Entertainment Linux

How to Watch Netflix Natively on Linux

Christian Cawley Updated 02-06-2020

Netflix has been available natively on Linux for some time, but it hasn’t always been easy to watch.

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Without the right setup, it’s not going to work. Fortunately, with the right software, Netflix will run on any current Linux distribution.

Follow the steps below to watch videos from your Netflix library on Linux.

The Evolution of Netflix on Linux

At one time, accessing Netflix on Linux was difficult. A specific version of Google Chrome was needed, complete with Encrypted Media Extension (EME) support. Chrome additionally required a specific version of Mozilla Network Security Services and a User Agent Switcher extension. (Changing the User Agent How to Change Your Browser's User Agent and Trick Websites Here's how to change your user agent string (so your browser can pretend to be something else) and why it can be useful. Read More is a method of tricking a website that you’re using a different operating system or browser).

Watch Netflix on Linux

Today, all you need to do is open netflix.com in Google Chrome and log into your account. Within seconds you’ll be able to seamlessly watch Netflix content. Additionally, you have the option to turn Netflix into a Desktop Application via Google Chrome’s Web-App tools (see below).

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Which Browsers Play Netflix on Linux?

For the best results playing Netflix in your browser on Linux, stick to Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

While other browsers might boast Netflix support (such as Vivaldi or Opera) Chrome and Firefox are the most reliable.

Google Chrome

If Chrome isn’t already installed on your Linux distribution you can find it at www.google.com/chrome/.

No additional software or plugins are available for Chrome to stream Netflix videos. Simply visit the site as explained above and enjoy. Other Chromium-based browsers should also work, but your mileage may vary.

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If Google Chrome isn’t to your taste, rely on it as a backup when your preferred browser won’t play Netflix. Usually this is only a short-term hiccup that can be fixed a day or so later with a new update.

Mozilla Firefox

Access your Netflix watchlist on Linux

If your distro has Mozilla Firefox preinstalled you can also watch Linux on Netflix. However, some tweaking is required.

  • First, ensure you have the latest version of Firefox installed.
  • Next, visit netflix.com and sign into your account.
  • You’ll spot a message at the top of the screen, advising you that additional software is required. Click Enable DRM.
  • Wait while the additional software is installed.
  • Refresh the page if necessary, then play your chosen video.

If Netflix won’t work on Firefox on Linux, check the following:

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  • In your browser address bar, enter about:preferences#content.
  • On the General tab, look for Digital Rights Management (DRM) Content.
  • Ensure the box next to Play DRM-controlled Content is checked.
  • Open a new tab then enter about:addons.
  • Find Plugins then confirm that OpenH264 and Widevine are Enabled (set as Always Activate).

Configure Widevine to watch Netflix on Linux in Firefox

  • Finally, if necessary, restart Firefox.

You should now be able to play Netflix videos in Firefox.

Want to Watch US Netflix on Linux? You Need a VPN

With Netflix available through your browser, you’ll be able to access your library, view recommendations, and use the service exactly how you might through your TV, game console, or mobile app.

But if you need to access a Netflix library from another country (such as Netflix US), you will need a VPN. A virtual private network that supports Netflix lets you fool the website as to your whereabouts. So, if you’re in France, select a VPN server in the USA to access Netflix’s US library.

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Not all VPNs support video streaming through Netflix. Check our list of the best VPN services The Best VPN Services We've compiled a list of what we consider to be the best Virtual Private Network (VPN) service providers, grouped by premium, free, and torrent-friendly. Read More to get started.

Is There a Netflix Desktop App for Linux?

At one point you could install an app for Netflix. This unofficial tool was in reality a Windows app and came bundled with Wine. This no longer works, but you can create a Desktop Application on Linux using Chrome’s “Add to desktop” feature.

  • Open Google Chrome
  • Go to netflix.com
  • Login to your account
  • Click the Chrome menu button (three dots in the top right of the Chrome browser)
  • Select More tools > Add to desktop.
  • In the dialog box click Add.
  • Check Open as window.
  • Click OK to confirm.

Now you should have a shortcut on your desktop. Double click to launch Netflix in its own Chrome window.

Watch Netflix on Linux With Kodi

Another way you can watch Netflix on your Linux PC is via the Kodi media center software. This comes with some limitations, however—there is currently no support for 4K streaming. You’ll be limited instead to a maximum of 1080p.

If you have Kodi installed you can use an unofficial Netflix add-on to access your account. Note that this requires providing your account credentials to a third-party app—another good reason to be using a VPN.

