August 12, 2014

Google Chrome for Linux Can Now Run Netflix

Linux users like to watch movies too, but running the online streaming service on the open-source platform has always been an exercise in jumping through hoops and hacks, like running Microsoft Silverlight on a modified version of Wine. But now, HTML5 and the Google (News Alert) Chrome browser have paved the way for a cleaner, more native experience.

According to Phoronix readers, Linux aficionados can modify the user-agent of the latest beta version of Chrome (38) to support Netflix running natively on their machines.

An ongoing challenge for Web-delivered TV lies in the evolution of the codecs and protocols and transport methods involved in moving IP video around the Web – a universe that is becoming more diverse. For instance, Apple (News Alert)'s lack of support for Flash for iTunes content has been a thorn in many developer’s sides. HTML5 therefore is emerging as the new standard for Web content and especially video, because it’s supported on every browser and device, and that helps bridge many of the issues presented by device and OS fragmentation. Thus, it represents a standard that could emerge as semi-universal, royalty-free and native to the browser.

However, digital rights management (DRM) has been an issue for HTML5. Netflix and any subscription content is going to require DRM support from browsers and players in order to gate their content and protect it from piracy. Microsoft, Google, Mozilla (NewsAlert) and Apple have thus all implemented support for a DRM specification called Encrypted Media Extensions (EME), which has been embraced by Netflix. Now, Google has extended that spec to the Linux version of the browser.

 “Thanks to DRM support with HTML5 and Google's Chrome developers moving quick to implement the support that's backed by Netflix, you can today run Chrome and play Netflix videos without having to use Pipelight or any other plug-ins — the support simply works through having DRM'ed HTML5 video support,” the site noted.

Users will need to download the user agent switcher for Chrome from the developer site, and then change the user-agent string for the Linux Chrome browser to: "( Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.3; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/37.0.2049.0 Safari/537.36 )"

“Following that, you should be able to go to Netflix and begin playing your favorite films or TV shows,” Phoronix noted. “Hopefully Netflix will begin to officially support the Chrome Linux build in the near future.”

Edited by Alisen Downey


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