The End of Pipelight: How You Can Keep It Running on Linux

Austin Luong 07-08-2017

While Linux is awesome, not being able to run Windows programs can be a bit of a problem at times. Not having Microsoft Office on Linux How to Install Microsoft Office on Linux Microsoft Office on Linux is possible. We cover three methods for getting Office working inside of a Linux environment. Read More , for example, can be a deal breaker for many people wanting to make the switch. Pipelight helped to solve this problem to some extent, letting you install Windows only browser plugins such as Silverlight on Linux. But this program is now deprecated.


What Is Pipelight?

Pipelight lets you use Windows plugins on Linux web browsers. It does this by running Wine How to Run Windows Apps & Games with Linux Wine Is there any way to get Windows software working on Linux? One answer is to use Wine, but while it can be very useful, it probably should only be your last resort. Here's why. Read More behind the scenes, which recreates the Windows environment under Linux (in turn running the plugin). As such, Pipelight is really a wrapper for the most part. It’s responsible for getting the plugins you want and running them when needed.

Once designed only to run Microsoft’s Silverlight under Linux, its scope grew to include many other Windows plugins. Installing and updating them was quite simple to do, with a single command for each.

pipelight options

How Did Pipelight Become Deprecated?

Browser plugins, such as Adobe Flash, have been on the decline for some time now. With the advent of new web features, they’re slowly being phased out. Many web browsers Are You Using the Best Web Browser for Linux in 2016? Using the "wrong" browser can lead to a lot of unnecessary headaches, wasted productivity, and even lost data. So which browser is the best for your Linux computer? Let's find out. Read More these days don’t even support plugins (at least, NPAPI ones, which Pipleight uses), with Firefox dropping all but Flash after version 52. Others have done so much much earlier before, such as Chrome The Web Just Became More Secure: Google Drops Support for Java When Java was first released in 1995, it was revolutionary. But now, it's safe to say that Java has lost its shine, and Google is about to drop support for it in Chrome. Read More .

This meant that even people who wanted to use plugins from Windows (e.g. for playing games written for Adobe Shockwave or Unity Web) could not do so very easily. These days, only Webkit-based browsers such as GNOME Web (Epiphany) 5 Reasons to Start Using GNOME Epiphany Web Apps The GNOME Web browser ("Epiphany") can integrate web apps to your desktop. Here's how to make your own web apps in Linux. Read More really support NPAPI plugins, like Java for example.


epiphany npapi

The problem was only worsened by constant updates from Adobe Flash How to Download Embedded Flash Videos and Music With a Browser You can get embedded videos and music using Flash video downloaders, which plug into your browser. This article explains how. Read More and the like. Pipelight needed to change along with the plugins, reinstalling them when needed. The maintainer of Pipelight found this to be quite hard to keep up with. Put shortly, these two factors led to its deprecation. While you can still use Pipelight, you won’t receive any updates to your plugins — a large security issue Browser Plugins - One of the Biggest Security Problems on the Web Today [Opinion] Web browsers have become much more secure and hardened against attack over the years. The big browser security problem these days is browser plugins. I don’t mean the extensions that you install in your browser... Read More .

What You Can Do

While it’s a shame that such a useful program is no longer being updated, it’s actually not too much of a problem. For example, there’s no need to use Pipelight to install Adobe Flash How to Stop Auto-Playing Flash and HTML5 Videos in Chrome Auto-playing videos can be obnoxious. Here's how you can stop auto-playing Flash and HTML5 videos in Chrome. Read More — the Linux browser plugin is now being updated, similar to Windows and macOS.

linux flash player


Also, the need for plugins has been going down very slowly. You can even use Netflix without Silverlight 5 Ways to Watch Netflix on Linux without Silverlight Netflix depends on Silverlight; Silverlight doesn't play well with Linux. But Linux users have an easy-to-use workaround. Read More these days, thanks to how the web is changing. So the first question to ask before doing anything is whether you actually need to use Windows plugins or not.

Continue Using Pipelight

One option is to just install Pipelight as usual, to view the content you want. While it won’t provide any updates to your plugins, this may not be much of a problem for things like Unity Web Player, which are themselves discontinued. That said, actually installing it now will be a bit of a challenge.

