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7 Important Privacy-Preserving Extensions for Chromium-Based Browsers

Filed under
Google
Web

According to StatCounter, 70% of all desktop users worldwide use Google Chrome as their default Internet browser. A sad fact, as Chrome is a proprietary web browser that does not respect the user privacy by default. Chromium however, is %100 open source and licensed under the BSD license. Chrome extensions do work on Chromium.

Still, we do not recommend any user who cares about his/her privacy to use Google Chrome or Chromium, as both browsers are full of Google’s integrated services which phonehome some of your data, besides their horrible default settings for privacy which block nothing by default. Instead, we recommenced using Firefox, but if you still want a Chromium-based browser to use (Whether for performance or because of the huge number of extensions… etc), then what we recommend is the Ungoogled-Chromium browser instead.

However, what can’t be completely reached shouldn’t be completely left; Here’s a list of 7 privacy-preserving extensions to have if you are still going to use Chrome/Chromium browsers anyway. Or maybe you can even use them with the Ungoogled-Chromium browser, which is a better choice.

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DRM Creep: Serious Encrypted Media Extensions on GStreamer based WebKit ports

Filed under
Web

Encrypted Media Extensions (a.k.a. EME) is the W3C standard for encrypted media in the web. This way, media providers such as Hulu, Netflix, HBO, Disney+, Prime Video, etc. can provide their contents with a reasonable amount of confidence that it will make it very complicated for people to “save” their assets without their permission. Why do I use the word “serious” in the title? In WebKit there is already support for Clear Key, which is the W3C EME reference implementation but EME supports more encryption systems, even privative ones (I have my opinion about this, you can ask me privately). No service provider (that I know) supports Clear Key, they usually rely on Widevine, PlayReady or some other.

Three years ago, my colleague Žan Doberšek finished the implementation of what was going to be the shell of WebKit’s modern EME implementation, following latest W3C proposal. We implemented that downstream (at Web Platform for Embedded) as well using Thunder, which includes as a plugin a fork of what was Open Content Decryption Module (a.k.a. OpenCDM). The OpenCDM API changed quite a lot during this journey. It works well and there are millions of set-top-boxes using it currently.

The delta between downstream and the upstream GStreamer based WebKit ports was quite big, testing was difficult and syncing was not always easy, so we decided reverse the situation.

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Rclone Browser Enables You to Sync Data With Cloud Services in Linux Graphically

Filed under
Software
Web

If you want to use One Drive or Google Drive on Linux natively and effortlessly, you can opt for a premium GUI tool like Insync (affiliate link).

If you can put some effort in the terminal, you can use Rclone to sync with many cloud storage services on Linux. We have a detailed guide on using Rclone for syncing with OneDrive in Linux.

Rclone is a pretty popular and useful command-line tool. A lot of power users will need to use Rclone for its features.

However, not everyone is comfortable using it from the terminal even if it’s useful enough.

So, in this article, I’ll talk about an impressive GUI “Rclone Browser” that makes it easy to manage and sync your data on cloud storage using Rclone.

It is also worth noting that Rclone does offer an experimental web-based GUI — but we are going to focus on Rclone Browser here.

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Break Free from Google’s Tracking With Ungoogled-Chromium

Filed under
Google
Web

For those who don’t know, Google Chrome is built on the top of the Google Chromium browser, which is an open source browser released under BSD license having almost the same features as in Google Chrome. Google’s approach is to add new features and tests to Chromium gradually before they land in the closed-source Google Chrome browser, which Google ships to the world with its own branding. It also adds its own extra layer of tracking/integrations into the Chrome browser, and some (+50) tracking services/integrations are also in Chromium.

A lot of other browsers such as Vivaldi and Brave are also based on Chromium, but they have their own approaches to remove Google’s tracking and services from it.

Ungoogled-Chromium is a community project managed by a lot of volunteers to simply remove all the integrated Google’s services and features from the Chromium browser, so that it can be a good privacy-respecting web browser, away from Google’s eyes.

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Chrome 85 Is Clang PGO'ing Binaries For Better Performance But Linux Left Out

Filed under
Google
Web

As we frequently cover, making use of compiler PGO (Profile Guided Optimizations) can mean some sizable performance wins, assuming the generated usage profile is accurate. With the imminent Chrome 85 availability, Google is now making use of PGO with their default LLVM Clang compiler toolchain for squeezing out around 10% better performance.

