CodeWeavers offers 'Chrome' browsers for Mac, Linux

It combines Google's source code with Wine to make 'proof-of-concept' Frankenstein

Although Google has yet to come up with Mac or Linux editions of its new Chrome browser, CodeWeavers, a company best known for its CrossOver software, has assembled imitations for those operating systems using Google's own source code.

CodeWeavers, which sells software that lets Linux or Mac systems run some Windows applications -- notably, Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, Quicken and a few others -- crafted its CrossOver Chromium browsers using Google's source code and Wine, an open-source implementation of the Windows API for Unix-like operating systems, such as Mac OS X and Linux.

Google's open-source browser project is dubbed "Chromium," while its own version of that is simply called "Chrome"; CodeWeavers took from the former, not the latter, one reason why the resulting browser resembles, but is not identical to, Chrome. Google's browser is currently available only for Windows XP and Vista. Although the search firm has said it is working on native Mac and Linux editions, it has not set a timetable for their release.

CodeWeavers called its work a "technology proof-of-concept" and "fun," but not a legitimate browsing tool. In an FAQ posted to the company's site Monday, it made that clear. "Should I run CrossOver Chromium as my main browser?" the FAQ asked. The answer: "Absolutely not! This is just a proof of concept, for fun, and to showcase what Wine can do."

CEO Jeremy White echoed that. "We did this to prove a point," White said in a statement. "If you are a Windows software vendor, and you want to get your product into new markets, you should pay attention to Wine."

Wine has been in development for more than 15 years, but only reached a stable v1.0 release three months ago.

During Computerworld's brief time with the Mac version of CrossOver Chromium, the browser crashed several times and would not play Flash-based content.

CrossOver Chromium can be downloaded free of charge from the CodeWeavers site for Mac OS X 10.4 or later on Intel-based Macs, and several Linux distributions, including Debian, Red Hat and Ubuntu.

Google Chrome, which launched September 2, currently accounts for less than 1 percent of the browser market, according to the latest data from Net Applications.

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Gregg Keizer

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