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18 November 2011 @ 08:28 am
Browsers: Endgame  
I mentioned a while back that i was trying out "Comodo Dragon", the browser put out by the Comodo security crew. It's based on Chromium, meaning that it's 95% Google Chrome, as browsers go. The draw that it had was that it boasted having more privacy than Chrome. After some time using it, I've gone back to Chrome. Info/discussion inside.

OK, so here's the differences between them:
- Dragon includes checks on the SSL certificates of secure websites, and informs users if a site's certificate may be of insufficient strength.
- Dragon includes an on-demand Comodo Site Inspector, designed to determine if a site hosts malicious code.
- Dragon also offers the opportunity, during installation, to configure the user's computer to access Comodo's own DNS servers instead of the user's ISP DNS servers.
- Instead of Google's Updater, Comodo features its own built-in Updater.
- If Dragon is uninstalled, users are given the option of keeping Dragon's cache and cookie files or deleting them.

In addition, the following Google Chrome features are removed or disabled in Dragon:

- RLZ identifier, an encoded string sent together with all queries to Google or once every 24 hours.
- Does not access Google search on startup for users with Google as default search
- A unique ID ("clientID") for identifying the user in logs.
- A timestamp of when the browser was installed.
- Google-hosted error pages when a server is not present
- Automatic address bar search suggestions.
- Bug tracking system, sending information about crashes or errors.
This all sounds good, and I can't actually argue with a lot of it. Problem is, I don't USE most of this.

- The SSL checks are nice, sure.
- The "site inspector" could be a damn useful tool, but I never used it. I am a lot more personally aware of sites I go to.
- Using their DNS might be great, but i didn't see a difference. Useful, though, that you can set just the browser to use it or the whole system.
- OK, you aren't reporting to Google. on the other hand, I don't care about that too much, though some people might.

Again, these aren't bad things, simply things that didn't apply to me or mean much to me. With that in mind, how did it's operation compare to Chrome? Well, again, it mostly is Chrome, so there shouldn't have been any changes. Not doing that startup report (and using their DNS) did make it fire up a bit faster (3 seconds to ready vs. 4) but not something significant. Browsing was also about the same, so the day-to-day usage was no different.

I did run into one major thing that ended up being the thing that made me switch. Dragon seems to have disabled/blocked some javascript actions (I'm not a programmer, i dunno exactly). I understand that this was probably part of their security measures, but it did make 2 things break that I use multiple times a day.
- One was an browser extension that checks my GMail account, and when something comes in, there's a small pop-up and a chime. In Dragon, that chime would not sound; this may be small, but I was much slower in seeing and responding to e-mails when I missed the pop-up and had no chime to alert me. At least one other browser extension did have issues and would not save settings in Dragon. No clue why.
- The other are a pair of small one-liner javascripts that I have listed as bookmarks. When I click them in Chrome (and every other browser), i get a small pop-up window into which i can type an LJ-name, and I am sent directly to either that user's journal or that user's info page. The are damn useful, and they simply did nothing in Dragon.

On top of that, there were a couple minor cosmetic things that I wasn't happy with. Those alone would not have made me change, but worth noting.

If I'm not taking advantage of what it's made for and a couple things I use a lot do not work, why should I feel the need to change? In the end, I don't. The browsers are functionally the same, so if you like the Chromium base and want increased privacy, Dragon is not a bad way to go. if those things aren't as useful to you or if the small foibles are annoying, then stick to Chrome.
 
 
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