used on it (wich doesn't happen in firefox, where you recover most of it but not all of it, and in the long run produces memory fragmentation). It also means that unless the main process or gears are compromised (which could hang the entire browser) each tab failure is handled by the tab, freeing the rest of the browser. This means that the browser can crash (so does firefox) but it's more unlikely to do so.
    Third, the private mode, being on a different proccess and memory space is light years more secure than most browsers private mode. Other browsers don't remember things, granted, but they don't sandbox the private mode, meaning anything nasty happening in other browsers private mode doesn't stay only in the private mode.

    So yes, I like firefox a lot, and it's far better under GNU/Linux that Chromium so far, but let's not ignore Chrome strongest point: sandboxing.

  17. Minter Affic using Shiretoko 3.5.2 on Linux Mint 64 bits | October 14, 2009 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    There is one other reason Google Chrome should not be used. It does not render websites correctly at all.

  18. kumar using Firefox 3.5.3 on Windows Vista | October 14, 2009 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Chrome (the last version I've tried, which was v3x) does not have a 'master password' feature to safeguard all my saved passwords. Firefox has been having this for some time and it's a real killer factor for me.

  19. Rob Bean using Safari 531.2 on GNU/Linux 64 bits | October 14, 2009 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Browser choice and the like seem to be almost a personal preference these days. Since the rendering engines are limited to Webkit and Gecko these days, choosing which "wrapper" to use is entirely dependent on what feature set you need.

  20. Anonymous using Firefox 3.0.14 on Ubuntu | October 14, 2009 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    You didn't mention one of the biggest drawbacks to Chrome: each install of Chrome generates a "cookie" that uniquely identifies that particular installation no matter where you connect to the net from. It gets sent to Google at least 24 hours, but also with every search query, and in some other conditions. And it can't be turned off. For a company whose motto is "don't be evil", tracking and storing your user's web browsing habits at such a detailed level certainly sounds pretty evil to me.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Chrome#Usage_tracking

  21. Florian using Firefox 3.0.14 on SuSE | October 15, 2009 at 5:05 am | Permalink

    Regarding to your speed argument, even when trying to keep my cache clean and autocompletion-db tidied and vacuumed, when I accidently close FF and click on a link somewhere it takes ages for it to start from fresh.
    Additionally on some machines the awesomebar-completion gets stuck for a whole second or two after typing the first 1-2 letters. Annoying. and I haven't found a fix.
    Agree to the Chrome crashes. exactly as frequently as FF.

    Oh well, I'm using both (especially if I need to be logged in to the same site twice, basically all the time) and I'm also very fine with both, no big zealotry needed, they can happily coexist.

  22. Roshan using Firefox 3.0.14 on Ubuntu 64 bits | October 15, 2009 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    You can use Tabs Open Relative to make Firefox <3.6 open tabs in a sane manner.

    You can hit Ctrl-K to go straight to the Search box. Ctrl-Up and Ctrl-Down will then shift through the search engines. I prefer this to hitting 'en' on Chrome and waiting for en.wikipedia.org to show up so that I can hit Tab and then search. Too slow.

    Firefox bug 125970 is a pain in the ass. It makes Slashdot unusable (which is in the greater good, but a browser should not make this choice). Chromium is less susceptible.

    P.S. The ordering of your post-a-comment fields could use a little improvement. Hitting tab from the 'Website' field should go to the 'Comment' field, not to Preview, as it just did on Firefox 3.0

  23. Thomas M using Google Chrome 4.0.222.8 on GNU/Linux 64 bits | October 15, 2009 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    Chrome seems very promising and it has become my browser of choice. As a webdeveloper I still use Firefox for development because of the extensions but for plain browsing I find chrome to be more performant and comfortable.
    Performance might be not an issue browsing the web but load a heavy backend in ff and chrome and you will see a difference.
    Also the chrome developers seem to care more about linux users than mozilla does. FF's Performance under linux is much worse than under windows and unless you go into configuring the default looks like crap on KDE. Chrome while still young have already a 64Bit Linux optimized version on the way. I use the daily snapshots and things improve by the day.
    As an example I've been browsing the whole evening on chrome and it uses 51 MB RAM with currently 6 tabs open. I just fired up firefox and with no tab open it already uses 56MB.

    btw for the browser detector - I'm using chrome on Arch linux :-)

  24. Dan Kegel using Google Chrome 4.0.222.5 on GNU/Linux 64 bits | October 17, 2009 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    The session restore problem you mentioned
    might be http://crbug.com/7584

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