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Chrome DRM Media Movies Entertainment Linux

Netflix Now Works On Linux With HTML5 DRM Video Support In Chrome 201

Posted by timothy
from the better-than-impossible dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Beginning with the Chrome 38 Beta it's now possible to watch Netflix without any Wine/Silverlight plug-ins but will work natively using Chrome's DRM-HTML5 video capabilities with Netflix. The steps just involve using the latest beta of Chrome and an HTTP user-agent switcher to tell Netflix you're a Windows Chrome user, due to Netflix arbitrarily blocking the Linux build."
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Netflix Now Works On Linux With HTML5 DRM Video Support In Chrome

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  • Netflix arbitrarily blocking the Linux build

    I find it hard to believe that they would do it just because they can.

    • Re:Why is (Score:5, Insightful)

      by houstonbofh (602064) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @02:15PM (#47638359)
      If they do not want my OS, they do not want my money... I mean it is nice that it can work, but I am not signing up yet.
      • Re:Why is (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @02:30PM (#47638441)

        I used to be a long term NF user (the mail dvd's, that is) but the service started getting slow (mailings were not as fast as before) and many titles were dropped (not NF's fault, but I still had less choice).

        TPB does what I need and there's never a problem with compatibility ;)

        sorry, entertainment industry, but I gave up on you. for decades (quite a few of them) I helped fund your overpriced shite. that has now ended.

        my cost is that of a VPN and that's it. and so, I'm 'there' until things drastically change, and I don't see that happening even in my lifetime.

        so, even though linux is now 'working', I could actually care less. too little, too late.

        • Re:Why is (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 09, 2014 @02:39PM (#47638489)

          I could actually care less

          So exactly how much less could you actually care then?

          • by PReDiToR (687141)
            I've started to think of it as
            - I could actually care less if I really tried.

            This small addendum makes my stress levels lower.
            Stupid people are taking over the world; me getting het up about their poor grammar seems likely to make me one of them.
          • Sorry, return type is boolean, not floating point.

        • by Garrynz (904755)
          David Mitchell rant about "could care less" explains it better than I could https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
        • Re:Why is (Score:5, Funny)

          by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @04:26PM (#47638941)

          I could actually care less.

          That means you do care, at least a little [youtube.com].

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Which is technically correct, otherwise he wouldn't have bothered commenting about it.

        • by mlw4428 (1029576)
          Do you feel you're exempt from having to pay for the work others have done? We can get real philosophical and shit about whether copying data is tantamount to stealing it, but there certainly can't be any argument to the point that if you don't purchase a DVD or download you're not paying the people who are asking to be paid for their work. People like you are why companies feel the need for restrictive DRM. You feel the product is overpriced so you won't pay for it, but that doesn't mean you should than be
    • Re:Why is (Score:5, Insightful)

      by astro (20275) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @02:17PM (#47638369) Homepage

      Because no matter how strongly they state that a configuration is not supported, if it's not expressly blocked, people will try to get technical support for it. And with the distro landscape as it is, supporting mainstream software on "Linux" is a nightmare.

      • by markdavis (642305)

        If it is browser based, is it really THAT hard to "support"? Just wondering.

        BTW- as far as I am aware, no distro includes or supports Chrome, anyway... only Chromium (which is open source).

        • BTW- as far as I am aware, no distro includes or supports Chrome, anyway... only Chromium (which is open source).

          What do you mean by support?

          On my linux box, I have both Chromium and Chrome installed. Chrome makes it easier to switch google apps profiles [howtogeek.com] than Chromium.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I've started to differentiate two notions of "support" in the past year or so. One of them, the most popular definition among users, is "it works on my system". The other is what the developers mean: "we'll answer your email regarding your predicament". If it works it doesn't mean that it's also supported. It just means you're one lucky guy. You may be 10 billion lucky guys, but if the developer doesn't want to support your lucky install, expect borkage with each new release.

        • Which raises another question. Can you make Chromium work with Netflix?

