Google Chrome on the Mac: A Late Christmas Gift

Just within the past couple of days, the Google Chrome devs released the next build in their “dev channel” (translation: alpha release) for Mac OS X. It had been several weeks since their previous update, so I was curious to see what it held. Looking at their announcement, it didn’t seem all that earth-shaking but I was ecstatic to find after installing it that they finally have allowed users control over default font settings and font sizes. No more monstrously large ugly default fonts for me!

This was one of the two things that have kept me from using it on my Mac as my default browser to this point, which it has been on my other Linux and Windows boxes for several months (other than when I need some of Firebug’s wizardry in debugging Web stuff, although even those times are becoming less frequent with Chrome’s developer tools). The other gaping, glaring hole on the Mac OS X version of Chrome is the ability to manage and organize bookmarks — until that hole is plugged, it really can’t be my default (although I suppose I do some sort of bookmark-manage two-step by managing my bookmarks on a different platform and then using the bookmark sync feature now present on the Mac, but how painful would that be?)…

Gaping hole aside, my initial impression in using it for the past couple days is the same as it has been on the other two platforms: it is simply faster than the other browsers there on the same systems. The browser itself starts quickly, pages just seem to load faster in general, and the JavaScript-heavy Google pages that I use quite frequently (Gmail, Google Reader, Google Calendar, etc.) are more responsive.

My experience with their dev channel on all three platforms has generally been quite good. There have been a couple of their releases there that had big problems, but the catastrophic ones have been quickly fixed. This is the first version on the Mac that has been marginally usable for me for just day-to-day use, now that I can control fonts and sizing, and in summary, I continue to be impressed. Definitely worth at least a preliminary look for those of you on the Mac, and hopefully we won’t have to wait until Easter for that remaining hole to be plugged.

Edit (01/23/2010): As of this morning, their dev channel build 4.0.302.2 on the Mac now has a bookmark manager with at least basic functionality! Woo hoo!

Sun VirtualBox

IE8 in Windows 7 RC running as a guest OS under Sun VirtualBox on Mac OS X
IE8 in Windows 7 RC running as a guest OS under Sun VirtualBox on Mac OS X

I’ve been playing a little bit recently with some virtualization stuff in order to see if running Windows in a virtual machine on my Mac will work (the subject of why I might want to do that is fodder for a separate future post). I have to say that Sun’s VirtualBox has to be one of the coolest pieces of software I think I’ve come across. Ever.

As things stand right now, I’m running the Windows 7 RC in a VM on my old MacBook Pro (which is a little underpowered, particularly in the RAM department, for something like this). I just updated to the newly-released version 3.0.0 of VirtualBox and updated the installed “Guest Additions” software within the guest OS without a hitch. The documentation is quite good, the forums are active and frequented by helpful souls, and the level of functionality and polish in this product is exceptional for something free.