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Google betas Chrome for Mac, Linux

And 300-plus extensions

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Google (finally) released beta versions of its Chrome browser for Mac and Linux on Tuesday, along with over 300 extensions for Windows and Linux.

Sorry, Mac users - extensions "aren't quite beta-quality on Mac yet", according to a Google blog posting announcing the new-release trifecta.

Google offers an introductory video for the long-delayed Mac beta, which notes that the Webkit-based browser integrates Mac OS X's spell-checker and Keychain, plus OS X's built-in sandboxing system. There's also a four-video collection of marketing fluff touting Chrome's speed, stability, and features - if watching cutesy Rube Goldbergian contraptions is your cup of tea.

At first blush, the Mac beta seems snappy and polished, although most improvements over Apple's Safari - such as each tab being a separate process - are under the hood rather than immediately apparent.

Chrome's New Tab page, for example, mimics Safari's Top Sites page, although with a more-straightforward and more-limited array of pages, and with similar customization options such as arranging and pinning. Chrome's version, however, offers more history info and more viewing options.

Google Chrome Tab Page
Apple Safari Top Sites

Chrome's New Tab page (top) and Safari's Top Sites (bottom) have much the same role - but Apple's looks a bit more "Appley" and Google's provides more info and viewing options

One Chrome feature stands out, however, that does trump Safari: what Google calls the Omnibox - a combined search field and address bar.

The Linux beta includes what Google describes as "tight integration" with GTX+ themes, is updated via the normal system package manager, and as promised on The Chromium Blog, "works well" with Gnome and KDE.

For users who want a deeper dive into the philosophy and structure of the Chrome browser, Google offers a 39-page comic book detailing the dev team's goals and providing an overview of the structure of Chrome's underpinnings.

Google Chrome comic book

Take a 39-page tour through Chrome's innards, comic-book style

As of Tuesday morning, Chrome's extensions gallery lists 337 extensions for Chrome's Windows and Linus versions, arranged by most popular, most recent, top rated, and featured. Among today's 37 featured extensions are a news reader, lyrics finder, weather tracker, and - as might be expected - utilities for such Googley offerings as Gmail, Voice, Calendar, Blogger, and more.

You can download the Mac beta here (Intel-only, Mac OS X 10.5 and higher) and the Linux beta here (Debian/Ubuntu/Fedora/openSUSE). ®

Bootnote

In the company's email announcing the Mac beta release, Google lists "a few fun facts" about the development process, including:

  • 73,804 lines of Mac-specific code written
  • 29 developer builds
  • 1,177 Mac-specific bugs fixed
  • 12 external committers and bug editors to the Google Chrome for Mac code base, 48 external code contributors
  • 64 Mac Minis doing continuous builds and tests
  • 8,760 cups of soft drinks and coffee consumed
  • 4,380 frosted mini-wheats eaten

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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