Google appears to be denying Linux users access to many of its popular services based on their choice of web browser.
Scores of Reddit users reporting issues when attempting to load Google services like Gmail, Maps and Google Docs in Falkon, Konquerer and other niche Linux web browsers.
The error message greeting scores of users over the past few weeks couldn’t be any clearer: –
“Couldn’t sign you in. This browser or app may not be secure. Try using a different browser. If you’re already using a supported browser, you can refresh your screen and try again to sign in.”
When users try to access the same site(s) in a major web browser, like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, there is no error warning presented and the site loads without issue.
While it’s good that Google offers a solution — ‘use a different browser’ — it’s not entirely clear why it’s blocking access to some of its sites from niche Linux browsers in the first place.
Many of the browsers barred access are up to date and still under active development. Technologically speaking, there’s no real reason why these browsers shouldn’t be able to load Google services.
Indeed, simply changing the browser user agent in an ‘excluded’ browser to that of a supported one, like Firefox, instantly lifts the bar and lets the app/service/site to load.
Where, surprise, surprise, it works fine without any major issues.
Do You See This Error?
So, for now at least, this issue does not appear to be widespread. I certainly couldn’t replicate the error in the lesser-known Linux browsers I tried, including Epiphany.
Google is known for A/B testing changes to its various web services all the time, so this specific hiccup could resolve itself in time.
Or it could be a sign of things to come. Could Google restrict access to select browsers, i.e., its own, only?
Not that being a Chromium based browser would guarantee access, mind.
The team behind the Vivaldi web browser recently spoke of the hurdles they have to pass in order to get some services to load. Similarly, the “new” version of Microsoft Edge faces similar issues too despite also being based on Google-developed Chromium open source project.