"profile will be deleted" at startup after chromium 89 update

Bug #1917705 reported by Christian Hujer
This bug affects 6 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
chromium-browser (Ubuntu)
Won't Fix

Bug Description

After updating the chromium-browser snap from 1497 to 1506, Chromium refuses to work with profiles that are linked to Google accounts. Each of them is deleted whenever first opening it. And turning on profile synchronization does not work.

See the attached file for a screenshot of the issue.

1. Kill the current chromium process.
2. Revert the snap back to an older version.
Warning 1: Running on an older version of Chromium comes at its own issues.
Warning 2: Any already deleted profile will not be restored by going back to an older version of Chromium. You will have to create and link the profile again.

This bug is severe and means that Chromium has become unusable in a professional environment.

"We also need:"

1) The release of Ubuntu you are using
$ lsb_release -a
No LSB modules are available.
Distributor ID: Ubuntu
Description: Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS
Release: 20.04
Codename: focal

2) The version of the package you are using
$ snap list chromium
Name Version Rev Tracking Publisher Notes
chromium 89.0.4389.72 1506 latest/stable canonical* -

3) What you expected to happen
Chromium works as usual, linked profiles work, new profiles can be linked to sync with Google accounts.

4) What happened instead
Chromium cannot work with linked profiles. Existing profiles from older versions of Chromium that are linked to sync with a Google account are deleted upon start, and the feature of linking a profile to a Google account for syncing is broken.

Revision history for this message
Christian Hujer (christian.hujer) wrote :
Revision history for this message
Chris Guiver (guiverc) wrote :

I fear this is the consequence of an announced google chrome/chromium change, and will not be changed (in fact the API is being removed in the not too distant future and this is just the start of the the changes announced with https://developers.google.com/web/updates/2020/12/chrome-88-deps-rems)

Note - this is opinion only.

Revision history for this message
Christian Hujer (christian.hujer) wrote :

@guiverc It may indeed be deprecations and removals, which sucks. I just think that 88 isn't the first version with the problem, it's 89.

* snap 1497 is chromium 88 and works fine.
* snap 1506 is chromium 89 has the issue.
* chrome 89 on Linux works fine.

I've just downloaded and installed Chromium build 659458 for Windows 10. That is Chromium 91. And it has the same issue.

Revision history for this message
Christian Hujer (christian.hujer) wrote :

BTW even if this is deprecation and removal, this is severely broken: It deletes a user's profile data without asking the user for consent to the deletion of the same. A hypothetical argument that stuff can be restored because the account is synchronized is invalid: recent local profile data that was not synchronized yet, for example from being offline, is also deleted in the process, without the user's consent. In some countries, this is actually rated a criminal offence by cybercrime laws.

Revision history for this message
Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

Status changed to 'Confirmed' because the bug affects multiple users.

Changed in chromium-browser (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
Revision history for this message
Chris Guiver (guiverc) wrote :
Revision history for this message
Efthimios Chaskaris (echaskaris) wrote :

May I suggest dropping 89 on the stable channel for snappy?

Olivier Tilloy (osomon)
summary: - profile will be deleted
+ "profile will be deleted" at startup after chromium 89 update
Revision history for this message
Olivier Tilloy (osomon) wrote :

This is an unfortunate consequence of a decision by Google to restrict access to the sync API to Chrome only (which explains why in comment #3 you're seeing that chrome 89 on linux works fine).

There's a lengthy discussion with details here: https://groups.google.com/a/chromium.org/g/chromium-packagers/c/SG6jnsP4pWM/m/Y73W4CecCQAJ.

I am quoting the part that's relevant for end users:

 « What does this mean for my users?

Users of products that are incorrectly using these APIs will notice that they won't be able to log into their Google Accounts in those products anymore.

For users who accessed Google features (like Chrome Sync) through a 3rd-party Chromium-based browser, their data will continue to be available in their Google Account, and data that they have stored locally will continue to be available locally.

As always, users can view and manage their data through Google Chrome, Chrome OS, and/or on the My Google Activity page, and they can also download their data from the Google Takeout page, and/or delete it from this page. »

I'm afraid (and sorry) there's nothing that can be done from a packaging perspective to mitigate this regression. Reverting the snap in the stable channel wouldn't help, because it's not a version problem. The official announcement states that starting March 15 attempts to log in will fail anyway.

I suppose that users that can't do without the profile sync feature will need to move on to using the official chrome package distributed by Google, instead of chromium (which is probably what Google wants, really).

Changed in chromium-browser (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → Won't Fix
Revision history for this message
Nonny Moose (moosenonny10) wrote :

> data that they have stored locally will continue to be available locally.

Doesn't forcing deletion of the profile violate this claim?

Revision history for this message
Olivier Tilloy (osomon) wrote :

I agree the statement is a bit ambiguous, but I *think* it's meant as "data that is stored locally only (and not synced) will continue to be available locally". I.e. if it wasn't synced, it won't be deleted.

Revision history for this message
Efthimios Chaskaris (echaskaris) wrote :

For personal accounts nothing is lost from what I can see so far, all data is transferred to a blank profile.

My god, though, this could surely have been handled better. Not even a banner inside chromium to let us know like what I think happened with Windows Xp.

Revision history for this message
Jim Farrand (jifarra) wrote :

If the profile is managed, it seems that local data is deleted - at least it becomes unusable, so it might as well be deleted. If that is avoidable, it would be good to do so. I can understand why you would want to delete the local data associated with a managed profile in some circumstances, but "Google deprecated an API" doesn't seem like one of them.

Another mitigation would be to provide a message that makes it clearer that the problem is with Chromium and not with the managed account. That would save a lot of wasted time between employees and their company tech support. (Though maybe it's too late for this to be useful - perhaps everyone who is going to hit this bug has done so already.)

Revision history for this message
Dani G (adesso.basta) wrote :

I am a happy user of the Ubuntu systems "account online" service .... happy, so far I think .. or maybe not now?!?
it makes me think that between now and March 15 we could all be left on foot ... but what is Google? Did she start strangling her babies one after another?

Revision history for this message
alpay (kardanadm) wrote :

I am using Chromium on an arm64 operating system.
I've been dealing with this problem for a few days.
Yesterday I restored a backup image from December, all my passwords and other information on Chromium have been restored. I was thinking that I lost all the information on my account, but with this OS restore everything got better.
After updating the system, my account in Chromium was deleted again.
I took note of the Chromium version running in December (87.0.4280.66).
I uninstalled Chromium new version, searched for 87.0.4280.66 .deb files, found and installed them.

Now everything is as before in version 87.0.4280.66. I tried this on my other OS variants as well. It works fine.

Revision history for this message
Olivier Tilloy (osomon) wrote :

As I stated in comment #8, reverting to an older version won't be working after the 15th of March, when Google will stop providing access to the sync API. And running an old version of a browser with known security vulnerabilities is never a good idea.

Revision history for this message
Efthimios Chaskaris (echaskaris) wrote :

@Olivier Tilloy Are there any plans to remedy this issue? Like releasing api keys to be used by distros?

Revision history for this message
Olivier Tilloy (osomon) wrote :

No. The status of the bug is "Won't Fix", meaning there's no plan to further invest effort in it.

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