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Is there a way to stream Netflix content to my Ubuntu?

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7 Answers 7

up vote 46 down vote accepted

As of December 7th, 2012 the following works on 12.04 and 12.10 (at least).

Note: For new instructions --as of October 2013-- on how to install (Windows-)silverlight (ultimately useful to watch Netflix) in Firefox see at the end.

Open a terminal (Ctrl-Alt-T), an type:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ehoover/compholio
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install netflix-desktop

This will install around 254MB of packages, mainly it will install wine-compholio (a custom version of wine that is able to run Silverlight) and dependencies. If wine is not installed already you may need to agree to use Microsoft fonts (in the text mode window use arrow keys or tab to reach the red "ok" button in text mode when it appears). The download/installation takes around 15 minutes.

Then run the newly installed "netflix-desktop" application from the menu (or from the command line).


If something went wrong in the installation (third party links are involved), don't panic: netflix-desktop will detect that something is missing and try to reinstall it, if that also fails, start over.

When you run it for the first time it will initialize wine and probably ask about installing Mono and Gecko wine packages (I accepted and installed them just in case).

The netflix-desktop application opens up, login to your Netflix account.

The window will open in fullscreen, which is very elegant, but if you want to have control over the window press F11 right away to exit fullscreen mode. (It may also ask to install a Firefox extension --specially designed-- that makes fullscreen mode more friendly.)

Use Netflix as you would normally do.


It worked flawlessly in my Ubuntu 12.04 and 12.10 (I have a Core i7).

(As you may have realized at this poin, the netflix-desktop is really Firefox 17 running on wine without menubars. Press F10 to gain control over the Firefox menu and navigation.)


Credits and references: This information was originally taken from http://www.webupd8.org/2012/11/how-to-use-netflix-in-ubuntu-through.html. Although this is a result of a campaign initiated by www.iheartubuntu.com in http://www.iheartubuntu.com/2012/02/netflix-on-linux-contest.html, resulting in this achievement http://www.iheartubuntu.com/2012/11/ppa-for-netflix-desktop-app.html (by Erich Hoover) which also contains a link for donations to support the development. There is also https://launchpad.net/netflix-desktop

Bonus: By running this you have a fully functional Firefox 17 (Windows version) with working Silverlight that can be used to navigate other sites, by pressing F10 -> View -> Toolbars -> Navigation menu on the main window you can access any site and be able to use Silverlight.

Alternative Method: Install Windows-Silverlight in Linux-Firefox

Alternatively, it is now possible to install Silverlight inside (Linux) Firefox as if it were a native plugin. (you can see http://fds-team.de/cms/pipelight-installation.html for more info)

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:pipelight/stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install pipelight-multi
sudo pipelight-plugin --enable silverlight

Then install the UAControl Firefox add-on (UAControl - neko.tsugumi.org) and convince movies.netflix.com that your browser is a Windows one, for example "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; rv:23.0) Gecko/20131011 Firefox/23.0".

Then go to www.netflix.com.

Source: Pipelight: Use Silverlight In Your Linux Browser To Watch Netflix, Maxdome Videos And More ~ Web Upd8: Ubuntu / Linux blog

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This also works for hudl.com! Many thanks, @alfC! –  cuichi May 10 '13 at 14:03
@alfC Is the AUControl Firefox add-on still available? –  Lucio Dec 11 '13 at 15:13
@Lucio, it is UAControl (fixed), yes, it is available. –  alfC Dec 11 '13 at 19:13

Native 14.04, 14.10

You can now watch natively with HTML5 on Chrome Beta, The comprehensive instructions were detailed here: http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2014/08/netflix-linux-html5-support-plugins

Steps to take from a fresh install(see the source for other complex issues or troubleshooting):

  1. Download and install Google Chrome Beta (or unstable, also you can try with stable as there are reports of it working): https://www.google.com/chrome/browser/beta.html
  2. Install User-Agent Switcher for Chrome: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/user-agent-switcher-for-c/djflhoibgkdhkhhcedjiklpkjnoahfmg/related

  3. Right click on its icon -> Options -> Type the following into the fields to make a new User-Agent:


    Netflix Linux


    Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.3; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/38.0.2114.2 Safari/537.36  

    (skip is automatic filled)

    Select ‘Replace’


    Then hit the Add button - It should look like this when done:

    enter image description here

  4. Next on the left side go to the "Permanent Spoof list" and enter netflix.com in the Domain and select your newly created Netflix Linux string, then hit the Add button.