Start by installing Kodi in the terminal. Update and upgrade first:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

You’re ready to install Kodi:

sudo apt install kodi

Next, download the repository for the Netflix addon.

Download: CastagnaIT for Kodi (Free)

Save this to your Linux PC. In Kodi, open the Add-ons browser and select Install from zip file.

Browse in Kodi to the download location and install the repository file repository.castagnait-1.0.x.zip.

Click Back to find the add-ons browser again. Select Install from Repository and find the CastagnaIT repo. Browse this for the Netflix add-on and Install.

Ubuntu users should be done here. However, distros from other branches should install these tools:

sudo apt install build-essential python-dev python-pip python-setuptools

pip install --user pycryptodomex

You can now launch the Netflix add-on in Kodi, sign into your account, and access all the movies and shows.

Netflix Natively and Easily on Linux!

Thanks to all the efforts on various sides we now have Netflix natively on Linux without applying any workarounds. You just need a modern browser, or you can watch Netflix using a Kodi add-on.

Need to watch Netflix’s US library? In that case, you need a VPN. We recommend ExpressVPN, which offers a 49% discount to MakeUseOf readers.

Looking for something to watch? Use these tools to find movies and TV shows on Netflix 5 Helpful Tools to Find Movies & TV Shows to Watch on Netflix "What should I watch on Netflix?" We've all been there! Here are some useful recommendation sites and apps you can use. Read More .

Related topics: Google Chrome, Kodi, Linux Tips, Media Server, Mozilla Firefox, Netflix.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Mike Walsh
    June 3, 2020 at 12:26 pm

    NetFlix support has really come on by leaps & bounds under Linux. Virtually every major browser....AND most of the Chromium 'clones' and Mozilla re-spins.....will play it natively now.

    I package a whole load of different browsers as 'portables' for the Puppy Linux community, and ensuring Widevine support is crucial as far as I'm concerned. Chrome; Iron; Opera; Brave; Yandex; Firefox (both Quantum & ESR variants); the European Cliqz browser.....these ALL play NetFlix OOTB. About the only one that won't is Pale Moon, but the guys at MoonChild Productions are basing Pale Moon on the older Goanna-based UXP platform, and have categorically stated that they have NO intentions of ever implementing DRM support in their browser.

    (*shrug*)

    I used to make use of the ability Chrome had in older versions to start a second instance of the browser for a single site as a desktop 'app'. It's similar to what Christian mentioned above, but in modern versions the browser must already be up-and-running for this to work. My NetFlix 'app' would run by itself, without even firing-up the browser, but this ability has since been removed from the code-base at the Chromium Projects.....

    Kind of annoying, but I guess this is what's termed "progress".

  2. gugu2077
    October 15, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    Works on Firefox 62 on Manjaro by setting the User Agent to Chrome - Linux.

  3. Rocky Lincourt
    March 8, 2017 at 2:49 am

    Currently Firefox 49+ on Linux can stream Netflix natively; but you have to Enable DRM for HTML5 Playback, and use an User Agent Switcher to trick Firefox into thinking that it's Running Natively under Windows.

  4. joshua
    June 19, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    please helpi must be missing something it is not letting me use netflix on ubuntu 16.04. i have a hp elitebook 8540w. can someone just remote in or something?

    • Michael Tunnell
      June 20, 2016 at 10:12 pm

      Your laptop looks like it is 64bit so all you need is Google Chrome and a Netflix account and you should be good to go. Please provide more info if still having issues.

      • Anonymous
        June 20, 2016 at 10:25 pm

        That's the problem. It's also not letting me put chrome on it as well. I spent 3 hours trying to figure it out. Maybe you can remote assist? Email me if you can help. Becomethemiracle1@gmail.com

        • Rocky Lincourt
          March 8, 2017 at 2:55 am

          Google Chrome only runs on a 64-bit Linux Operating System, if you have a 32-bit Linux system you have to configure your Firefox browser.

  5. Siren Watcher
    June 4, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    An easy way to get around this on linux without downloading Chrome is to download an addon that tells websites that firefox is chrome. The firefox addon is called, User Agent Switcher. I just got netflix working fine on firefox under Linux... always a good thing avoiding chrome if you can. This seems to be a decent middle ground.

    • Michael Tunnell
      June 20, 2016 at 10:14 pm

      So you are saying that Netflix works in Firefox on Linux yet Firefox doesn't have support for HTML5 DRM decoding and you didn't use something like Freshplayer to compensate? I just don't think merely changing the useragent would be enough because Firefox still doesnt have decoding tools for HTML5 DRM on Linux. Please, confirm.

