Firefox was automatically updated to version 14 a few days ago through update manager, but Chromium web browser is still stuck in version 18 while Google Chrome is already in version 20. Why does this happen and how can I update my Chromium to a more recent version?


In a Linux distribution, software doesn't usually use its own internal "automatic update" mechanism. Instead, it relies on the distribution to update it.

This is the case for both Firefox and Chromium supplied with Ubuntu.

The interesting thing here is that Firefox and Chromium have a different level of support from Canonical, and also that Firefox on Ubuntu has a somewhat unusual release strategy.

Firefox is included in Ubuntu's main repository, whereas Chromium is in the universe repository. This means that Ubuntu's version of Firefox receives the best level of support directly from Canonical, whereas Chromium's support relies on the Ubuntu community. Most packages in universe rely heavily on the work of Debian developers, and Debian has different priorities. So, based on this you would expect Firefox to include more Ubuntu-specific customisation, and to be better supported with updates.

The thing is, almost all software in a stable-release distribution (like Ubuntu, and most other distributions other that the "rolling release" ones) should not receive updates to new versions of software during the life cycle of that version of the distribution. At best, it should receive only minor updates or security patches. Firefox on Ubuntu is somewhat unusual here, because Ubuntu are providing full major new upstream versions of Firefox to their stable distributions.

The justification for this will be Firefox's rapid release strategy, which ensures that "major" releases are actually somewhat less disruptive than most software's major releases, but also makes it quite hard to backport security patches to older versions. So Canonical has obviously decided just to give Ubuntu the new upstream version than patch the old version.

For Chromium, it's not completely like this, but looks can be deceiving. Chromium on Ubuntu sometimes does get new upstream releases (which is why even Lucid is on a v18.x), and other times the Ubuntu community patch the existing version with fixes and security updates, but don't increment its version number. However, this means that despite the version number of Chromium in Ubuntu, it still includes some of the fixes that newer versions of Chromium have.

  • 3
    @vasa1 this page has more information about the difference between 'main' and 'universe' in terms of who supports it and how much support it gets (including the fact that it's up to the "community" to provide fixes and security updates for packages in universe). Also this page shows that there have been security patches for chromium-browser in the form of updated versions. Jul 23 '12 at 5:05
  • Thank you for providing all this useful information that made it very clear to me. It is good to know that even though Chromium is not part of the main repository, at least the security fixes are still covered by the community, because I was considering the current version of Chromium outdated and possibly unsafe and I was avoiding using it.
    – Neptunno
    Jul 23 '12 at 13:29
  • Re. security fixes ... we have a thread over at Ubuntu Forums. Would you mind looking at my post there?
    – user25656
    Jul 24 '12 at 3:20

No the project isn't dead. The Ubuntu Chromium Team just doesn't have enough people working on it, that's why the Ubuntu packages are out of date. Benjamin Kerensa is currently reaching out to new developers to support the team here. So the situation will hopefully improve soon.

  • The linked blog article explains everything. Thanks!
    – kayahr
    Jul 4 '12 at 11:23
  • That blog points to micahg and micahg's latest comment in askubuntu.com is here. To that extent, this question is a duplicate.
    – user25656
    Jul 4 '12 at 11:37
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    Benjamin Kerensa does not work for Canonical. He is an active member in the Ubuntu community that was willing to help me evangelize the need for help with a blog post.
    – micahg
    Jul 4 '12 at 17:15

Ubuntu's version of Chromium is maintained by the Ubuntu developers. So after the Chromium developers update, Ubuntu developers then take a look at it to see how it works with Ubuntu and makes any necessary modifications. This is the only advantage to using Chromium over Chrome. To use Chrome on Ubuntu, you have to download the version from Google and trust that they made it work properly with Ubuntu.

If you'd rather get the latest version, without regard for whether it's been approved by Ubuntu developers, then you should just use Chrome.

  • 1
    I didn't know that Ubuntu staff checks the Chromium release, it makes sense now, anyway it seems to be taking a little too long, but I prefer to wait though, running away from Google everytime I can and Firefox is my default, just sometimes it is useful to have a secondary browser.
    – Neptunno
    Jul 23 '12 at 3:44
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    Well, it's not the only advantage of Chromium over Chrome. Chromium is available without adding any unofficial software sources, it's supported for the life of the release, and it's FOSS. Jul 23 '12 at 4:19
  • @EliahKagan Indeed!
    – Neptunno
    Jul 23 '12 at 13:30

The Chromium project lives here, with builds for Windows, Linux, iOS, Android etc.

From the releases page, latest appears to be version 22. Not sure why launchpad.net doesn't have it.

  • I changed the question. I mean the Ubuntu Chromium Project, not the upstream Chromium Project from Google.
    – kayahr
    Jul 4 '12 at 11:21

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