@ton Well stated. I've always just called it spyware, but "advertisement delivery software" brings it home to everybody who hates too many ads.
@jeannie @AlanRalph I've had the same worry: how long will Vivaldi, Opera and Brave be able to use the Chromium rendering engine if Google bans the extensions people want/need for privacy? I'm not a programmer so I don't know how much is controled by the rendering engine on this.
@bradenslen @jeannie @AlanRalph @ton I don’t know the internal power/politics/governance model of Chromium, but having been a part of a couple of “build a similar/competitive thing on the same codebase that’s sponsored by BigCo” OSS projects, it’s almost always “the management of the company who employs most of the developers makes the decisions” when there is a dominant company and/or a company that originally developed the software/sponsored the OSS project. This can even be true in an OSS project with real governance, just because of pure numbers (a company employing more people to work on a project is going to end up with more people in leadership roles because there are more of them to choose from)….
It was Mozilla Corp calling the shots over what went into Gecko (and of course the Firefox UI/UX). It was Sun (and then Oracle) dictating the design, features, and direction of OpenOffice.org—so much so that the Linux distros, who employed the greatest number of non-Sun developers, created their own fork, LibreOffice (with a slightly better name ;-) and a non-profit and true community governance to steer it) and left IBM to pick up the scraps of OOo as Apache OpenOffice. And, in fact, that Apple was driving the direction of WebKit was what brought us Chromium in the first place; Google wanted to architect things differently and focus on different areas, so they forked (they already maintained an internal fork because of the V8 JS engine and some other stuff, so this relieved some of that maintenance burden and let Opera join in).
So—and again, I don’t know how governance, and, really, power, works in Chromium, nor at what code level these changes will be made, though it certainly seems like they’d be to the shared underlying code—it doesn’t seem likely to me that the other contributor-companies to Chromium will be able to sway this decision on Google’s part, at least not without some sort of significant external pressure.
Alternatively, they could possibly patch that feature back in (if the changes are small and non-invasive—which they might be, since Google still plans to let enterprise-Chrome use them) in their own builds, and maintain that forever. Or they could all band together (especially if they get Microsoft) and fork Chromium themselves—but unless they can commit significant resources, a fork of a fork is not promising, and the reason the smaller browser developers chose Chromium in the first place was in part to have a (modern, fast, etc) browser engine without having to dedicate the resources to building and maintaining it all themselves.
Sorry for the length (and especially the gloomy outlook) but thought you might find my perspective/“expertise” of interest…
@smokey Your expertise is interesting. I've heard that Google calls the shots for Chromium from other sources as well. All this makes me continue to wonder how long other browsers can continue to use Chromium and how hard it would be for them to jump ship and convert to FF's engine or Webkit?
Aside: Microsoft has been reaching out to Linux dev's for help porting MS Edge over to Linux. I find that interesting and confusing since as a Linux user, Edge would be one of the last browsers I'd choose. Odd strategy.
Don't worry about length. Your post was interesting and enlightening. I always wondered how and why LibreOffice came about.
@bradenslen I think that WebKit would be superficially similar (since Chromium forked from it), but a lot, if not all, of the “application layer” stuff (as opposed to the “web rendering and lower layers”) won’t be the same, since that’s the most visible place that Chrome differentiated itself. I also don’t know what the WebKit cross-platform situation is these days (there used to be people who built apps with it on Linux and Windows, but I haven’t kept up), so…. Firefox would be an entirely different thing (although I think they share some of the extension APIs with Chrome, but the big stuff of how you build a browser on top of the platform will be completely different). There are no good options for the other Chromium-based browsers.
As for Microsoft, they apparently love Linux now ;-) But it does seem like an odd choice.
The birth of LibreOffice (and the subsequent rotting of the original project) was very interesting to watch; that’s got to be one of history’s better forks.
@smokey WebKit does not seem to be extensively used cross platform anymore. The only active project that comes readily to mind is Gnome Web browser (aka Epiphany) on Linux. I know Gnome Web is being adapted for small screen use for the new Puri.sm Libre 5 Linux smartphone as default, so maybe other Linux smartphone makers will pick it up as well.