How To Easily Enable Silverlight, And Watch Netflix, on Linux

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Netflix depends on Silverlight; Silverlight doesn’t play well with Linux. But Linux users have an easy-to-use workaround.

Lots of progress has been made when it comes to watching Netflix on Linux, but now it’s even easier than ever thanks to something called Pipelight. Here’s what you need to do to get Pipelight working on your Linux machine.

About Pipelight

pipelight silverlight test   How To Easily Enable Silverlight, And Watch Netflix, on Linux
Pipelight is a project that aims to get Netflix (and other Silverlight applications) to work on your Linux machine, inside your favorite browser. It’s a lot easier to use than Netflix Desktop, a previous tool for the job that required you run a complete Firefox browser in Wine.

Pipelight allows you to use your favorite Linux browser and you can use it for more than just Netflix. Read more about why Netflix normally doesn’t run on Linux, if you’re curious.

Installation

Getting Pipelight is pretty straightforward. Except for the very end, all you need to do is copy and paste some commands.

Ubuntu

The first thing you’ll need to do is add the necessary repository. In Ubuntu, you can add it with this command:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:pipelight/stable

Then, install Pipelight using the command:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install pipelight-multi

Fedora

In Fedora, you’ll first need to install the Microsoft Core Fonts (fonts like Arial and Times New Roman) manually:

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sudo yum install cabextract && sudo rpm -i http://sourceforge.net/projects/mscorefonts2/files/rpms/msttcore-fonts-installer-2.6-1.noarch.rpm

Once this has completed, you can add the Pipelight repository and install the package:

sudo wget http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/DarkPlayer:/Pipelight/Fedora_19/home:DarkPlayer:Pipelight.repo -O /etc/yum.repos.d/pipelight.repo && sudo yum install pipelight
pipelight fedora install   How To Easily Enable Silverlight, And Watch Netflix, on Linux

Other Distributions

If you’re a user of a different distribution than the two mentioned above (or their derivatives), then just go to this page, where you can find the instructions for your distribution. The general flow of commands will remain the same – it’s just different links and syntax.

Finishing It Off

Once Pipelight has been installed, you need to configure it and enable Silverlight using the command:

sudo pipelight-plugin --enable silverlight

Congratulations! Once you launch your browser, Silverlight should now be functional on your computer! This includes all Silverlight applications that you come across, and not just Netflix.

If you happen to come across any SELinux issues (and Fedora users might) while using Pipelight, you can make SELinux play nice with this command:

sudo setsebool -P unconfined_mozilla_plugin_transition 0

Getting Netflix to Work

If you stopped here to go try out Netflix, you may have noticed that Netflix still doesn’t allow you to watch any of their content, even though you have Silverlight ready to go. Netflix still checks your user agent and recognizes that you’re using a Linux machine, and therefore continues to block you.
pipelight netflix error   How To Easily Enable Silverlight, And Watch Netflix, on Linux
This can be easily circumvented, however, by installing an extension to your browser that can alter your user agent. I’d recommend User Agent Switcher for Firefox (which we reviewed here) and User-Agent Switcher for Chrome. The ideal setting seems to be “Firefox 15 Windows” for Netflix to allow you to continue, but any setting that switches your user agent to Windows should work. The extensions apply the changes to all tabs – not just individual tabs – which is something to take note of. Thankfully, this trick is only needed while you use Netflix – it’s not needed by any other major Silverlight applications.

Conclusion

pipelight netflix running   How To Easily Enable Silverlight, And Watch Netflix, on Linux
I’m really glad that Pipelight came out and is working well — although Netflix Desktop was a good temporary solution, I much rather prefer Pipelight’s implementation. Hopefully Netflix is still planning on making an HTML5 player that doesn’t block Linux in the same way they currently do for their Silverlight player.

How have you been accessing Netflix from Linux so far? Are there any other Silverlight applications you like that this would enable? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credits: Penguins in Antarctica Via Shutterstock

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93 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

dd

seriously? the download comes from opensuse.org/repositories … yet you don’t show how to install pipelite on opensuse

Danny S

Sorry! I had to limit the amount of instructions that I included in the article down to just two major distributions. I know that openSUSE is often included as one of the major three distributions, but that leaves speculation for adding others that are used by approximately the same amount of people. At least the link that I included shows those instructions.

FrustratedLinuxUser

Didn’t work. Netflix still doesn’t work. This tutorial works just about as much as any other tutorial out there. And that’s it. IT DOESN’T.

