I was wondering last week if Google will block syncing on Chromium, following their plan to cut off the tap from Chrome’s internal APIs to third-party Chromium-based browsers.
And the answer is that yes, he will do it without any mercy and with strange excuses that are not supported by any side.
I did it – if you asked me – because it was not at all clear if that blocking third-party browsers also affected Chromium, since it is difficult to consider it as a third-party browser, when it comes to a direct compilation of the Chromium source code.
However, this situation has helped me to learn something that perhaps I should have been aware of from the beginning, and that is that for Google any compilation of Chromium that does not come from the company itself is considered a third-party browser.
However, the question in question was understandable for two other reasons as well: the first, the conditions set by Chromium’s policy regarding developments that use Chrome’s internal APIs, which have been shamelessly ignored by Google.
Google has the full power to change the terms of its products at will; what you cannot do is ignore them without changing them, because they affect many parts, as has happened in this case.
The second question
The second reason is, taking into account the previous one, that I read about this matter to the director of Engineering of Chrome, Jochen Eisinger, and his response was to transfer the question to “the respective maintainers”, implying that the decision could depend on them, that is, the person responsible for maintaining the Chromium package on each Linux distribution on which it is available.
Obviously, he was not honest, when days before he was already discussing the issue at hand with different maintainers.
The discussion that makes it clear can be found in Google groups and draws the attention of, among others, the irate response of the Chromium maintainer in Slackware, although he was not the only one to comment on the subject, which was debated in the development lists of major Linux distributions.
Some even consider the possibility of removing Chromium from the repositories, due to the loss of functionality that awaits it.
In Fedora, for example, the Chromium maintainer has removed the corresponding functions in advance of the final date, which will be March 15th. But he will keep the package, at least for now.
In other distributions there is still debate about what to do, because although Chromium will continue to be a functional browser, the loss of functionality that awaits it, it must be repeated, is going to be important.
What things Google stops sharing with the open source community
As of March 15, Chromium will lose the data synchronization function (bookmarks, history, passwords, etc.) with the Google account, as well as the page translation functions, the online spell checker, all integration with the services of Google that make use of internal APIs with or without extensions, such as Google Drive, Gogle Keep, Gogle Calendar, and several other things.
A massive coating that will spell the end of Chromium as we knew it.
Because when we talked so far about Chromium on Linux, we were talking about an almost absolute clone of Chrome, with nuances: its multimedia support is not that good, but in exchange it is a 100% free browser, fully compatible with Chrome, its services and extensions – unlike the rest of derivatives – and with the option of eliminating all Google tracking of it or not, being able to synchronize data between devices, a very useful feature for those who use Chrome on Windows or Android.
Google abuses the community
As for the strange excuses that are not supported by any side, it should be noted because Google initially argued alleged abuses that could lead to security problems for the user, when the maintainers of Chromium on Linux have in more than one case using the same keys -the ones that give access to the APIs provided by Google- for a decade.
Hence the anger that some have been caught.
There are even maintainers who consider the possibility of continuing to use their passwords to preserve said functions until Google restricts access to them, in the case of Arch Linux, whose maintainer advises that when the time comes it will remove the package from the repositories; and since these keys are still publicly accessible, make it easy for users who wish to do so by themselves, although it does not seem like a solution.
From Google they warn that they will not allow abuses in that sense.
In short, if you are a Chromium user on Linux and you use synchronization and other functions linked to Google services, forget about it. Either you go to Chrome or you look for an alternative.
Fortunately, there are plenty of them.