          I'm a firefox guy personally. I use pipelight and it works quite well.

          • Which raises another question. Can you make Chromium work with Netflix?

            I'm a firefox guy personally. I use pipelight and it works quite well.

            I use it as well but it has a habbit of getting the audio stream out of synce with the video and tends to misbehave with multiple monitors. I will have to try this on chrome and see if it works better.

            • by PopeRatzo (965947)

              I use it as well but it has a habbit of getting the audio stream out of synce with the video

              Oh good. I thought I was just using pipelight wrong.

          • by Microlith (54737)

            Can you make Chromium work with Netflix?

            Unlikely, unless you do a pipelight-style solution. The HTML5 support won't work because the CDM is only part of the closed source Chrome builds.

        • Re:Why is (Score:4, Informative)

          by astro (20275) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @02:49PM (#47638535) Homepage

          From the replies on the linked blog post, people are having distro-specific successes / failures even after following the instructions. I can imagine this being anything from distro specific paths, to permissions on certain binaries that could be different for say, Fedora from Mint, to codec issues (though as I understand it with Chrome the codecs are all basically wrapped up in the binary?) The specific technical details of this situation are a bit out of my area of expertise but I don't think any of the things I guess at here are out of the realm of possibility.

          Technical issues aside - I welcome this development. I know and understand completely that a lot of people have issues with DRM making it's way into the core HTML (5) specs, but I kind of see it as unavoidable if we want to enjoy commercial content without needing completely non-standard garbageware like Silverlight or Flash. I have used Netflix with the Compholio Wine / Pipelight stuff, and while it works, it struggles to do so.

          Yeah, there is a slippery slope and lots of compromise - but I would have less reason to ever boot into Windows if my paid subscriptions to content that I enjoy could work natively under "Linux". And just don't ask me to stop watching movies or playing 3xA game titles, because I won't.

          • You find that for Windows and OS-X, support is pretty broad. Stated as things like "Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8" and pretty lax hardware allowances. However when you look at games for Linux they are things like "SteamOS" or "Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and Steam OS" and sometimes specific hardware that is supported.

            Why is that? Compatibility issues. They aren't going to go and support every varied Linux distro out there. They've found a couple that work (and the same thing really, SteamOS descends from Ubutnu LTS) and t

        • Re:Why is (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @03:04PM (#47638607)

          If it is browser based, is it really THAT hard to "support"?

          Yes. I have actually done phone support, and you would not believe how dumb some people are. Many will call for support before they even turn their computer on. They want someone to babysit them through the entire process before they even try to do it themselves. The only way to deal with these people cost effectively, is to hire a bunch of Indians or Filipinos, and have them walk the users through a canned script. Once you start throwing in additional variables, and Linux has a lot of variables, then the complexity of the script increases exponentially. Pretty soon, you end up having to hire expensive tech support people that are actually capable of thinking and troubleshooting. Why should Netflix do that for an extra 1% in sales?

          • by Kjella (173770)

            Yes. I have actually done phone support, and you would not believe how dumb some people are. Many will call for support before they even turn their computer on. They want someone to babysit them through the entire process before they even try to do it themselves.

            Come on, those kinds of people don't run Linux at all. The Linux problem is pretty much the exact opposite, you've got a bunch of dangerously knowledgeable users who've all tweaked their setup and expect all their special little snowflakes to be supported even though it's not.

            • by SeaFox (739806)

              Yes. I have actually done phone support, and you would not believe how dumb some people are. Many will call for support before they even turn their computer on. They want someone to babysit them through the entire process before they even try to do it themselves.

              Come on, those kinds of people don't run Linux at all. The Linux problem is pretty much the exact opposite, you've got a bunch of dangerously knowledgeable users who've all tweaked their setup and expect all their special little snowflakes to be supported even though it's not.

              I got someone a few weeks ago running Linux who didn't even know what distro they had. Their brother had set the machine up for them.
              We figured out they were using Ubuntu. This is an Internet tech support outfit and I was the second person to talk to them. We found the networking on the machine was disabled. Re-enabling restored the connection.