Buob Funkington

I love you I love you I love you for this article. Big thanks for the dev supermen who made this possible. Open Source is unstoppable, even when they try and hold freedom loving linux users down the community uses ingenuity to overcome their draconian supression!!!!

hagu

Does not work for chrome :(

Reply

Denis

Firefox about:config
general.useragent.override (globally)
or
general.useragent.override.netflix.com (Site specific not working in Firefox 25 and newer, but working in Firefox 24 ESR)

Danny S

Thanks for the tip, Denis!

Reply

Mike

I wonder if this’ll work on the Ordnance Survey website. They use Silverlight to enable their online maps.

Danny S

As long as they also don’t act on the user agent like Netflix does, I don’t see a reason why it shouldn’t. :)

Reply

Mike

I wonder if this’ll work on the Ordnance Survey website. They use Silverlight to enable their online maps.

Reply

grantdb

Works well with Chromium in Xubuntu for me but I was unable to get it working in Firefox. I agree this is much prefered to the old way of watching Netflix, just getting better I hope.

Reply

ryanvade

I think the solution is HTML 5

Reply

Darryl R

For Kubuntu ( or if you use any distro in the Ubuntu family) I personally use netflix-desktop provided by the ppa for compholio. You don’t have to mess around with your Firefox, as it provides a custom wine install of Firefox that acts like a separate application that doesn’t interfere with your default installation of Wine.

Reply

David

I have Silverlight for BT Sport but it doesn’t work. Any ideas?

Reply

Anonymous

It doesn’t work. I have Lubuntu 13.04. Using chrome w/the UA spoofer set to F15. Netflix wants to install Silverlight. Bah

Danny S

Did you make sure to follow all the steps? This sounds like you installed pipelight but didn’t tell pipelight to install the silverlight plugin.

Run_Netflix

Doesn’t work for me either (Ubuntu 14.04)

$ sudo pipelight-plugin –enable silverlight
Plugin silverlight5.1 is now enabled

I try to run a video in Netflix and it asks me to install Silverlight. I think I have followed every step listed in the blog. Even changed Chrome to use Windows Firefox 15. No luck.

Reply

Dale

I was able to get it to work with LinuxMint 16. It’s not as stable as I’d really like, but it’s better than watching House of Cards on the Wii. After installing User Agent Switcher I ran into problems with the Default User Agent resetting when I restarted the browser, then if Netflix detected the wrong one, it wouldn’t work, even if I changed. I had to edit my ~/.mozilla/firefox/mwad0hks.default/prefs.js. I added general.useragent.override.netflix.com with the string “Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:15.0) Gecko/20120427 Firefox/15.0a1″
but that didn’t work, so I copied it, pasted the same key and removed the netflix.com: user_pref(“general.useragent.override”, “Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:15.0) Gecko/20120427 Firefox/15.0a1″);
This allowed netflix to load a movie and House of Cards successfully. It isn’t robust enough to turn over to my 8 year old, but it’s good enough for me to execute. If only I could get it working in XBMC.

Danny S

I’m sorry that you’re having problems with that setup. I primarily use Chrome and haven’t had any issues with the extension there.

Reply

nutu

it was working on Chrome, but now started showing a message “ActiveX is disabled”, that need to be enabled in the IE settings; what is happening here?

Danny S

That’s very strange. Did you happen to choose IE for the user agent rather than Firefox?

nutu

yes, I selected IE 8and is showing the same message, any idea?

Thanks

Jon

I get this error on Firefox but the plugin works correctly on Chome / Chromium when also using User Agent Switcher plugin and selecting IE9 as the user agent.

Reply

pop

Unfortunately, this did not work for me. It appeared to install, but the third command
sudo pipelight-plugin –enable silverlight

generated this response:
sudo: pipelight-plugin: command not found

pop@pop-System-Product-Name:~/Desktop$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:pipelight/stable
[sudo] password for pop:

