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Aura Re-Enabled in Latest Chrome Linux Dev Release


Aura has been re-enabled by default on the latest Google Chrome development release for Linux. 

The hardware-accelerated graphical stack was briefly enabled in Linux dev builds in the latter half of last year. Performance concerns forced Chromium’s development team to “turn it off” in a subsequent update.

But, now, in this week’s release of Chrome Dev 34.0.1809.0 it’s back for round two.

Ding, Ding – Round 2

If you’re unfamiliar with Aura you can find a concise explanation in our previous article. But to be honest all you really need to know is that it’s the name of the technology now used to ‘draw’ most of what you see of Chrome on screen.

Since its last outing on Linux a number of minor visual tweaks have taken place. For example, font detection now works and the excessive padding on menus and dialogs has been reigned in.

While things are noticeably different to the old GTK-based version, it is not to the point of annoyance. In fact, the only real disappointment is that the option to make Chrome “use System Title Bar and Borders” is, as of 34.0.1809.0 dev, still not available. A flag offering the same effect is available, though the result doesn’t look quite as seamless as you’d hope!  

On the subject of window borders, the framing of Chrome Apps currently defaults to a flat, blue Windows XP-style border. It’s currently unclear whether this will be addressed or maintained.

Notification Centre

A bunch of additional features also come as part and parcel of the Aura experience, including Rich Notification support and the Chrome Notification Centre. The former enables better looking interactive alerts – e.g., mark an e-mail as read without opening Gmail – while the latter gives these update bubbles somewhere to wait while waiting for you to action or dismiss them.

On Linux the Notification Centre doesn’t behave in entirely the same way as it does on Mac, Windows and Chrome OS because of intentional constraints on the types of indicators that can appear in the system tray.

Instead, opening the centre in most desktop environments on Linux is a two-click process: first click the bell, then the ‘Notifications’ option listed in the menu.

That and the lack of support for Google Now cards are the only real differences. All other options, e.g., muting alerts, dismissing all, and configuring notification sources, are all present and working.

Flags Ahoy!

In addition to the above you can also try out other features currently under development.

Chrome’s “App Launcher” can be enabled via chrome://flags/#enable-app-list.


The super-new (and super unstable!) user management feature can be turned on via chrome://flags/#enable-new-profile-management.

Getting Google Chrome Dev on Linux

Now for the cautionary bit. While Google Chrome Dev offers a veritable playground of fun new features to lark about with it is unstable. It will crash, it will glitch, and it will add features long before they’re finished.

With that in mind, if you still want to hop aboard the dev train, you can grab installs for Ubuntu, OpenSUSE and Fedora from the Chromium website linked below.

Download Google Chrome Dev for Linux

H/t Dominikos Pritis 
  • Jonathan Almeida

    Chrome’s app launcher looks like a nice feature. Unity should have some APIs to allow for some easy customization for things like this. I feel Chrome might have been implemented in a very “hacky” way.

  • ZaCh Gil

    Para Ubuntu 13.10??

  • kamel mory

    how can i get the notifications icon in the system tray (ubuntu13.10)?

  • Finally

  • XuetianWeng

    still waiting for hidpi support …. firefox is the only usable browser on my screen.

  • Can you install both Chrome Stable and Chrome Dev on same machine?

    • No. On Windows, Mac and Chrome OS you can install Canary, a ‘dev’ build more bleeding edge than Dev, alongside Stable, but it’s not available for Linux.

  • Flavio Brandão

    What is this search icon on the right side of notifications?

    • XaahuYaxeed

      Synapse Indicator.

  • Iago Bruno

    In ubuntu how I install the App launcher?

    • Visit the URL in the post, turn it on, restart Chrome, drag the ‘App Launcher’ from the Dash to the Unity Launcher.

      • Iago Bruno

        I found. Where I find enable the notification icon on ubuntu 13.10?

        • It’s enabled by default. You won’t see it until you have notifications waiting to be read.

          • Iago Bruno

            The tray icon, with the bell symbol? How I enable it in ubuntu 13.10? The whitelist is not available.

          • It’s enabled by default. You won’t see it [the bell icon] until you have notifications waiting to be read.

          • Iago Bruno

            Thanks Joey, I found another way to show all the time “the bell icon” and others tray icons, using libappindicator1. Nice post dude.

  • Ahmed Khaled

    Is it compatible with Chromium?

  • madjr

    the only problem I have with chrome / unity is when you Maximize a youtube video, be it HTML5 or flash, unity simply disappears…..

    not sure if this is chrome issue with this aura stuff (since it doesn’t happen with firefox) or unity’s fault.

  • Haashir Mohammed

    The Chrome’s camera app doesn’t work on non Chrome OS devices. Does anybody else have this problem too? or is there a solution for it??

  • Is Aura disabled in 34.0.1825.4 dev? It isn’t enabled for me…

    • Aditya Goturu

      same here

  • Michael Heaton

    Annnnnd disabled again! *sighs*

  • Indeed disabled again, i likes the UI i even noticed Chrome being lighter with Aura UI

    • yeah. And the old notifications suck.

  • Mike

    And…. It’s back.

  • Jean-Francis Bastien

    Also the touch scrolling works and also the preced/next left/righ.

  • John McMine

    I read some comments, it looks that ChromeOS is still un stable, to many bugs