              Sub says they had tried that with the last person they'd talked to before me a couple days ago, and it would just go back to being disabled after it tried enabling fo

        • by JSG (82708)

          In Gentoo you get three versions of Chrome - stable, beta, unstable. My wife's Arch running laptop has Chrome although to be fair I did have to add it from the community package source which seems to be pretty obligatory anyway.

          Pretty sure Ubuntu and Mint have it available. I doubt very much that Debian, with its legendarily large repo of stuff can't manage a major browser.

          If you can install Linux there's a fair chance you can get Chrome to run on it.

          • Chrome itself isn't available in the repositories of Debian or Ubuntu. Chromium is. Mint may have it. The usual way is to get the deb file from Google, which adds a source entry for Google's repos.

      • Re:Why is (Score:5, Funny)

        by VTBlue (600055) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @03:03PM (#47638593)

        A Linux user calling tech support...that's rich.

        • Re:Why is (Score:5, Funny)

          by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @04:01PM (#47638845)

          Oh, I've heard Linux users calling tech support all sort of things. Most of them not suitable for polite conversation, but still...

        • by fred911 (83970)

          Reaching a "tech" that's not scripted on the first, second or third call is just as rare.

        • Happens ALL the time (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @11:59PM (#47640461)

          I work for an engineering college at a big research university. As such, lots of computers, some of them Linux. Despite the smug assurances you may see online that Linux users don't need support, nothing could be further from the truth. Some people who choose to use Linux at work do it because they've a lot of experience with it, and aren't much trouble. However many more do it either because:

          1) They have a tool that only runs on Linux, or more accurately that they can only figure out how to make run on Linux. It is usually something cobbled together by a researcher at another university for Ubuntu and only compiles easily on that. If you knew what you were doing you could modify it for something else, but they don't. They usually end up needing a moderate amount of support.

          2) They have the idea that Linux is the "l33t professional" OS and it's what you need to use if you want to be a serious computer user, so they want it. No thought goes in to it, they have no experience with it, no understanding, they figure it'll just be easy. These kinds need a ton of support.

          A few examples:

          --A grad student said she needed Linux on the computer she had bought and configured (without consulting IT). All the software she wanted run on Windows and out Linux guy even told her she'd be better off with Windows. Nope, had to have Linux. We got a continual stream of tickets when she couldn't figure things out, had problems with the AMD driver and so on, and he finally told her "Let us install Windows or go away."

          --A professor who bought a system and FPGA card, again without consulting us, and then said he needed Linux. This was after his grad student tried and failed to install it, hosing the system in the process. We put Linux on, and then it turns out neither he nor his grad student have any idea how to make the FPGA card work. It has no programming, you have to do it from scratch. They also don't know how to use Linux to the point they whined about "not having admin" on the Linux install which they had full control on, they just couldn't work out sudo.

          --A couple of grad students that insisted a new server needed to be Linux "for best performance". This was during a time when we didn't have a Linux guy (we are a small team, and our last one had left we were in the process of hiring the current one) so I looked in to it, and found the lead and recommended platform was Windows. I talked to the professor about it and she said go ahead with Windows, they grad students could deal, since support would be easier on Windows. Got the server up and running, first thing they wanted? Two programs that are Windows only and were mandatory to what they were doing. Had we given them Linux, we would have been reinstalling the server right away because it literally couldn't run the software they needed.

          The flipside of Linux seeing increasing use is that there are plenty of clueless Linux users. They don't go in to Linux saying "I really enjoy computers and learning about them, I want to learn all about this OS, how it works, how to support it, how to modify it, etc." Rather they go in saying "Oh Linux is free!" or "Oh Linux is what hackers use!" and have no idea what the fuck they are doing, and need help.