More info: https://launchpad.net/~pipelight/+archive/stable
Press [ENTER] to continue or ctrl-c to cancel adding it
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install pipelight-multi
gpg: keyring `/tmp/tmphew2mw/secring.gpg’ created
gpg: keyring `/tmp/tmphew2mw/pubring.gpg’ created
gpg: requesting key 25396B8E from hkp server keyserver.ubuntu.com
gpg: /tmp/tmphew2mw/trustdb.gpg: trustdb created
gpg: key 25396B8E: public key “Launchpad PPA for Pipelight Dev Team” imported
gpg: Total number processed: 1
gpg: imported: 1 (RSA: 1)
OK
pop@pop-System-Product-Name:~/Desktop$ sudo pipelight-plugin –enable silverlight
sudo: pipelight-plugin: command not found
pop@pop-System-Product-Name:~/Desktop$ sudo pipelight-plugin –enable silverlight
[sudo] password for pop:
sudo: pipelight-plugin: command not found
pop@pop-System-Product-Name:~/Desktop$

Reply

pop

Using xubuntu 13.04 now

Reply

Sindre

I’m having an issue with this. I use fedora 20 and everything went fine until i entered fullscreen mode in Netflix. The screen just turned black, I could still see the tabs in the browser and everything. But the Netflix movie was black.

Reply

Jo

I’m using Linux Mint 16 and Chrome. I can view the full Silverlight demo here http://www.iis.net/media/experiencesmoothstreaming.

However, on Netflix I only get audio, and no video.

Reply

Snif

I think install was ok, but Chrome complains it can’t load the silverlight plugin.

Why is silverlight required, isn’t Netflix using HTML5 now?

Reply

Selbo

OK tried all above, Netflix still wants me to enable ActiveX. Back to square one…..

Reply

Tomasz

This solution is not easy it is simplified, ELI5. Simple solution would be to get moonlight to work and if I am not mistaken long long time ago moonlight worked. Not necesserily with netflix but as a browser plugin. This website is disappointing.

Reply

Joao Brito

It worked for me, with Xubuntu and Firefox. But to make it work I had to use “User Agent Overrider” extension instead of “User Agent Switcher”. Tks a lot.

Inge

This worked for me as well with Linux Mint 16 and Firefox. Followed the steps and used the “User Agent Overrider” instead of the “User Agent Switcher”. The switcher would complain about Active X.

Reply

M Pinheiro

I keep getting either error code N8109 (which is related to Silverlight) or a message that the Silverlight plugin has crashed. Anyone else encountering this issue? (Used Default User Agent with Windows Firefox 25). I tried out a Silverlight test animation here (http://bubblemark.com/) and Silverlight 2 and 3 worked, but not 1.

I too would like to know why Silverlight is still required if there’s an HTML5 option!

Yang

Yes, “User Agent Overrider” works perfectly.

DO NOT USE “User Agent Switcher” for Ubuntu 14.04.

hvb

“User Agent Overrider” works great! Thanks Inge!

Reply

Bart

I got pipelight installed and the user agent switcher installed, but it just chimes up about ‘ActiveX disabled…’ on both firefox and on Chrome.

Any suggestions?

nutu

same for me, showing the same message

Reply

B_Dauterive

Any idea on how to get it installed on Crunchbang Waldorf ? I tried but my ancient HP laptop kicked up a hissy-fit.

Reply

Wantoo Sevin

Brilliant. I hadn’t heard of Pipelight!

Reply

Tim

How about getting Netflix to work on a raspberry pi??
I’d really love that :)

Reply

Dan

This looks good, but I’m being asked for and at the bottom of a TruType core fonts for the Web EULA. I have no idea how to signal that I have read it. I’ve tried clicking on it, enter, alt-enter, ctrl-enter, etc. What do I do to okay this eula?

Dan

That should say “I’m being asked for an OK”

Nate

Press TAB, then Enter.

Reply

Linux Blows

SOLUTION:

Uninstall Linux and Install Windows – If you want something to actually WORK!

Kaiden (Someone who understands linux)

So, What do you want me to do? Pay 100$ for a new windows copy on my computer that i built from scratch? Nope, not gunna happen.

Linux rules!

Haha, Linux works great! Your brain, unfortunately, does not!

Reply

Nate

Great success with Mint / Chrome / Chrome UA Spoofer / “Firefox 15″

Reply

TheAtomicGoose

I’m on Kubuntu and I got the error “Your system is missing a copy of /usr/lib/pipelight/libpipelight.so at /usr/lib/pipelight/libpipelight-silverlight5.1.so”. I checked /usr/lib/pipelight and libpipelight.so existed in the same directory as libpipelight-silverlight5.1.so. Does anyone know what the problem here might be?

Reply

Vivek Saxena

I get the ActiveX error from both Firefox and Chrome on Fedora 20 on my laptop, when I follow your instructions.