This is because Pipelight also took down its official package repositories Your Guide to Ubuntu Repositories and Package Management Read More . In other words, for many people, the only way of now getting it is by compiling it from source (the code for Pipelight is still online). This includes most major Linux operating systems Which Linux Operating Systems We Use and Why It's one thing to recommend a Linux distro. It's another to show you which ones we actually use on a daily basis. Here are the ones we prefer and why! Read More , from Debian and even Fedora. Amusingly, FreeBSD Linux vs. BSD: Which Should You Use? Both are based on Unix, but that's where the similarities end. Here's everything you need to know about the differences between Linux and BSD. Read More can still install Pipelight normally, since they host Pipelight themselves.

freebsd pipelight


If you do go this route, you should keep your guard up! Since Pipelight will no longer update your plugins, you should use something like click-to-play How To Stop Auto-playing Flash And HTML5 Videos In Firefox Does auto-play video drive you mad? We'll talk you through the best ways to stop auto-playing videos in your Firefox browser. Read More to run only the content you want. That way, you’ll be protected from plugin exploits and the like.

Use Wine Directly

Pipelight is just a wrapper for the most part — Wine How to Run Windows Apps & Games with Linux Wine Is there any way to get Windows software working on Linux? One answer is to use Wine, but while it can be very useful, it probably should only be your last resort. Here's why. Read More does most of the heavy lifting. As such, you can get the same Pipelight effect if you just use Wine. You’ll have to jump through a few hoops to get things working though.

For starters, you can’t just install any version of Wine. You’ll need their Staging branch, the build which Pipelight used to run their plugins on. Luckily, you don’t need to compile this — the Wine Project provides packages for many Linux operating systems, if they’re not in your repos already.

wine staging


Once you’ve done this, all you need to do is install the plugins you want, similar to Windows. Keep in mind that you’ll also need an appropriate Windows browser The Best Web Browsers for Windows What is your default web browser? Even though we're spoiled for choice, the majority of us stick to the tried and tested major players. What are better alternatives for resource use, speed, and security? Read More to get them running. I recommend using the ESR (Extended Support Release) version of Firefox. It still has support for all NPAPI plugins (but this will change past version 52).

Some Adjustments Required

However, you’ll need to tweak a few settings to get it working. First of all, open up your Wine settings using this command:


Navigate to Graphics > Window Settings > Emulate a virtual desktop. Enable this. Without this option, Firefox fails to display itself properly. Your desktop environment Which Linux Desktop Environment Best Suits Your Personality? What kind of computer user are you? Do you leave icons scattered across your desktop? Do you prefer to work in one uncluttered application? Let's find out which Linux desktop environment suits you best. Read More might mess with the way Wine displays its windows. Using a virtual desktop avoids this problem.

wine virtual desktop

Having done this, navigate to your Wine folder, then go to users > [Username] > Application Data > Mozilla Firefox > Profiles > [Profile] > prefs.js. Place these lines inside it:

user_pref("browser.tabs.remote.autostart.2", false);
user_pref("dom.ipc.plugins.enabled", false);

You may have to start up Firefox first, before you can see the prefs.js file.

The first line disables Firefox’s multi-process feature, since it doesn’t work under Wine. The second line disables the browser’s plugin sandbox What's A Sandbox, And Why Should You Be Playing in One Highly-connective programs can do a lot, but they're also an open invitation for bad hackers to strike. To prevent strikes from becoming successful, a developer would have to spot and close every single hole in... Read More . Sadly, Firefox under Wine crashes if it’s enabled, so it needs to go. If you find that these lines don’t work, check to see if there are any duplicate lines in the file and remove them.

wine firefox

With all that out of the way, you should now be able to download whatever plugins you like, and run them in Wine. Keep in mind that there may be bugs!

wine shockwave

Do You Really Need It?

If you’re not satisfied with how your Windows plugins are behaving under Wine or Pipelight, you could always run them in a virtual machine 7 Practical Reasons to Start Using a Virtual Machine What are virtual machines used for? Here are some practical benefits and uses for virtual machines that you can try right now. Read More . While it might be a bit slower, and take up more space, they’ll be guaranteed to work.

But with all the work you need to go through, you need to ask: is it really worth it? A lot of content these days are completely plugin free, with only things such as old games and businesses really requiring them. It might be easier to find an alternative way of viewing your content, rather than trying to stick with something like Pipelight.

Even Adobe Flash Adobe Is Finally Killing Flash... in 2020 Adobe has announced it's killing Flash. This is it, with Flash going away for good. No comebacks, no last-minute reprieves, gone but not forgotten. Read More , one of the most well known browser plugins out there is on a slow decline. In fact, it will be deprecated by 2020. Perhaps the end of Pipelight was meant to be.

What plugins do you still rely on, if any?

Related topics: Adobe Flash, Linux, Microsoft Silverlight, Wine.

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  1. Alex
    August 9, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    I still need pipelight for SkyGo (at least here in Germany). With one of the last articles on here I´m now able to use it within Chrome. So thanks for that.
    Let´s hope it stays this way a little longer.