          • by VTBlue (600055)

            I work for an engineering college at a big research university. As such, lots of computers, some of them Linux. Despite the smug assurances you may see online that Linux users don't need support, nothing could be further from the truth. Some people who choose to use Linux at work do it because they've a lot of experience with it, and aren't much trouble. However many more do it either because:

            1) They have a tool that only runs on Linux, or more accurately that they can only figure out how to make run on Linux. It is usually something cobbled together by a researcher at another university for Ubuntu and only compiles easily on that. If you knew what you were doing you could modify it for something else, but they don't. They usually end up needing a moderate amount of support.

            2) They have the idea that Linux is the "l33t professional" OS and it's what you need to use if you want to be a serious computer user, so they want it. No thought goes in to it, they have no experience with it, no understanding, they figure it'll just be easy. These kinds need a ton of support.

            A few examples:

            --A grad student said she needed Linux on the computer she had bought and configured (without consulting IT). All the software she wanted run on Windows and out Linux guy even told her she'd be better off with Windows. Nope, had to have Linux. We got a continual stream of tickets when she couldn't figure things out, had problems with the AMD driver and so on, and he finally told her "Let us install Windows or go away."

            --A professor who bought a system and FPGA card, again without consulting us, and then said he needed Linux. This was after his grad student tried and failed to install it, hosing the system in the process. We put Linux on, and then it turns out neither he nor his grad student have any idea how to make the FPGA card work. It has no programming, you have to do it from scratch. They also don't know how to use Linux to the point they whined about "not having admin" on the Linux install which they had full control on, they just couldn't work out sudo.

            --A couple of grad students that insisted a new server needed to be Linux "for best performance". This was during a time when we didn't have a Linux guy (we are a small team, and our last one had left we were in the process of hiring the current one) so I looked in to it, and found the lead and recommended platform was Windows. I talked to the professor about it and she said go ahead with Windows, they grad students could deal, since support would be easier on Windows. Got the server up and running, first thing they wanted? Two programs that are Windows only and were mandatory to what they were doing. Had we given them Linux, we would have been reinstalling the server right away because it literally couldn't run the software they needed.

            The flipside of Linux seeing increasing use is that there are plenty of clueless Linux users. They don't go in to Linux saying "I really enjoy computers and learning about them, I want to learn all about this OS, how it works, how to support it, how to modify it, etc." Rather they go in saying "Oh Linux is free!" or "Oh Linux is what hackers use!" and have no idea what the fuck they are doing, and need help.

            I suppose I'm too late to append /sarcasm to my posting...but hey thanks for playing! You put in a big effort A+

      • by quantaman (517394)

        Because no matter how strongly they state that a configuration is not supported, if it's not expressly blocked, people will try to get technical support for it. And with the distro landscape as it is, supporting mainstream software on "Linux" is a nightmare.

        It might be simpler than that.

        Up till now there hasn't been a browser that would identify as Linux and run Netflix (unless the Wine/Silverlight combo did so).

        So if a browser identifies as coming from Linux it's a surefire guarantee it won't work, so rather than trying to run and throwing up an obscure but unfixable error it's better to simply tell the user to give up right at the start.

        Now there's a Chrome beta where Netflix can run on Linux, maybe when the beta is released they'll start official Linux supp

      • More likely the Netfix website code just assumes that any desktop Linux build is incompatible because that has historically always been the case. Now it isn't anymore perhaps it will version check Chrome on Linux and decide whenever the Netflix devs get around to it, though I can't see it being much of a priority to them however much I would like it to be.
      • by amiga3D (567632)

        They could pick a Distro or maybe two. They could support Suse and Ubuntu and let that be it. If anyone wanted to watch Netflix on linux they could use one of those or figure out their own support.

    • Re:Why is (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 09, 2014 @02:23PM (#47638407)

      Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, was also on the Board of Directors for Microsoft from 2007 through 2012.

      So yes, they can.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reed_Hastings

      • Re:Why is (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao&hotmail,com> on Saturday August 09, 2014 @02:38PM (#47638483) Homepage

        Ex-Microsoft people, always causing trouble to their new companies to benefit their old company. See also: Stephen Elop.

