Brave browser moves to Chromium codebase, now supports Chrome extensions

Brave replaces ambitious Muon interface and goes full Chromium. Gets 22 percent speed boost in the process.
Written by Catalin Cimpanu, Contributor

Privacy-focused browser Brave has finished the final phase of a two-stage process and has now migrated most of its userbase to a full Chromium codebase, the same one used by Chrome, Vivaldi, Opera, and soon, Edge.

The new codebase translates to a 22 percent speed boost, if we're to believe the Brave team's word, but also means that the Brave browser is compatible with native Chrome extensions.

After users update to Brave 0.57, they'll be able to head on to the Chrome Web Store and install any of the extensions they want.

Brave never went full-Chromium, until now

We realize that this article might confuse some of the ZDNet readership, who will point out that Brave was already running on top of the Chromium codebase --the open source browser on which Google Chrome, Vivaldi, Opera, and soon Edge, are all built.

This is only partially true. Since 2016, when the Brave browser was first announced, Brave used only Chromium's page rendering engine but deployed a custom component for the browser's user interface.

Also: Mozilla: Why Microsoft Edge's switch to Google's Chromium is bad news

This component was named Muon, which the Brave team described as "a more secure fork of Electron," and which used a custom HTML, CSS, and JavaScript user interface for the browser's UI.

However, developing your UI framework with a small team and limited funds is a time-consuming effort, and things didn't move as fast as they are needed.

Back in March 2018, the Brave team announced that they were giving up on Muon as a frontend framework, choosing to go with the standard bits provided by the Chromium project.

A first full Chromium version of Brave was released as an alpha and beta for developers in September and starting with October 18, with version 0.55, all new Brave browser downloads were of this new and improved version.

Version 0.57, released last Friday, completes the transition to a full Chromium codebase by replacing the Muon interface of existing Brave installations.

Must read

As stated above, the main benefits of using the standard Chromium frontend codebase means support for the standard WebExtensions API, the one used by all modern-day extensions, and the API that Muon never fully got.

No Google integration

Keeping true to its reputation as a privacy-first browser, developers confirmed that Brave won't be integrating any of the Google-based features that Chromium includes.

"Brave doesn't make any connections to Google in the background," said the Brave team last week. "We've disabled Google Accounts and Sync and removed all the Chrome-specific telemetry and reporting code. Google isn't used for search suggestions either."

Brave is known among privacy enthusiasts for being one of the first browsers to feature a built-in ad blocker, a "rewards program" that allows users to pay sites they read on a regular basis, built-in support for Tor connections when in private browsing mode, and many other more.

Best Google Chrome extensions for productivity, security, and performance (2018 edition)

Related stories:

Editorial standards