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

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+100

Important:

Please note that Ubuntu releases 12.04, 14.04 and newer now support native Netflix playback via HTML5.

The solution in this answer should only be used in cases where native playback is not possible (e.g. unsupported Ubuntu releases, browsers other than Google Chrome).

Also note that as of Firefox 49, Netflix playback is natively supported.


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 wine-staging
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).

menunetflix

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.

mainwin

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.)

windowmenutoolbar

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-add-repository ppa:ehoover/compholio
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install wine-staging
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

  • 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
  • 1
    @Lucio, it is UAControl (fixed), yes, it is available. – alfC Dec 11 '13 at 19:13
  • NO NO NO way, netflix desktop is too resource intensive and the application overlay is extremely annoying. Add pipelight and use your exsisting firefox install. See my instructions below. – WhosUrDaddy Dec 22 '14 at 22:43
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    E: The repository 'http://ppa.launchpad.net/ehoover/compholio/ubuntu bionic Release' does not have a Release file. no long works in Ubuntu 18 – Jonathan Jan 7 at 20:19
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Native HTML5 playback on Ubuntu 14.04 and up

You will need an updated installation of Google Chrome (not Chromium; and make sure to choose the right package for your machine):

enter image description here

  1. Head over to Netflix and try out a movie or show. Everything should be working fine now.

    If you are facing playback problems try lowering the quality to match the capability of your hardware. I would recommend a computer better than a 1GHZ 1GB Netbook.¹

1: (as I experienced stuttering on that level of device; Nevermind, current update has relieved most all playback issues with my netbook.)


enter image description here


Bonus: Netflix Webapp

You can integrate Netflix with your Ubuntu desktop by creating a nice .desktop launcher:

  1. Download an icon for Netflix to use. Personally, I usually search google for a suitable icon This one by Dakirby309 looks good:

    enter image description here

    Save the icon as netflix.png in your home folder

  2. Create a file called Netflix.desktop in your home folder

  3. Open it in a text editing program like gedit
  4. Insert the following text:

    [Desktop Entry]
    Type=Application
    Name=Netflix
    Exec=google-chrome -app=http://www.netflix.com
    Icon=/home/USERNAME/Pictures/netflix.png
    Terminal=false
    StartupWMClass=www.netflix.com
    

    Make sure to replace /home/USERNAME/Pictures/netflix.png with the correct path to your Netflix icon.

  5. Save the desktop file and exit your editor.

  6. Make the file executable by right clicking on Netflix.desktop and heading to PropertiesPermissions tab → Execute: → Check the box Allow executing file as program
  7. Drag the icon to your launcher (don't remove/move the original)

Now you have a Netflix WebApp!:

enter image description here


Alternatively you can also use the Chrome plug-in and launch it in "Windowed" mode by doing the following:

  1. Right clicking on the app
  2. Select Create shortcuts:

    enter image description here

  3. Only check Applications menu and confirm your choice

This will make Netlix available in the Dash:

enter image description here

If you don't like the appearance of the scroll bars, you can enable Chrome's overlay scrollbars. Go to chrome://flags/#overlay-scrollbars and Enable them. Now you have scrollbars that complete the experience:

enter image description here

  • In your screenshot, you seem to be watching a Netflix show on Chromium, how? – UniversallyUniqueID Aug 28 '16 at 8:46
  • ;) chromium now links to the chrome widevine, you need to copy over the widevine plugin files, or install chrome in tandem, as well you need to spoof the user agent. – Mateo Aug 28 '16 at 14:00
  • the path for Chrome plugin has changed. I used this new link to launch directly in "Windowed" mode – Boris Nov 1 '18 at 16:33
  • Does not support 5.1 surround audio :( – Jonathan Jan 7 at 20:20
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For firefox, after version 49 you can also watch netflix on linux without any extra steps, firefox will download the native google widevine CDM plugin and play protected content:

Now that I have Firefox 49 or higher, how do I watch Netflix?

So this are the needed steps:

  1. have a netflix account! :)
  2. install firefox 49 or above
  3. recommended: install a user-agent switcher add-on. i use http://mybrowseraddon.com/useragent-switcher.html, but almost all user-agent add-ons should work. you can also edit directly the firefox user-agent, but not recommended, as this will send the chrome user-agent to all sites and that might break other things. That add-on can be configured to send only chrome user-agent to netflix site.
  4. select in the user-agent chrome+linux and press edit and change the chrome version to 53 or above, like this:

    Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/53.0.2785.34 Safari/537.36

    Old chrome versions will block netflix from working, so this is important. You may need to update the user-agent to the latest version (by checking a local install or trying something from http://www.browser-info.net/useragents) Also in the text box, replace the "all_urls" to netflix.com. This will apply the changed user-agent to netflix only

  5. Enter netflix, trying to see a show/movie, firefox will warn that it needs to enable DRM support. Accept and it will download and install the widevine DRM plugin. Wait a minute and reload the page. Sometimes you need to go back and try again, but it will work

I will ask netflix about the status for supporting firefox on linux user-agent and update this when needed

  • Steps 3–5 are obsolete for 16.10. Netflix on Firefox works out of the box. – Wrzlprmft Apr 23 '17 at 15:25
  • @Wrzlprmft correct, netflix finally works out of the box with linux firefox (and now several other linux browsers too, as long they have the DRM support) – higuita May 5 '17 at 12:57
  • Does not work with Surround audio :( – Jonathan Jan 7 at 20:20
  • @Jonathan Currently, as per help.netflix.com/en/node/14163, netflix report that you do not have 5.1 in HTML5 video and silverlight, so basically no 5.1 in any browser and OS. Not a firefox nor linux limitation – higuita Jan 9 at 1:44
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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, and I assume that it will shortly be used to stream PlayOn services to Linux Machines.

  • Thanks Marco. I already have PlayOn so will be keeping an eye on it. – Gator Aug 6 '10 at 21:10
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    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. – LassePoulsen Aug 7 '10 at 10:13
  • worthless still would need to run a windows box. – schwiz Feb 28 '11 at 4:14
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    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
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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.

5

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.

1

Pipelight

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

  • Pipelight is what worked for me. For the user agent, I used (as in another answer above): Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/53.0.2785.34 Safari/537.36 – landroni Oct 7 '16 at 12:02
1

Netflix desktop is too resource intensive and the overlay is VERY ANNOYING, I would HIGHLY recommend the following steps and use Firefox.

Add Netflix for Firefox

Open Terminal

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:pipelight/stable

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install --install-recommends pipelight-multi

sudo pipelight-plugin --update

sudo pipelight-plugin --enable silverlight

add user agent overrider to Firefox Add ons

change user agent string to windows/chrome34

Now you won't have a dedicated application for Netflix and you can use your existing browser installation.

Another non related benefit of pipelight is that you can enable the latest Flash version with it. No need for pepper anymore! :)

  • Pipelight is what worked for me. For the user agent, I used (as in another answer above): Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/53.0.2785.34 Safari/537.36 – landroni Oct 7 '16 at 12:03
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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.

  • No longer works in Ubuntu 18 – Jonathan Jan 7 at 20:18

protected by Seth Mar 19 '14 at 4:55

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