It is now possible to watch Netflix on any Linux system, so long as you run the Chrome browser starting with version 37. This will let you avoid having to use a Wine-based workaround to get the Silverlight plugin to work. More importantly, the latest releases of Chrome block this workaround anyway, so you would have only been able to use Firefox to watch Netflix. For the time being, you aren’t able to use Firefox to natively watch Netflix.
How Is This Possible?
Since the World Wide Web Consortium has added a portion of DRM (digital rights management) called Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) to the HTML5 specifications, Netflix was able to go ahead with its development of an HTML5 player that is meant to replace the Silverlight player it has been traditionally using. However, not only did Netflix have to develop this player, but browsers also had to add support for DRM. Chrome is now the first browser to do so, which Linux users can take advantage of.
Firefox users currently aren’t able to watch Netflix natively because it does not have support for EME yet. Once this support is added to Firefox, it should start working.
How To Get Netflix Working
To get Netflix to work natively on your Linux system, you’ll first need to get the Chrome browser, at least version 37. Depending on when you read this, this may already be the stable version of Chrome, but at time of writing, version 37 is currently the Beta release.
Once you have Chrome version 37 or higher running on your computer, you’ll also need to make sure that you’re running the absolute latest versions of libnss. The installed version has to be at least 3.16.3, which Ubuntu 14.04 does not provide but Ubuntu 14.10 does. If you use Ubuntu, you can download the 32-bit or 64-bit updated packages of libnss3, libnss3-1d, and libnss3-nssdb. If you use a different distribution, you’ll need to make sure that you have all three packages and that all of them are at least version 3.16.3.
Great, you’re already halfway through! Next, you’ll need to install the User Agent Switcher extension for Chrome. This is needed because Netflix doesn’t officially support Linux, so it denies any users who have user agent strings that say they use Linux. We need this extension to pretend that we’re using Windows, and everything will go smoothly from there. Once it’s installed, you’ll need to right click on the icon in the top right corner, choose Options, and then add a new user agent string.
Then enter in the following details:
- Name: Netflix Linux
- String: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.3; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/38.0.2114.2 Safari/537.36
- Group: Just click into this box and it’ll fill in automatically with “Chrome”
- Append?: Select Replace
- Flag: Whatever you want it to be. Whatever you enter in here is what is displayed on the icon when it is active.
On the left side of the User Agent Switcher options, click on Permanent Spoof Options. Then, type in “netflix.com” in the Domain field (without the quotation marks), and choose the Netflix Linux user agent string. This way, you won’t have to touch anything and the extension will automatically make the necessary change when you visit Netflix, and revert the changes when you visit any other site.
Lastly, log into your Netflix account, look at your Account Settings, and then Playback Settings. Make sure that the option to Prefer HTML5 player instead of Silverlight is enabled. Now, you should be able to pick whatever you want to watch and it’ll work.
We Have Netflix!
It’s great to finally be able to not have to use Silverlight, especially since we’d need Wine to make it work and Microsoft isn’t even really developing Silverlight anymore. It’s less complicated, faster, safer, and more seamless. Sure, it still takes a bit of work to set up via Chrome, but once you’ve done the initial work, you’re all set to use Netflix as easily as you can on a Windows or Mac computer.
Are you glad that you can now use Netflix natively? Would you rather that Netflix support Linux officially? Let us know in the comments!