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

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:

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

41 Comments - Write a Comment

0 votes
Reply

dd

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

0 votes

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.

0 votes
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)

0 votes

Danny S

Thanks for the tip, Denis!

0 votes
Reply

Mike

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

0 votes

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. :)

0 votes
Reply

Mike

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

0 votes
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.

0 votes
Reply

ryanvade

I think the solution is HTML 5

0 votes
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.

0 votes
Reply

David

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

0 votes
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

0 votes

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.

0 votes
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.

0 votes

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.

0 votes
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?

0 votes

Danny S

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

0 votes

nutu

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

Thanks

0 votes

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.

0 votes
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$

0 votes
0 votes
Reply

pop

Using xubuntu 13.04 now

0 votes
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.

0 votes
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.

0 votes
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?

0 votes
Reply

Selbo

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

0 votes
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.

0 votes
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.

0 votes

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.

0 votes
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!

0 votes
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?

0 votes

nutu

same for me, showing the same message

0 votes
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.

0 votes
Reply

Wantoo Sevin

Brilliant. I hadn’t heard of Pipelight!

0 votes
Reply

Tim

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

0 votes
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?

0 votes

Dan

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

0 votes

Nate

Press TAB, then Enter.

0 votes
Reply

Linux Blows

SOLUTION:

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

0 votes
Reply

Nate

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

Your comment