Software often has something similar to a family tree, branching off in various directions. From this description it’s entirely understandable to think of Linux and its various distributions like Ubuntu, Arch, Mint and Red Hat, but it works with other software too.
Firefox variants fork off from the original Mozilla code quite frequently, and we rounded up a few of the best examples. Google Chrome also diverges from other variants – and is in fact a variant developed from the existence of another. This is Chromium, and it’s not the most straightforward program to install on Windows, though there are a few ways of getting it.
This installation guide is done on a Windows machine, but it will works in Mac OS X as well. Most Linux distros have Chromium in their software repositories, so installation is not an issue.
Install via Chrome
The browsers can both use extensions on the Google Chrome Store, so it’s possible to use Chrome as a conduit for downloading Chromium. This method hinges on having Chrome installed, but if you do then this is a very easy way to access the browser.
1. Begin by opening Chrome and going to the Chrome Web Store.
2. Search for “Chromium” in the extensions. “Download Chromium” is going to be one of the first results in the Apps section.
3. Install “Download Chromium” so it is visible through the Apps section of the browser.
4. Launch the app to bring up a muted grey webpage with some text. While it might be a Chrome app, it’s far from complex in its appearance.
5. Click the “Download Chromium” line at the top of the page to begin the download process. Save the installer in a directory convenient to you and wait for its completion.
6. Open the downloaded file. The installer name is “chrome-win32.zip,” meaning that it will not automatically install the software. Instead, it requires user input.
7. Extract the archive to a folder you are happy with. Due to the archive size it may take a few minutes. With administrative privileges, it would be possible to place Chromium in the Program Files folder, though any folder should work.
8. Open “chrome.exe” from the archive or extraction folder to try it out. Running from the archive will take slightly longer to accomplish and may not work with all archival tools.
If you are content with Chromium and are running Windows 7 or newer, drag “chrome.exe” to the taskbar to add a convenient shortcut. If it is oddly named when you right click the shortcut, follow these instructions.
Update via Chrome
Unlike Chrome, Chromium does not automatically update itself. As a result, you will have to update your browser periodically to ensure you remain on top of the latest security updates and features as they are introduced.
Using either Chrome or Chromium and the aforementioned Chromium Download extension, you can update the browser rather easily.
1. Begin by opening “Chromium Download” to reach the same webpage; it should be able to tell you when you last downloaded Chromium as well.
2. Use the download button to get a new “chrome-win32.zip” file saved to your computer.
3. Extract this archive to a new folder.
4. Open the folder you originally extracted Chromium to in Windows Explorer.
5. Copy all the files from the archive to the Chromium folder. Windows Explorer will prompt you to confirm the replacement of files. Authorise this action and wait for it to complete.
6. Open Chromium and use “About Chromium,” found in the drop-down menu on the right, to verify that the version number has changed. It’s possible the number will not have changed, though very unlikely if you update infrequently.
Install via repository
The Chromium project is constantly being updated, and each revision appears within the Chromium repository, making it possible to download the very earliest versions of the browser. This method is slightly more time-consuming as the repository loads slowly, but the conventional .exe installer simplifies matters.
1. Begin by opening the repository and selecting the operating system you are working with – in this case, Windows.
2. After selecting the operating system, many folders will begin to appear, with names consisting solely of numbers. The repository is enormous, so you can continue browsing and leave it in the background.
3. Click the “Name” heading over the column listing for the folder names twice, so that the builds are ordered numerically. New versions will appear at the top of the list, saving you from having to scroll.
4. Click the highest numbered folder to see a list of files within it. From these, you should click to download “mini-installer.exe” and await its completion.
5. Once it has been downloaded, run the “mini-installer.exe” file. Depending on your version of Windows, you may get the security warning shown above, but there are no further steps to installation.
Should you be running Windows 8, 8.1 or 10, then you may get the above prompt. This serves as a convenient way to determine when the browser has been installed, though it will not work on older versions of Windows.
Install via website
Woolyss offers a service to simplify downloading Chromium even further, with a list of options that will then point to the appropriate version for your computer.
1. Scroll through the website and its options until you find those pertaining to your system. Once you have found the correct entry, click its heading.
2. When prompted to download the installation file, do so to a folder that is convenient for you.
3. Run the installer and wait a few moments for it to complete, as with the repository download.
Update via repository or website
Updating Chromium after installation through the repository or Woolyss site brings less complications than using the Chromium Downloader extension.
1. Open the appropriate website and wait for it to load. During this period you can also check the browser’s version number via the “About Chromium” option.
2. Choose the appropriate entry: should you be downloading via the repository this will be the highest version number.
3. Download the “mini-installer.exe” file to your computer. If you are using Chromium at this point, you should close the browser before proceeding any further.
4. Run the “mini-installer.exe” file you have downloaded and wait for a few moments. Open Chromium again and the browser will have been updated; both run as ‘silent’ installs.
5. Check the version number again to confirm the browser has updated. While unlikely to be a necessary step, the browser does not make clear that it has been updated otherwise.
Regardless of the method you use to download Chromium, the browser will be available to use at your convenience. Though the Chrome method works and is very easily followed, we suggest the repository or website if you’d like a more long-term method of installation.
The more conventional nature of install is a positive factor, as is the fact you’ll know which build number you have downloaded.
You may encounter a few more bugs with Chromium than the browsers it lends its code to, but it is the most frequently updated of the lot. The browser and its features are at the peak of development speed, inviting experimentation with its settings.