Google has a firm grip with their products and services ubiquitous on the desktop. Don’t get us wrong, we’re long-standing admirers of many of Google’s products and services. They are often high quality, easy to use, and ‘free’, but there can be downsides of over-reliance on a specific company. For example, there are questions about their privacy policies, business practices, and an almost insatiable desire to control all of our data, all of the time.
What if you are looking to move away from Google and embark on a new world of online freedom, where you are not constantly tracked, monetized and attached to Google’s ecosystem.
In this series we explore how you can migrate from Google without missing out on anything. We recommend open source solutions.
Google Chrome is the most popular web browser. It provides an easy to use and clean interface, solid connectivity across devices and a huge library of extensions. However, it’s resource-hungry, has a chequered track record when it comes to privacy, and it’s released under a proprietary license.
Of course, Google sponsor Chromium, a free and open source software project. While Chromium is a solid browser there’s still significant privacy concerns. And if you’re in the market for an alternative to Google Chrome it makes little sense to recommend any of the myriad of browsers based on Chromium.
Fortunately, there are tons of open source web browsers available for Linux that aren’t based on Chromium.
While there’s lots to like about many of them, we recommend that you install Tor Browser. This web browser lets you avoid surveillance, tracking, and censorship.
Tor Browser really does offer an extremely private browsing experience preventing websites from “fingerprinting” you. The software doesn’t keep any browsing history, and cookies are only valid for a single session. There’s multi-layer encryption to boot.
None of this would mean anything if the web browser itself didn’t offer all the essential features. It does!
If you want a more mainstream alternative, we’re strong admirers of Firefox, software developed by the Mozilla Foundation.
Firefox offers a good set of functionality including essentials like tabbed browsing, spell checking, incremental search, live bookmarking, Smart Bookmarks, private browsing, and an integrated search system. Private Browsing deletes cookie data when you close the browser window and doesn’t track your browsing data.
As an open source project, transparency and openness are an essential part of their founding principles.
Firefox is at the core of most privacy-focused browsers.
Pale Moon is originally a fork of Firefox with substantial divergence particularly in its user interface, add-on support, and always runs in single-process mode.
Pale Moon is based on a different layout engine to Gecko-based browsers like Firefox. It uses Goanna, an optimized layout and rendering browser engine.
This privacy-aware web browser offers additional security features.
And it offers its own add-on ecosystem built on time-tested technologies such as XUL (plus JS and CSS) and XPCOM.
We also recommend Waterfox. One of its central planks is its ethical nature. It’s based on Firefox and uses Firefox’s browser engine.
Waterfox does not collect any telemetry, meaning you do not have to worry about any tracking or usage information about what you do inside your browser.
The only thing that Waterfox sends back is your OS and browser version to check for updates to various components.
The browser is focused on power users, which lets you make the important decisions. System1, an advertising company, acquired Waterfox in 2019.
All articles in this series:
|Alternatives to Google's Products and Services|
|Analytics is a platform for both website and mobile app analytics. This hosted web analytics software remains the mostly widely used analytics service.|
|Calendar helps manage your busy life with a digital calendar. It offers tons of features and makes it easy to keep track of life’s important events all in one place.|
|Chat is communication software which provides direct messages and team chat rooms, together with a group messaging function.|
|Chrome is application software for accessing the World Wide Web. It's the most popular web browser but has a chequered track record from a privacy perspective.|
|Classroom is a learning platform for educational institutions that aims to simplify creating, distributing, and grading assignments. The main aim of the platform is to streamline the process of sharing files between teachers and students.|
|DNS resolves a particular domain name to its IP equivalent. There are many free DNS providers. A few stand out from the crowd.|
|Docs is a web-based productivity office suite. The suite includes Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Drawings, Google Forms, Google Sites, and Google Keep.|
|Drawings is diagramming software included as part of the web-based Google Docs Editors suite. Create and edit flowcharts, organizational charts, website wireframes, mind maps, concept maps, and more.|
|Drive is a file storage and synchronization service. Want a solution that also includes the online office components available in Google Docs?|
|Earth Pro maps Earth by superimposing satellite images, aerial photography, and GIS. Fly anywhere to see satellite imagery, 3D buildings, 3D trees, terrain, Street View, planets and much more.|
|Firebase is a platform for creating mobile and web applications. It's currently their flagship offering for app development providing an all-in-one cloud service.|
|Forms is a survey administration software included as part of the free, web-based Google Docs Editors suite.|
|Gboard is a virtual keyboard app developed for Android and iOS devices. It features Google Search and predictive answers.|
|Gmail is a hugely popular email service. You might not like the automated scanning of email content.|
|Keep is a note-taking service. The app offers a variety of tools for taking notes, including text, lists, images, and audio.|
|Maps is a web mapping service offering satellite imagery, aerial photography, street maps, and interactive panoramic views.|
|Meet is a video-communication service. It offers enterprise-grade video conferencing built on Google’s global infrastructure.|
|Photos stores your images in the cloud for convenient access from anywhere. Lots of useful tools, but it’s difficult to shake the sinking feeling that Google is analysing your pictures.|
|Search looks at privacy-focused alternatives to Google Search. If you believe that Google invades your privacy, what alternatives do we recommend?|
|Translate is a multilingual neural machine translation service that translates text and websites from one language into another.|
|YouTube is an online video sharing and social media platform. It's a hugely popular service but has encountered a number of privacy issues.|