back to article When open source isn't enough: Fancy a de-Googled Chromium? How about some Microsoft-free VS Code?

Open-source Chromium web browser and Visual Studio Code editor not free enough for you? Some developers, wary of the big corporate sponsors behind these projects, have taken the code and removed any branding, tracking and links to services to create independent alternatives. Ungoogled-chromium is "Google Chromium, sans …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Pirate

    "Replace many web domains in the source code with non-existent alternatives ending in qjz9zk"

    I'm sure there's a new gTLD for that, or there soon will be.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    1. sw guy

      Re: "Replace many web domains in the source code with non-existent alternatives ending in qjz9zk"

      This!

      And is there any reason for not using localhost instead ?

      1. mmccul

        Re: "Replace many web domains in the source code with non-existent alternatives ending in qjz9zk"

        .invalid is a better choice since it is explicitly reserved as an invalid top level domain.

  2. Chewi

    Vivaldi?

    Anyone know where Vivaldi sits in all of this? I knew of Chromium but didn't realise it was still quite so chatty with Google.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
    2. The obvious

      Re: Vivaldi?

      Google “safe browsing“ is enabled by default in Vivaldi. I mentioned it in the forums but a lot of people seem to think that google respect their privacy...

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Vivaldi?

        They changed safe browsing on Vivaldi so it was proxied though Vivaldi's servers, meaning Google don't get your IP.

  3. GioCiampa

    Things we turned off

    #1 Safe Browsing...

    ...hmmmmmmmmm

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Things we turned off

      "safe" browsing sends the URL of everything you even think of browsing, to the mothership (Mozilla/Microsoft/Google) so it has a bigger benefit to them than you.

      I've gone through about:config and updated the Mozilla URLs in a similar fashion, by munging the end of the hostname.

      1. alain williams Silver badge

        Re: Things we turned off

        I've gone through about:config and updated the Mozilla URLs in a similar fashion, by munging the end of the hostname.

        and there is a lot of them, + google ones & others.

        A 99.9% of web users are, I suspect, unaware of these.Thus, surely, they are illegal under GDPR informed consent provisions. I would be very surprised if they did not record the requesting IP (ie user's home) address and various other things - many of which could identify the user, or at least start to.

        Another set of GDPR breaking exfiltration of user data are things like google analytics - surely a web site should ask permission first to ask consent which "must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous" - no web sites that I know of do so (including El Reg).

        However: I doubt that our chocolate box ICO will bother.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Things we turned off

          Mozilla uses google analytics on their very own support site as well as in its Firefox addons internal page, Ad blockers not allowed to block. Seems it can go beyond general webpages.

          https://github.com/mozilla/addons-frontend/issues/2785

          "we will not be removing analytics support entirely. It is extremely useful to us and we have already weighed the cost/benefit of using tracking."

          Eventually non-fixed with some flag, retaining it on the page.

    2. Graham Cobb Silver badge

      Re: Things we turned off

      If you want to browse safely, the three steps are:

      1: Install NoScript

      2: Turn off SafeBrowsing

      3: Engage brain and think twice three times before telling NoScript to allow javascript on any site

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Things we turned off

        3a. One must assume one does NOT have a brain, otherwise one would require a license to use the Internet.

        3b. Too often, that site you MUST see REQUIRES JavaScript to even load, and it probably has no viable alternative (think an official product support site or a government website), so you either plunge or go without...and probably not get your job done.

    3. BenDwire

      Re: Things we turned off

      In fact they listed it twice - did they "turn it off and back on again" ... (That sounds strangely familiar!)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What with "Private" Browsing being exposed as something of a sham, I've moved back to Firefox on desktop. It seems to be much better than when I abandoned it some years ago due to constant DNS problems.

    1. mark l 2 Silver badge

      I have been using FF as my main browser since it was in still in beta back in the early 2000s when most of the world were still on IE. I do have Chrome installed for a couple of site that refuse to play nice with Firefox that I need to access.

      If you are using Chrome or Edge then you know that Google and MS get to view everything you do online and at least you can switch this off easier in Firefox than you can in Chrome based browsers.

      We now just need to get rid of the lazy developers who only test sites on Chrome and assume that if it works there it works everywhere.

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        We now just need to get rid of the tightwad management who don't see the value in testing on browsers with single digit market share.

        FTFY!!!