      • Anton
        January 12, 2017 at 11:19 pm

        Can confirm, this worked for me. Probably firefox has updated to be able to parse DRM, but netflix hasn't updated to remove the help page redirect. In my setup, I changed the user agent from linux to windows 10, and checked the box in preferences that says "play DRM content" and the site works fine.

        • Michael Tunnell
          January 12, 2017 at 11:47 pm

          You are correct, Anton. Netflix in Firefox on Linux is possible at this moment. That feature was added to Firefox 49 in September 2016. My article was released in September 2015 and the comment that you replied to was June 2016. My statement about the lack of support was accurate at the time of my commenting and the original commenter had mad a mistake. Unfortunately, it is not possible for me to update the article to reflect the new state of Netflix in Firefox on Linux.

  6. Anonymous
    June 4, 2016 at 9:52 am

    A bunch of us on the Puppy Linux Forum managed to get NetFlix running in Chromium itself, since from version 49 onwards, EME is now 'on' by default. Previously, you had to dig around in 'chrome://flags' in order to locate it, and then to enable it.

    We haven't yet managed it in SlimJet; it could be a case of adding EME, too.....as well as the libwidevine modules. We're working on it, though..!

    • Michael Tunnell
      June 20, 2016 at 10:15 pm

      Please explain to me the point of using Chromium with the Chrome proprietary features rather than just using Chrome.

      • Anonymous
        June 21, 2016 at 4:39 pm

        Oh, there's probably no 'point' at all.....except that some of our forum members hate Google 'nosey' features in Chrome with a passion.....yet they still want to watch NetFlix.....

  7. Jake
    April 25, 2016 at 4:36 am

    This article is useless for 32-bit users.

  8. Anonymous
    March 19, 2016 at 12:55 am

    For me, I found many of the solutions offered seemed to offer varying results. While most worked well for Netflix, unfortunately they wouldn't work so well for other local ondemand services.

    The solution, at least for me, works right across the board. Infact, if it plays out in the Windows version of Firefox, it seems to play well this way on Linux.

    Install 'playonlinux', most repos have it. Once installed, from the 'Internet' nemu, choose and download Firefox for Windows. Let PlayOnLinux do it's thing. When it's finished, you can now launch the Firefox Windows edition and watch from there.

    I found it works so well, that I renamed Firefox (Windows) to 'TV OnDemand', set up a speed dial as homepage with all my desired OnDemand streams, including Netflix. It also now appears in my favourites menu and on my panel.

    I figure, if you're going to install wine in part for just Netflix, you might as well go the whole hog for all services. Best of all, you get the highest resolution possible - it appears not to be capped.

    As far as the downsides go, it takes a little longer to launch Firefox for Windows than the native version, and ofcourse, any potential security concerns while running wine as Windows. But one just needs to be aware of the risks and watch accordingly.

    Ofcourse you'll still need a VPN to view content from outside your geo zone, but no user agent would be required.

  9. Anonymous
    March 6, 2016 at 4:38 am

    Chrome has stopped supporting 32bit. So now for linux, we have netflix on an unsupported browser (no security updates?) or not at all.

    I do not want to replace both my 32bit systems, which work perfectly well, just for netflix.

    So come on Firefox an Do Something!

    • Michael Tunnell
      June 20, 2016 at 10:21 pm

      32bit is being phased out in many many areas and in my opinion totally should be. As for Netflix, I sadly have zero hope in Mozilla to support it for Linux. Mozilla let Adobe write the support for Netflix for Firefox and of course Adobe doesn't care even remotely about Linux so they made it solely for Windows Firefox users. Until someone else is making a decoder, it's not going to happen.

  10. Lukasz
    February 29, 2016 at 9:19 am

    According to Netflix, the resolution is capped to 720p on Chrome (the only browsers without a cap being IE, Edge, and Safari). Presumably, the cap still applies to this desktop application?

    • Michael Tunnell
      June 20, 2016 at 10:18 pm

      The desktop application is just a webapp using Chrome, so yes same thing applies.

  11. Jack
    February 28, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    Doesn't work anymore. (as of Jan 2016)
    Get an error
    Whoops, something went wrong...

    Missing Component

    We cannot find all the required components to play Netflix on this device. Please visit chrome://components, locate the WidevineCdm component, and click the "Check for update" button.

    Can't update since widevine is not available .