Going back four years ago is when Google engineers began experimenting with compiler PGO'ing for better browser performance. Back then they were enabling PGO on Windows builds carried out by the Microsoft MSVC compiler. But with LLVM Clang being Chrome's default compiler, with Chrome 85 they are now making use of profile-guided optimizations there. It took some additional time but Google is comfortable enough now with Chrome's PGO abilities.

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Also: WebBundles Harmful to Content Blocking, Security Tools, and the Open Web (Standards Updates #2)

Tails 4.10 Anonymous OS Released with Updated Tor and Tor Browser, Linux 5.7.10

Filed under
OS
Linux
Web

Tails 4.10 continues the monthly release cycle of the Tails 4.x series, adding various updated components and a number of bug fixes to improve the overall stability, reliability and compatibility of the distribution.

Based on the stable Debian GNU/Linux 10.5 “Buster” software repositories, Tails 4.10 ships with the latest Tor Browser 9.5.4 anonymous web browser and Tor 0.4.3.6 open-source client/server software for enabling anonymous communication.

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De-Googling: Chrome

Filed under
Google
Web

Moving away from Google Chrome was probably the easiest migration in my de-Googling efforts. I’m not a huge user of bookmarks, history, or extensions, so those weren’t tying me down. On the desktop, I just switched to a combination of Ephemeral (as my defaut) with Epiphany/GNOME Web as my main “real browser.”

Ephemeral is a lightweight privacy browser that I develop for elementary OS, so of course I dogfood it and have it set as the default. A key feature is that you can pop sites open in your “real” browser with one click, so I usually have that set to Epiphany—the native GTK browser that comes with elementary OS, so it’s an obvious choice.

However, some sites don’t perform well in Ephemeral or Epiphany (usually due to unnecessary user agent sniffing), so I do keep Firefox around for that. And Firefox on the desktop has gotten really good. Since Epiphany supports Firefox Sync, it’s actually pretty easy to jump between the two as needed. I also occasionally install Chromium for testing web development in a Chrome-based engine, but I don’t use it for any real browsing.

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Internet Explorer Officially Dead and PCLinuxOS Updates Chromium-Based Browsers

Filed under
PCLOS
Google
Microsoft
Web
  • Internet Explorer is dead as Microsoft kills off 25-year-old browser

    Microsoft has finally killed Internet Explorer The browser will be finished on 17 August, 2021, the company said.

  • [PC Linux OS] Vivaldi browser updated to 3.2.1967.45

    Vivaldi is a new web browser based on Chromium that is built by an Opera founder. It’s aimed mostly at power users, but it can be used by anyone.

  • [PC Linux OS] Opera browser updated to 70.0.3728.119

    Opera is a Chromium-based browser using the Blink layout engine. It differentiates itself because of a distinct user interface and other features.

  • Flashpeak Slimjet browser updated to 27.0.7.0

    Slimjet is built on top of the Chromium open-source project on which Google Chrome is also based. It enjoys the same speed and reliablity provided by the underlying blink engine as Google Chrome. However, many additional features and options have been added in Slimjet to make it more powerful, intelligent and customizable than Chrome. In addition to that, Slimjet DOES NOT send any usage statistics back to Google’s server like Google Chrome, which is a growing concern for many Chrome users due to the ubiquitous presence and reach of the advertising empire.

The API wars – 16 years later

Filed under
Web

It is more than 16 years since Joel Spolsky wrote How Microsoft Lost the API War. The bonds of the win32 API lock-in is broken and the free web is here to take over.

The web has come a long way in the past 16 years. Richer APIs, dramatic performance improvements, and an ubiquity that surpasses anything else that we as a human race have experienced. Easy of deployment is king and the easiest deployment of all is to simply browse to a web page.

Creating web apps has always been riddled by browser compatibility caveats. Various services have been around to test rendering across browsers and versions, and frameworks to address common scenarios have evolved to create a write-once, deploy-everywhere story.

The modern web browser has become our universal runtime environment. It is what Java and .net aspired to on a crazy scale. However, it is not only a runtime environment. It is the perfect client server setup to provide everything as a service.

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Web Browsers: New Tor RC, Firefox/Mozilla Trouble, and Web Browsers Need to Stop

Filed under
Moz/FF
Web
  • New release candidate: 0.4.4.4-rc

    There's a new alpha release available for download. If you build Tor from source, you can download the source code for 0.4.4.4-rc from the download page. Packages should be available over the coming weeks, with a new alpha Tor Browser release likely in the coming weeks.

