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Google grinds closer to Chrome release for Mac

Google's browser now is good enough on Mac OS X to break while showing a Web page. Yes, that's progress. Also, Linux will get a native interface.

Google is coming a bit closer to releasing a working version of its Chrome browser for Mac.

Programmers for the company had been building an engine that could render Web pages, but it only ran within a simple framework called the test shell. Now they've begun hooking up the renderer to a full-fledged browser, which among other things can handle multiple tasks at the same time. That's key for a real application, especially one such as Chrome that isolates each browser tab into its own computing process.

The result of the work: a screenshot of Chrome running on Mac OS X posted to the Chromium developer mailing list. "Now we can call it Chrome!" crowed programmer Avi Drissman wrote.

Granted, it's a view of Chrome failing to properly show a Web page, but it's a step in the functional direction. Google has set a deadline of shipping Chrome for the Mac and Linux by end of June.

It may not look good, but this screenshot actually marks progress in getting Chrome to run on the Mac.
It may not look good, but this screenshot actually marks progress in getting Chrome to run on the Mac. (Click to enlarge.) Avi Drissman/Google

Moving Chrome from its initial incarnation as a Windows application to Mac OS X and Linux hasn't been easy. Ben Goodger, a Firefox programmer who now leads Chrome's interface work, griped about the difficult balance between preserving Chrome software across multiple operating systems while coping with the different abilities of each.

Google chose to split some of the Chrome interface into a Mac OS X-specific incarnation, despite the maintenance difficulties that imposes, but the choice isn't as easy when wrestling with Linux's interface, he said in a January message.

Goodger said that after some teeth-gnashing, Google eventually decided to create the Linux version of Chrome using the GTK package of graphical interface components used with the GNOME user interface.

"My initial thought was that a Windows-clone would be acceptable on Linux provided the performance of the app itself was outstanding, given the general reluctance of some of the team working on Linux towards UI (user interface). But they stood up and made their case for a GTK UI," Goodger said in a February 4 message, "and...that's what we've decided to do."