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Author Topic: *NIX: Watch Netflix with Linux (for beginners)  (Read 1809 times)


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*NIX: Watch Netflix with Linux (for beginners)
« on: December 02, 2013, 11:36:22 AM »
Note: Netflix is a paid subscription movie service. This set of instructions will allow a Netflix streaming account member to watch Netflix on a browser running under Linux. It will not allow you to watch Netflix hosted movies if you don't already have a user account.

There are a variety of ways to get Netflix to work with Linux. But Jeff Hoogland's recent post on his Thoughts on Technology blog is probably the easiest way to do it.

I pointed a friend to it recently. Unfortunately, my friend is a complete Linux neophyte - and the directions are for Bohdi Linux - and she had a little trouble extrapolating them to work with Linux Mint. So (for her) I put together a set of instructions based in Jeff's article which I thought might also be helpful to other new Linux users here at DoCo.

This is the more generalized set of directions I sent my pal for how to get around Netflix's arbitrary decision to exclude Linux as a qualifying platform for viewing their streaming service:

Step 1 - Check for (or install) a qualifying browser.

     There are only two: Chrome and Firefox. If you don't have one or the other, install one with your distro's package manager. Since I have a purely personal snit going with Google over Chrome (don't ask), the rest of these instructions will assume you're using Mozilla Firefox.

Step 2 - Install Pipelight.

     Netflix uses Microsoft's proprietary Silverlight technology to stream movies. Microsoft does not offer a version of Silverlight that runs on Linux. Fortunately, a duo called the FDS-Team have created a clever bit of software wizardry that gets around that limitation. It's called Pipelight. This is what it's about:

Pipelight: using Silverlight in Linux browsers
16 Aug 2013 21:23 CEST  written by FDS-Team

Today we want to present you our latest project Pipelight, which allows to run your favorite Silverlight application directly inside your Linux browser. The project combines the effort by Erich E. Hoover with a new browser plugin that embeds Silverlight directly in any Linux browser supporting the Netscape Plugin API. He worked on a set of Wine patches to get Playready DRM protected content working inside Wine and afterwards created an Ubuntu package called Netflix Desktop. This package allows one to use Silverlight inside a Windows version of Firefox, which works as a temporary solution but is not really user-friendly and moreover requires Wine to translate all API calls of the browser. To solve this problem we created Pipelight.

Pipelight consists out of two parts: A Linux library which is loaded into the browser and a Windows program started in Wine. The Windows program, called pluginloader.exe, simply simulates a browser and loads the Silverlight DLLs. When you open a page with a Silverlight application the library will send all commands from the browser through a pipe to the Windows process and act like a bridge between your browser and Silverlight. The used pipes do not have any big impact on the speed of the rendered video since all the video and audio data is not send through the pipe. Only the initialization parameters and (sometimes) the network traffic is send through them. As a user you will not notice anything from that "magic" and you can simply use Silverlight the same way as on Windows,...

     Installation isn't difficult - but the exact steps vary depending upon which Linux distro you're using. Fortunately (again!) the FDS-Team has a very complete and clear set of instructions for several Linux distros which can be found here. The majors are all supported.

     Since my friend's PC is running Linux Mint, the instructions for Ubuntu installation work just fine. These instructions will set up a Ubuntu ppa which will allow you to install Pipelight as if it were a part of the regular Linux Mint repositories.

     To do this, open a terminal window and enter (or just copy and paste) the following commands, one line at a time, followed by the enter key.

      sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ehoover/compholio
     sudo apt-add-repository ppa:mqchael/pipelight
     sudo apt-get update

Once the above two ppas have been installed, it's a simple matter to add Pipelight and the necessary components needed to watch Netflix.

First you need to install Pipelight and its dependencies. Enter or paste the following command in the terminal window and hit enter:

     sudo apt-get install pipelight-multi

This can take a while depending upon how many required bits of software are already installed on your PC. (On my friend's machine it took about 5 minutes using a fairly slow DSL connection.) Note: if the Microsoft TrueType core fonts aren't already installed on your machine, Pipelight will install them. But you'll be required to agree to a Microsoft license notice (don't worry, it's completely legal) before the installation takes place.

Once Pipelight has installed, you need to enable it to run Silverlight. To do that enter or paste the following command in the terminal window and hit enter:

     sudo pipelight-plugin --enable silverlight

That's it for the 'hard' part!

Step 3 - Install an agent switcher in your browser to make Netflix think it's talking to a Windows PC.

     Your browser is ratting you out every time it connects to something. It informs the site what OS and browser you're using along with several other things. Netflix refuses to run on Linux due to Linux not making the required obeisances to the dark gods of DRM. An agent switcher gets you around that by lying to the website, and reporting it's using the browser and running under the OS you tell it to.

     Pipelight works with some (but not all) agent switchers. So it's important to select a compatible one. There's more info about that on the Pipelight installation page. If you'd rather just get on with it and not worry about the details, a Firefox add-on called User Agent Override works perfectly. Install it under Firefox and you're set to go.

     Once it's installed, restart your browser and select Firefox 2x/Windows from the dropdown menu button like so:


And that's it! Web on over to Netflix, log in with your account credentials, and watch a movie.

« Last Edit: December 04, 2013, 06:06:28 PM by 40hz »