Finally, Netflix on Ubuntu

In my house we watch a lot of instant Netflix. So, as you can imagine, it was pretty sad finding out it wouldn’t work when I changed my laptop to Ubuntu Linux. The Netflix technical blog has talked about their eventual switch to all HTML5 video. Hopefully they won’t continue blocking Linux users after they finalize the change, as the new encoding should be platform independent.

Last time I checked, the only workaround I could find was Netflix-desktop. It runs Wine with a windowless Firefox browser inside. Many of the reviews said it was stable but with choppy playback, especially for older machines. My Acer laptop certainly wouldn’t handle that (and my tower is dual-boot so not worth it).

Enter Pipelight! This great program allows you to install Silverlight onto your Linux browser. Included are a few other normally unavailable plugins like Flash and Shockwave.  Installing Pipelight does not activate any plugins on its own. You manually decide what to activate and whether it’s system-wide or current user only. So, we add two repositories, and install the software. Make sure to quit any web browser before installing.

Now you activate Silverlight. This will be for your current user only, so just add  sudo to apply Silverlight to all users.

Now open your browser of choice and Silverlight will begin installing. There’s one more step left. Netflix will still see you as a Linux user and redirect you away from watching videos. This is where a browser plugin comes in. There are two options for Firefox and one for Chrome. I’m a fan of Chrome and went with User Agent Switcher. If you’re using Firefox, you’ll need to go with UAControl or User Agent Overrider. Whichever browser you’re on, the advice I’ve seen says to select the newest version of Firefox available in the browser plugin.

The plugin for Chrome, User Agent Switcher, had some reviews about it not deactivating properly for certain sites. Because of this, I created a new Chrome user to install it in (which can be done in Settings). Separate users have a different set of extensions, allowing your Netflix viewing to have no impact on your normal browsing.

Now you’ll be having smooth playback without a full Wine instance. Pipelight does use parts of the Wine code base, but it’s not resource heavy as far as I’ve seen. Netflix played beautifully with this setup on my four-year old Acer laptop. If you can’t live without instant streaming on your Ubuntu machine (or other Linux distro) then this seems to be the best option.

If you give it a go, let me know if you have any questions or run into any problems!

Source: WEB UPD8 Pipelight: Silverlight In Your Linux Browser | Ask Ubuntu Netflix Streaming Question

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