Want to move from Windows or OS X to Ubuntu or another GNU/Linux operating system? You’ll lose Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop and some other apps that aren’t available for Linux, but you’ll be able to use open source alternatives such as LibreOffice and GIMP.

But up until now there’s been one thing that’s been tricky to do on Linux: stream movies and TV shows from Netflix.

While developers have found several workarounds in the past few years to let you use Netflix on a Linux computer, Netflix hasn’t officially supported the platform. That could change very soon.

netflix in chrome

Netflix developer Paul Adolph sent a message to the Ubuntu developer mailing list explaining that Netflix would work in the Google Chrome web browser as long as NSS 3.16.2 or later is installed. NSS is set of security libraries that, among other things, would allow Netflix to stream in a browser while making it difficult for users to download and save videos.

The next version of Ubuntu which is set to launch in October already features a newer version of NSS, and according to an Ubuntu developer, the next security update for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS could also include NSS 3.17.

Once that happens, it looks like Netflix will consider removing user-agent restrictions that currently prevent users from streaming its videos on  computers running Ubuntu.

In other words, it could be just a matter of weeks or months before there’s native support for Netflix on computers running Ubuntu. Theoretically this could also pave the way for Netflix to work on systems running other Linux-based operating systems.

For a long time the reason Netflix wouldn’t work on Linux was because it relied on Microsoft’s Silverlight technology for video streaming, and Silverlight doesn’t work with Linux. But Netflix now uses HTML5 for streaming on some operating systems… as long as there are security features in place to prevent piracy.

via OMG Ubuntu

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12 replies on “Native support for Netflix coming to Ubuntu”

  1. I installed Pipelight into Ububntu…and have been watching Netflix since. You have to use the user-agent switcher…tell it that you are using Apple Safari.
    So far no problems at all.

  2. Nearly everyone likes some movies/TV no matter what platform they run.
    Netflix likes to make money, so they make stuff like this possible.
    Good on’Em.

  3. The fight to prevent piracy has already been lost. I see entire seasons of new shows posted online the day after they get released on netflix. I dont know the quality of the rips but they can and always will be able to circumvent the ‘security’. This BS about is only hurting the customers.(us on linux atm). Downloaders will not be giving you money either way so you are spending alot of effort for very diminishing return.

  4. Sweet. Now we just need Amazon Instant Video to hop on board. Also, that was an excellent episode of DW.

    1. If it runs flash then you can already play Amazon Instant Video on any platform browser… It’s just the app version that took awhile, and there are some limitations on outputting full HD unless the device is something Amazon can recognize and certify…

      1. A normally working install of Flash by itself is not enough, because some of Flash’s DRM capabilities are disabled unless you also install libhal — which most modern distros have moved away from. Flash doesn’t provide any warning or error message to indicate these features are disabled, so you can have what appears to be a perfectly valid install of Flash, but AIV doesn’t work — it gives you the Loading and Connecting animations, then just goes black. As a bonus, it increments the number of devices streaming from your Amazon account, even though you’re not able to see anything. Great fun. So no, it is not strictly true that “If it runs flash then you can already play Amazon Instant Video on any platform browser”.

          1. I’m clearly aware there is a “fix” since I mentioned libhal.

            A “normally working install of Flash” on Windows would not have the DRM crippled straight out of the box after a fresh installation. It is, however, crippled out of the box on most modern Linux distros, ***with no warning of unmet dependencies***. This is in no way equivalent to deleting key dlls from your Windows system or trashing the registry *after* installing the software. Come on.

            Adobe could easily add the libhal dependency specs to their package; they choose not to. Instead, they mention the libhal requirement as a footnote, not on the main Linux System Requirements page, but on a “View more system requirements” page that is linked from the bottom of the Linux System Requirements page. Classy, and very user-friendly, just as their software is famed to be.

            Amazon, for their part, does not warn the user that DRM has been disabled when attempting to play their content, does not include Linux in their list of supported platforms for browser streaming: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201422810 , and does not mention that an obsolete library — libhal — must be installed to uncripple DRM and get their service to work. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that AIV is unsupported on Linux and doesn’t work unless you install a third-party hack. In most other situations, this would be referred to as “the service doesn’t work on Linux.”

            Hence my desire to see them get on board and actually *support* their service on Linux. Properly. With stuff that, you know, works like it’s supposed to.

          2. Sorry, but you should know full well that Linux isn’t limited to just GNU/Linux distros and all these limitations are not because of Amazon but because the distro developers don’t support legacy and cared about other things besides what services their users may or may not be able to access anymore… After all, all the previous older distros worked with AIV just fine!

            Such issues has always been part of the reality of using GNU/Linux distros and why users often had to help each other with such issues…

            Really, at best it’s a issue for Adobe because they’re the ones who support Flash… Not Amazon, who just uses it to provide a service…

            The only reason why Windows users generally don’t run into this is because Windows maintains legacy support for even things not often used…

            While, for where Amazon actually has a say, like apps… They already provided apps for Android and iOS…

            Now, besides accepting the simple fact that as long as Amazon uses Flash that GNU/Linux users will have to provide some of their own support because the developers aren’t bothering to and Adobe has never provided great support for Flash to begin with…

            But with Chrome supporting running Android apps, it won’t be long before you can simply use the Android app to access AIV as at least an OOB solution that should eventually be easier to enable…

            Besides, this is all different from Netflix because Netflix issue was using MS Silverlight instead of regular Flash for watching in Browsers… And most of the change now is mainly because of the switching to HTML5 based solution and not really because Netflix is specifically adding support for Linux… as this will mainly only work through Chrome anyway…

            Alternatively, solutions like XMBC can be made to work with both Amazon and Hulu and are generally much better for media watching… and it’s not like the average GNU/Linux user would really be bothered with dual booting…

          3. At this point I’m just surprised you didn’t use three of those nine paragraphs to inform me that “Planet of the Ood” was actually a subpar episode of Doctor Who.

          4. Yes, you tend to be long-winded, in a highly informative and highly appreciated way. Feel free to keep up your current posting style, with your encyclopedic and incisive knowledge of tech. Seriously, keep posting good stuff!

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