June 1, 2024 Update: My /e/ OS-powered TeraCube 2e at some point switched from using Bromite as the base for its browser to Cromite. Cromite is a continuation of the apparently mothballed Bromite project run by one of the main contributors. As such, it appears that the default /e/ OS browser is now up to date and the immediate concerns I raised in this article are no longer applicable. With that being said, I stand by the concerns I raised at the time absent some explanation of a factor that I may have missed. Below, you can read the article as it was originally published on June 4, 2023.

Bromite is a free and open source hardened fork of Ungoogled Chromium for Android. I have recommended it in the past and wrote a short article on a prior harmless date issue in its repository. However, Bromite has fallen far behind upstream Chromium on updates in recent months. As of the publication of this Leaflet, Bromite, which saw its last release in December 2022, is on version 108.0.5359.156. Conversely, the current release version of Chromium in the Arch package repository is 114.0.5735.90-1, and the current release version of Brave, a popular open source browser based on Chromium, is 114.0.5735-90. Bromite’s falling behind on updates is a topic of discussion in its code repository on GitHub, albeit the maintainer is still making commits and has stated that the project is not abandoned.

(To be clear, the my purpose is not to criticize Bromite, which is a terrific open source browser project with a single primary maintainer. I very much hope that it continues to be maintained and supported, and I would consider using it in the future if it catches up. Bromite is a much smaller project than Brave, which has corporate backing and a large team.)

I previously reviewed /e/ OS, an open source fork of LineageOS, which in turn is a fork of the Android Open Source Project. While I am currently using a Pixel 3a XL with LineageOS instead of the Teracube 2e running /e/ OS, which I discussed in 2021, I still have my Teracube 2e and use it as a Syncthing node. /e/ OS’s browser is built from Bromite. I was curious whether its browser was ahead of Bromite in updates. I checked on my Teracube 2e, which recently received a system update in May (see post on /e/ OS updates on my particular Murena Teracube 2e model). I found that /e/ OS’s browser (see code repository) was stuck on the same version as Bromite. In light of the fact that Murena Teracube 2e’s are marketed as a user-friendly de-Googled Android experience, I hope that the browser is brought up to date quickly since some less technical users may not be aware of the version issue.

I had begun using Mull, which is based on Firefox, as my default browser slightly before I stopped using Bromite due to update issues (I like some of Mull’s extra customization capabilities). I am currently using Brave as a secondary Chromium-based browser for a few things that Chromium-based browsers do better on Android-derivatives than Mull. I also have Firefox Focus for quickly opening articles from my feed reader. If you are looking for an alternative to Bromite or /e/ OS’s Browser while the update issue persists, I recommend having a look at the three I use. For those of you looking specifically for a Chromium-based alternative, I would recommend Mulch for people who have a general aversion to Brave. Neither Brave nor Mulch are available by default in F-Droid, but Mulch’s (and Mull’s) repository can be added and for those of you who do not want to track GitHub releases of Brave or use Google Play Store, you can use the free and open source FF Updater app to stay up to date with Brave releases. For those of you who are not entirely committed to open source browsers, Vivaldi, which I used in the past, is a solid option which is also available through FF Updater. (I recommend Firefox Focus as a secondary browser rather than a primary browser, but it can be kept up to date with FF Updater or by tracking releases on GitHub for those of you who do not rely on Google Play Services.)

DivestOS, which is behind Mull and Mulch, maintains a useful browser comparison guide.