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Google Chrome and Chromium look very similar and seem related.

How exactly do Google Chrome and Chromium relate to each other, and why are they separate products?

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It would be more correct to state that Chrome is a fork of Chromium.

Chromium is an open source web browser available under many different licenses. Many of them are permissive and allow to use it as part of a closed source application.

Google Chrome is a closed source web browser based on Chromium. However, Google is the driving force between both Chromium and Chrome.

By open-sourcing the core of their web browser, Google allows it to be used as part of pure open-source operating systems. This leads to a wider propagation of their Blink rendering engine which has various strategic advantages for the company. It also opens them up to contributions from the community which saves them development work.

But by having their actual flagship browser a closed source application based on it, they can put additional features into it which would not be allowed in a pure open source application, like inclusion of proprietary plugins (like Adobe Flash) or add features which would be frowned upon in an open source application (like those which submit usage data to Google).

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    This is a great answer, on a slightly related note: do some people consider this whole thing to be in bad taste? – overactor Jun 27 '15 at 16:25
  • Do you know if there is some special arrangement which allows Flash plugins for open source browsers? Firefox has a Flash plugin. – trichoplax Jun 27 '15 at 17:06
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    @trichoplax Open source applications which ship with closed source plugins is a wide topic which would warrant another question – Philipp Jun 27 '15 at 17:59
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    @overactor i consider the whole thing in bad taste. most advocates of free software would agree. its a facade to get the masses behind them...but Google is not open and they certainly are not the good people they claim to be – albert Jun 27 '15 at 22:26
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    @overactor "Bad taste" compared to what? Sure, having everything be FOSS would be great but I argue that having your core project FOSS-licensed is better than having the whole thing closed source! – Olek Wojnar Jun 28 '15 at 3:04

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