        • by exomondo (1725132)

          Ex-Microsoft people, always causing trouble to their new companies to benefit their old company.

          How does that shit get modded up? After all while Netflix support Microsoft they also support Microsoft's biggest competitors: Sony (Playstation), Apple (OS X and iOS), Nintendo (Wii), Google (Chromebooks and even Android to a degree). The fact that they don't support "Linux" (even though they do support Linux in the form of Chromebooks and Android) hardly seems to be some Microsoft-centric conspiracy now does it?

      • Re:Why is (Score:4, Informative)

        by cheesybagel (670288) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @04:00PM (#47638841)

        He also was CEO of Pure Software. The guys who did the Purify malloc debugging tool for UNIX. Being in the board of directors does not mean much.

      • Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, was also on the Board of Directors for Microsoft from 2007 through 2012.

        So yes, they can.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reed_Hastings

        So what's the theory for Netflix working fine on my PS4, Wii, Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, iMac, etc.?

        Christ, nobody cares that strongly about Linux. I mean... that's why there's no conspiracy to exclude it... I'm sure you love it, but damn.

        • by amiga3D (567632)

          My theory is they consider Linux users to all be hackers and they're sure that we'll find a way to destroy their DRM if they allow a Linux client.

          • by bjwest (14070)

            My theory is they consider Linux users to all be hackers and they're sure that we'll find a way to destroy their DRM if they allow a Linux client.

            If I (and I'm sure 99.9% of Linux users) really wanted a DRM free copy of something I watch on NetFlix, I'd not go through the trouble of de-DRMing it myself, I'd just download the damn thing form the many places it's already DRM free. I pay a premium for NetFlix with two DVD/Blue Ray disks and unlimited streaming. Id' like be able to watch steaming on my Linux computer. Same goes for Amazon Prime. All the crap you have available for streaming is already available at a multitude of places. You aren't p

    • Re:Why is (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Shoten (260439) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @04:08PM (#47638863)

      "due to Netflix arbitrarily blocking the Linux build"

      i.e., generating a valid page based on detection of a Linux-based USER-AGENT from the browser, to save the user from trying to troubleshoot what has been, until recently, a problem that the user could not fix. Hardly sinister.

    • I would hypothesize that, by preventing access from Linux users in such an easily defeated way, they shield themselves from legal responsibilities for proper functioning of the service on the multitude of Linux configurations out there, while still making it easy for the knowledgeable Linux user to pay their monthly fees and "make it work" on their own if they so desire. Which, really, is a win for everyone in the current environment.

  • by Meneth (872868)
    So, how long until this DRM module is hacked to let you save uncrypted copies?
  • I wish Netflix or Amazon Prime ran on my Raspbmc setup.
  • by jtotheh (229796) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:21PM (#47639701)

    I was able to get this working using the instructions in the original post - with the following changes:

    I first tried with Debian stable. The google-chrome-unstable deb installs OK, but I couldn't get the video to play.
    I saw posts that it might work with sid. So I cooked up a sid vm.
    My default NAT network was disabled, I found some instructions to re-enable it.
    Once I had a sid vm, I found that there was no sound. I set it to ac97 in virt-manager but ended up abandoning virt-manager and using this command line
    sudo qemu-system-x86_64 /var/lib/libvirt/images/siddy.img -cpu kvm64,+nx -enable-kvm -m 1536 -soundhw hda -usb

    Once I had sound and networking going, I installed the google-chrome-unstable deb in the VM. Then I found the user-agent extension and installed that. I created a user-agent using EXACTLY the string given in the original post...

    And now I'm watching a netflix movie.

    Right now I have the chrome in the VM displaying to a Xephyr window in the host environment, will be interested to see if there is a better way.

    And it's true we should not have to do crap like this to use our netflix accounts!

    • by ignavus (213578)

      And it's true we should not have to do crap like this to use our netflix accounts!

      Now, try doing that outside the US, where you are also blocked because of location, not just OS.

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