Reply

TrIPpY

Great guide . Using the user agent switcher to Firefox 15.0a1 (Win 7 64) and silverlight test on microsoft site says version 5.xxxxxxxxxx. But if click a movie i just see a black page. What might this be?

Reply

Kath

Exact same issue as TrIPpY. Can watch a test silverlight video but in Netflix I only see a black page. Using Linux Mint and I have tried user agent switching in both Chrome and FF. I thought I was so close.

Reply

orimot

Pipelight is included in the new R4W Debian based replacement for windows release. It uses a different user agent alternative and it’s pre-set so I didn’t have to play around with getting it to work right.

The User Agent Switcher in the article just left me with a black screen, which turned out to be user agent related. If you are getting a black screen or it gives you an ambiguious failure messsage, try a different user agent switcher.

Reply

matt

I finally got netflix to work for me in Kubuntu with the following user agent: “Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 5.1; rv:31.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/31.0″ – Hope that helps!

Cavaticus

That fixed it! Thank you!

Reply

Paoloz

Hi,
another bit of info, on Fedora 20, “User Agent Switcher” was not working!
Using instead the extension “Agent Override” it works !

Reply

Miakoda

It worked., I watched one episode, and now it no longer works. Uninstalling pipelight and reinstalling and reenabling does nothing. It just always shoes me, repeatedly, this little dialog about installing. It flashes on the screen for a split second, goes away, flashes again, never runs.

Reply

jason walters

After a couple hours of frustration this tutorial worked! Whatever agent you listed wasnt in the drop down menu so I picked the nearest one which was windows/firefox26 and it worked perfectly. Thanks a ton.

me

Follow tuporial. Use firefox/agentoverrider. goto netflocks. Get message to enable siverlight. Click it. Works. Thanks all.

Reply

Jeffrey H

pipelight pdoesn’t work with chrome beta :'( only the stable version. Anyone know why this is?

Reply

John

Pipelight no longer works with Chrome v35 and higher. Use an older version or a different browser. Source: https://answers.launchpad.net/pipelight/+question/249016

Reply

Denise

Did not work for me :(

Reply

Sriram C.

Working superbly for me on Ubunt 14.04 and Firefox. I used “User Agent Overrider” extension instead of “User Agent Switcher” and selected WIndows-Firefox26. Thanks!!

Yang

yes, “User Agent Overrider” works perfectly.

DO NOT USE “User Agent Switcher” for Ubuntu 14.04.

Satch

they’re tight, it works perfectly with firefox and “user agent overrider” but with chrome that’s another story.

I’m using ubuntu 14.04 btw

Reply

Sara

Is there any way to make this work on Raspbian? I tried to follow the Debian instructions but it failed after I added your repository to the /etc/apt-sources.list (which on the pi is /etc/apt/sources.list) and tried to run apt-get update, it said something about an invalid /etc/apt/sources.list file.

Reply

wow_wow

I got silverlight 1 and 2 working allright, but not silverlight 3. then I get a broken-up screen. the same happens with Netflix, so apparently it uses silverlight 3…

I am on linux mint petra and ff 29; set user agent overrider to windows/ff29.

anyone?

Reply

Tyler Collier

What is the user agent string for “Firefox 15 Windows”? I used “Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; rv:15.0) Gecko/20121011 Firefox/15.0.1″ which I got at http://www.useragentstring.com/Firefox15.0.1_id_19713.php but it didn’t work for me on Firefox or Chrome.

Reply

Tyler Collier

I used Firefox 24/Windows: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:24.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/24.0 and it worked in Firefox.

Reply

Tyler Collier

Oops, sorry, I used Firefox 15/Windows: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:15.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/15.0 just replacing 24 with 15.

Reply

luis

thank you so much kid. keep up the good work

Reply

Peter

Fedora 20, FF 28.

Used User Agent Overrider. Works brilliantly, thank you!

Reply

Jim

I’ve been trying to get MSN Money Portfolio Manager to work forever. Moonlight never did it. This does it. My very sincere thanks.

Reply

anon

Can anyone tell me if captions work under this pipelight solution?

Reply

BlackTongue

it still doesn’t work. no matter what i install silverlight will not run. pipelight doesn’t show up as a plugin, and it just will not load. says it install but when i did system check it said “FAILURE”

Reply

Rey

I was having issues with a different silverlight only website which was forcing me to use a vm to acccess. This here set of instructions did the bom diggity trick. Well Done!