    Remember, this is a release candidate, not a a stable release: you should only run this if you'd like to find and report more bugs than usual.

  • Mozilla is dead

    If Mozilla wants to survive, the management will be fired with unearned compensation, the most important departments will be strengthened, products that nobody ordered will be discontinued and the organization will be limited to its core competence. Browser, email, security, adaptability and the fight for a free Internet. And they work with all their might to ensure that the products will become an integral part of everyday life and all operating systems.

    Three months. That’s all the time they have for a clear signal. After that, users have to make a decision. Unfortunately, it will probably only be something with chromium.

    Poor Internet.

  • Web browsers need to stop

    I call for an immediate and indefinite suspension of the addition of new developer-facing APIs to web browsers. Browser vendors need to start thinking about reducing scope and cutting features. WebUSB, WebBluetooth, WebXR, WebDRM WebMPAA WebBootlicking replacing User-Agent with Vendor-Agent cause let’s be honest with ourselves at this point “Encrypted Media Extensions” — this crap all needs to go. At some point you need to stop adding scope and start focusing on performance, efficiency, reliability, and security5 at the scope you already have.

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More in Tux Machines

Septor 2020.5

Tor Browser is fully installed (10.0.2) System upgrade from Debian Buster repos as of October 21, 2020 Update Linux Kernel to 5.9.0-1 Update Thunderbird to 78.3.1-2 Update Tor to 0.4.4.5 Update Youtube-dl to 2020.09.20 Read more

Incremental backup with Butterfly Backup

This article explains how to make incremental or differential backups, with a catalog available to restore (or export) at the point you want, with Butterfly Backup. Read more

Regressions in GNU/Linux Evolution

  • When "progress" is backwards

    Lately I see many developments in the linux FOSS world that sell themselves as progress, but are actually hugely annoying and counter-productive. Counter-productive to a point where they actually cause major regressions, costs, and as in the case of GTK+3 ruin user experience and the possibility that we'll ever enjoy "The year of the Linux desktop". [...] We live in an era where in the FOSS world one constantly has to relearn things, switch to new, supposedly "better", but more bloated solutions, and is generally left with the impression that someone is pulling the rug from below one's feet. Many of the key changes in this area have been rammed through by a small set of decision makers, often closely related to Red Hat/Gnome/freedesktop.org. We're buying this "progress" at a high cost, and one can't avoid asking oneself whether there's more to the story than meets the eye. Never forget, Red Hat and Microsoft (TM) are partners and might even have the same shareholders.

  • When "progress" is backwards

Graphics: Vulkan, Intel and AMD

  • NVIDIA Ships Vulkan Driver Beta With Fragment Shading Rate Control - Phoronix

    This week's Vulkan 1.2.158 spec release brought the fragment shading rate extension to control the rate at which fragments are shaded on a per-draw, per-primitive, or per-region basis. This can be useful similar to OpenGL and Direct3D support for helping to allow different, less important areas of the screen be shaded less than areas requiring greater detail/focus. NVIDIA on Tuesday released the 455.26.02 Linux driver (and 457.00 version for Windows) that adds this fragment shading rate extension.

  • Intel Begins Adding Alder Lake Graphics Support To Their Linux Driver - Phoronix

    Intel has begun adding support for Alderlake-S to their open-source Linux kernel graphics driver. An initial set of 18 patches amounting to just around 300 lines of new kernel code was sent out today for beginning the hardware enablement work on Alderlake-S from the graphics side. Yes, it's only a few hundred lines of new driver code due to Alder Lake leveraging the existing Gen12/Tigerlake support. The Alder Lake driver patches similarly re-use some of the same workarounds and changes as set for the 14nm Rocket Lake processors with Gen12 graphics coming out in Q1.

  • AMD Linux Driver Preparing For A Navi "Blockchain" Graphics Card - Phoronix

    While all eyes are on the AMD Radeon RX 6000 "Big Navi" graphics cards set to be announced next week, it also looks like AMD is preparing for a Navi 1x "Blockchain" graphics card offering given the latest work in their open-source Linux driver. Patches posted today provide support for a new Navi graphics card referred to as the "navi10 blockchain SKU." The Navi 10 part has a device ID of 0x731E. From the AMDGPU Linux kernel driver perspective, the only difference from the existing Navi 10 GPU support is these patches disable the Display Core Next (DCN) and Video Core Next (VCN) support with this new SKU not having any display support.