        (But, if you can cover 95% of your install base with one browser the business case for testing on other browsers becomes pretty weak.....)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Even if the 5% you ignore is likely the 5% most likely to make you some real money?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      recently moved to penguins which came with FF and I am pleasantly surprised with the Fox Within !!

      aot a few yrs back

  5. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Evidence in the privacy case against Google?

    So can the various people suing Google for privacy issues use this as evidence of their pervasive snooping?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Evidence in the privacy case against Google?

      It's certainly a big list and even more reason to switch away from Chrome (and Chromedge which uses MS replacements).

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Evidence in the privacy case against Google?

      Depends on the jurisdiction and whether the data can be associated with a specific user. There are lots of reasons including performance, why for URL lookups at least, this probably isn't the case. But for anything that requires a Google ID then there privacy policy, which users will have agree to, probably applies.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VSCodium

    I read it like V-SCodium, since I am not involved in contemporary hard- or software, except for the occasional wooden instance. Heck, I am truly very happy to have my laptop walking Penguins as of just recently.

    So it made me think: V-Scrotum ?????

  7. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Another Vivaldi user here

    I hadn't realised just how much 'standard' Chromium was tied to Google, and actually started using Vivaldi before I knew it had a Chromium base. It's reassuring to know I made the right decision under the circumstance.

    I actually do a mix & match of browsers for different purposes, in the hope that nobody gets a complete picture.

    1. Captain Scarlet
      Coat

      Re: Another Vivaldi user here

      Its the main reason I never really bothered with Vivaldi or non Presto Opera.

      Now I know its not as tied in as I thought I may have a nibble at some point.

  8. karlkarl Silver badge

    Iridium (another Chromium based fork) is interesting in that it actually has hooks to detect hidden telemetry. You will see at the top in a red bar a message informing you that the developers may have missed a snoop request.

    My favorite however is OpenBSD's pledge()'ed chromium browser which has been "locked" down to only allow reading and writing into ~/Downloads.

    Sure, a bit frustrating at first but I do feel a little safer using it.

    1. Teiwaz

      That's a Good idea

      My favorite however is OpenBSD's pledge()'ed chromium browser which has been "locked" down to only allow reading and writing into ~/Downloads.

      Firefox mostly dumps in Downloads, but has an annoying tendency to ocassionaly dump in Documents or home dir which results in me having to hunt for the file.

    2. Joe Gurman

      Ten thumbs up....

      ....for Iridium. Don't know why the author didn't include it.

  9. Victor Ludorum

    Don't forget Iron

    I've been a long time user of Firefox with NoScript, and have recently got round to putting a pi-hole on my network. Scary how much some devices need to phone home!

    I've also used SRWare Iron (another de-Googled Chromium fork) on and off over the years, it's always seemed happy with Chrome extensions. I guess the advantage of an open source project is you can always fork it if it does something you don't like (or doesn't do something you would like)...

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Don't forget Iron

      Upvote for Pi-Hole. Excellent tool and every home network should have it.

      Although, I have found that it breaks the Lowes.com website, which refuses to work properly unless I switch my device to an upstream DNS provider. It shouldn't need to be said that I blame Lowe's, who apparently can't design a website without structural advert-serving and snooping.

      1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Don't forget Iron

        You can temporarily disable the Pi-Hole functionality through the admin interface or you can (temporarily) whitelist whichever irritating Lowes component is needed without switching DNS providers.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spellchecker

    I'd always been slightly suspicious that web browsers included a spell checker: after all, in the earlier days of the web, you didn't really type an awful lot into a browser, so why was it particularly needed?

    If it turns out that Google phones home to spell check your typing, that says it all! Not only do they see where their captive sheep go, but what they are writing, too...

  11. BigE

    It all started with that CPUID instruction....

    I guess we need privacy oriented operating systems now too? Has anyone seen how much shit this telemetry sends back? Usernames of logged on accounts CPUIDs, Graphics card, amount of physical RAM, what sort of things you have plugged in your USB slots and some commercial products, including Solidworks of whom it has been alleged even send back email accounts that your mail client is using.

    Such things that are alluded to when you click on the terms and conditions button (which might as well be I want you to fuck me over and fuck my privacy) should be outlawed.

    Prevention is better than the cure, so a sandboxed OS isn't paranoia these days, it's just plain common sense.

  12. SuperGeek

    It's the new "app for that"!

    "There's an extension extension for that!"

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