Reply

Chris

I get a playback error N8109, which is a silverlight problem. I don’t know enough about Linux to fix this. There’s probably something I missed.

Reply

NMM

Thanks for the tip. I’m running Linux Mint 17 64 bit and thought I’d give it a try. After a lot of fiddling, I got it working (mostly) in Firefox. Chromium 34 seems to also ignore Silverlight as well. IMO, this configuration will work (unreliably) for a narrow audience, and the Pipelight install is pretty ugly. (Now I need to get all that cruft off and revert back to a lean/mean system again.)

Users considering this fix who are not very comfortable with Linux and their browsers will probably get stuck very quickly if things don’t work swimmingly the first time. And even those who are successful will be sweating every OS, browser, Pipelight and/or Netflix change.

Although the move toward HTML5 is probably a good one from the pragmatic standpoint, I think there are enough major providers out there to tell Hollywood to pack sand with their DRM requirements and ridiculous demands from the very people driving most of their business.

If Internet providers could take some short-term losses, the “picture” would be clear in pretty short order. Hollywood & the RIAA NEED companies like Google/YouTube, Netflix, Pandora, Facebook and even Microsoft WAY more than the reverse. If there were a consensus against the madness of DRM and copyright maximalism, most of this crap would go away.

If I want movies on my laptop, my choice now is to (with trivial ease and a little caution) get any content I want for free in the format I want it -or- find much more productive ways to spend my time. Hmmm… Time to strap on my backpack and get into some mountain wilderness! :)

Again, thanks for posting this. It was fun testing this.

NMM

Reply

Dr.Dave

This worked for me

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ehoover/compholio

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

Reply

bob

This broke my Mint 17 Firefox setup. Had to remove everthing, and re-install Firefox.

The netflix-desktop worked a lot better than this…

Reply

Marco_Polo

This worked for me on Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon. I used User Agent Overider. The –system-check failed on missing libraries but Netflix still worked. The only issue I have is overheating which is purely a hardware issue with HP dv5 laptops.

Reply

Sombra

Note, I am going to assume that the Silverlight plugin is ns-based. The Chromium project has removed support for the ns infrastructure as of build 35+. So in effect, this breaks the project in Chrome.

Reply

crabbyapple

Thank you, this worked!!!

Reply

GarryB

What about chromium u may have better luck

Reply

waynebob

Netflix is easily added to Linux Lite automatically just by selecting a number in the “install additional software” section and also comes in LXLE as a browser tab. I am having trouble with multiple monitor use so am still poking around for the perfect operating system. What fun we have.

Reply

Kansas

For the purpose of watching Netflix videos, the pipelight workaround still doesn’t work. I got everything installed, put in a user switch agent and bam, tells me to install Silverlight. Safari for Mac OS X already has an HTML 5 player so a mainstream one is in the works. Till then I think the Netflix desktop app will have to do.

Reply

John

Works in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS; Firefox 30.0 for Ubuntu canonical 1.0 using User-Agent-Overrider set at Windows/Firefox 29.

After installation of Pipelight using apt-get I also ran the following command:

sudo pipelight-plugin –update

…and then continued with the User-Agent_overrider installation and config in the GUI with Firefox.

Note: pluginload and wineserver use a fair bit of CPU resources–like all of it–and compiz is also showing increased CPU use (reference: top). This is on an AMD Athlon II X2 220 dual-core, Nvidia 6150SE and 4GiB RAM in an eMachines box somebody gave me that I refurbed.

Thanks for the article. It was very useful.

Reply

IceCold

Thanks so much! It works. I still don’t understand why Netflix doesn’t natively support it but at least there seems to be a stable fix.

As per: https://bugs.launchpad.net/pipelight/+bug/1213584

User Agent Switcher doesn’t seem to be working with Firefox (for me like others) but User Agent Override works perfect.

Thanks again for the great tutorial!

Reply

RussL

The Ubuntu instructions worked for my Mint16 distro.

Reply

Philip Uglow

I am running 64 bit ubuntu and I get a screen that says “Install the Microsoft Silverlight plug-in now — it only takes a minute” . Unfortunately this is a windows exe file and I can’t launch it.

Reply

El

Finally got it working. couldn’t get it to work on chrome with Ubuntu 14.04 but it’s ok with mozilla and user agent overrider :-)

Thanks for the instructions

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