  5. For 14.04 need to follow the "14.04 only" step on: http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2014/08/netflix-linux-html5-support-plugins (you may already have newer versions depending on the desktops installed, but for a base Unity install follow them) The following is a summary of those steps:

    32: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8MFusG83BYvdlRwcmFJb2ZNY2M/edit?usp=sharing
    64: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8MFusG83BYvak5FdkVNMlNxd0U/edit?usp=sharing

    Extract to your home folder

    Run in terminal:

    sudo dpkg -i libnss3*
  6. Go to Netflix and try a movie

Bonus Webapp Desktop file:

  1. Download a icon for netflix to use, I like searching google for a suitable icon This one by Dakirby309 looks good: https://www.iconfinder.com/icons/98197/netflix_icon#size=128

    enter image description here

  2. Save the icon as netflix.png in your home folder
  3. Create a file called Netflix.desktop in your home folder
  4. Open it in a text editing program like gedit
  5. Insert the following text:

    [Desktop Entry]
    Exec=google-chrome-beta --user-agent='Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.3; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/38.0.2114.2 Safari/537.36' -app=http://www.netflix.com

    Switch out "USERNAME" for your username, so it can find the icon you downloaded. As reported here this has the added benefit of not requiring the user agent switching plugin.

  6. Next save and close out of editing, and make the file executable by → right click on the Netflix.desktop file → Properties → Permissions tab → Execute: → Check the box "Allow executing file as program"
  7. Drag the icon to your launcher (don't remove/move the original) enter image description here Now you have a Netflix WebApp!
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Actually - to address your question. PlayOn the service which drives Netflix (and Hulu) will be rolling out an HTML5 client which should negate the need for Silverlight (and Moonlight). It's out for the iPhone now - but I assume that shortly will be used to stream PlayOn services to Linux Machines.

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Thanks Marco. I already have PlayOn so will be keeping an eye on it. –  Gator Aug 6 '10 at 21:10
The fact that PlayOn is in the process of switching to HTML5 properly wont change anything as regards to playing their stream. They will still use a proprietary and DRM protected video format, and they will most certainly not make a plugin for Linux. –  Source Lab Aug 7 '10 at 10:13
worthless still would need to run a windows box. –  schwiz Feb 28 '11 at 4:14
Just a note, from two years later, still no HTML5 client (fully). Still no Linux port. Still no luck watching Netflix on Ubuntu. –  rlemon Mar 12 '12 at 13:20
@rlemon While a Netflix solution now exist, PlayOn Media Server is still without a solution –  James Jan 27 '13 at 15:39

I read a while ago that it might be possible to run a Wii emulator instead of virtual box, but I don't think that would be an improvement for most people. I've been meaning to try Netflix in an android emulator since the app came out, however I still need to test if it will actually work. The problem is that the app is only "approved" for certain phones. There is a hack that is suppose to work for rooted phones, So I think there's a good chance this could be a better solution than virtual box, but it's hard to say for sure.

If someone else gets this working please let me know.

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Moonlight, while it is an open-source alternative to Silverlight, does not work for Netflix. The reason that this does not work for Netflix is that Netflix also requires DRM support, which Moonlight does not give.

There IS a way to watch things on Netflix through Ubuntu though.

You will want to virtualize Windows XP/Vista/7 on Ubuntu. I would recommend Virtualbox, but you are free to use whatever you want. Under the virtual machine, you can use the real Silverlight and DRM-support and watch Netflix.

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Try running these commands:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ehoover/compholio

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install netflix-desktop

Then find netflix in the launcher and it should work.

BUT if it doesn't work the first time, like it didn't for me, try this:

rm -Rf ~/.netflix-desktop

sudo apt-get install netflix-desktop

I got my answers from here: http://www.iheartubuntu.com/2012/11/ppa-for-netflix-desktop-app.html

It has some further troubleshooting notes that I didn't post here so check it out if this doesn't work for you.

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Pipelight is a plugin that builds upon Erich Hoover's Netflix-Desktop to allow Ubuntu users to watch Netflix from within a native Firefox browser.

Web Upd8 article

Add compholio and pipelight ppa

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ehoover/compholio

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:mqcheal/pipelight

sudo apt-get update

Install Pipelight

Close your browser first!

sudo apt-get install pipelight

Now Silverlight will work on some sites but Netflix and some others check the browser user agent and will not play on a Linux machine.

Install a plugin to change user agent

I used User Agent Overrider

In Firefox got to Tools -> Add Ons and search for User Agent.

Install User Agent Overrider

Select the latest Firefox/Windows combination.

Head over to netflix.com and enjoy.

This is from an article on web upd8

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protected by Seth Mar 19 at 4:55

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