    • Michael Tunnell
      June 20, 2016 at 10:19 pm

      Works fine for me, do you still have this issue?

  12. max
    January 8, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    Doesn't work anymore on chrome. And there's no netflix addon for kodi. please update

    • Michael Tunnell
      June 20, 2016 at 10:17 pm

      It does work on Chrome just fine, used it last night. If you have 32bit machine then that could be an issue.

  13. ooohooohoooh
    November 15, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    use kodi for low end machines, it has an addon for netflix, and will handle the streaming much better

    • Michael Tunnell
      June 20, 2016 at 10:17 pm

      Netflix on Kodi requires a streaming service to restream Netflix to you.

  14. Anonymous
    September 14, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    I would Love to be able to do either netflix, and or Hulu on Ubuntu 14.04, 32 bit.
    I rul a diablotek U310 1.8GB atom with 2 GB of memory, you failed to mention, You must rul a 2.33GB processer with 4.0 GB of Memory I hearZorin & Mint will allow me to do it>
    does any7body Know how?

    • Michael Tunnell
      September 16, 2015 at 1:48 am

      Chrome is notoriously bloated and will not run on low-end hardware. Unfortunately, Chrome is unavoidable though in this situation until Netflix or Firefox gets it together and fixes the issue.

      Zorin nor Mint will not do anything other than what Ubuntu does in this scenario because both Zorin and Linux Mint are based on Ubuntu so they have the same cores.

      Hulu is possible now though thanks to a PPA made by Martin Wimpress, the founder of Ubuntu MATE.

      sudo add-apt-repository ppa:flexiondotorg/hal-flash
      sudo apt update
      sudo apt install libhal1-flash

      Then reboot your system, this is not strictly necessary but is advised to ensure that browser and plugin processes quit correctly.

      Note* - this will fix Hulu in Firefox, for any Linux distro, but it will also fix Amazon Prime Video as well. :)

      • jymm
        November 25, 2015 at 12:20 pm

        Have you tried SlimJet instead of Chrome? It is Chrome without the Google bloating.

  15. Anonymous
    September 14, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    Correct. :)

  16. Anonymous
    September 14, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    Just waiting for openelec support now...

    • Michael Tunnell
      September 14, 2015 at 3:02 pm

      If OpenELEC, and of course Kodi, had support for Netflix and similar services I would be so freaking excited. :-)

  17. Anonymous
    September 14, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    While Netflix does work natively in Chrome on Linux, it's unfortunately artificially limited to 720p @ 3kbps, which you can verify yourself by pressing ctrl-alt-shift-d to show the debug overlay while playing any video.

    Other clients get 1080p and higher at better bitrates.

    • Michael Tunnell
      September 16, 2015 at 1:16 am

      > Other clients get 1080p and higher at better bitrates.

      Such as? Are you referring to other platforms?

  18. Anonymous
    September 10, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I'm guessing "Chromium" is the browser?

    • Michael Tunnell
      September 10, 2015 at 10:05 pm

      @George Lowry, no, Chromium is not the browser you want for this. Chromium is the open source version of Chrome, it is the foundation of Chrome, Opera, and Maxthon but none of them except for Chrome can actually utilize native playback for Netflix because only Chrome has the EME support.

      You can get Google Chrome directly from Google. http://www.google.com/chrome/ then choose the .deb or .rpm that fits your system.

  19. Michael Tunnell
    September 10, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    > "Actually, no. I, (And others.), have been using / viewing Netflix content in Firefox with Linux Mint since 2012."

    You are referring to the Netflix Desktop from the "compholio" PPA and that is not "Netflix Natively on Linux" that is a WINE wrapped Windows version of Firefox with wrapped Silverlight.

  20. Anonymous
    September 10, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    "At the time of writing, yes, Google Chrome is currently the only browser that provides playback of Netflix content on Linux."

    Actually, no. I, (And others.), have been using / viewing Netflix content in Firefox with Linux Mint since 2012. It's not hard to setup, and also is a desktop application that works perfectly. (Actually the HD content runs better and is nicer to watch than Amazon video.) Those of us who chose not to use Chrome, it is an easy alternative and gives us the option of only running the one browser. That said, I look forward to Firefox's full implementation of EME in Netflix.

    • Michael Tunnell
      September 10, 2015 at 9:26 pm

      > “Actually, no. I, (And others.), have been using / viewing Netflix content in Firefox with Linux Mint since 2012.”

      You are referring to the Netflix Desktop from the “compholio” PPA and that is not “Netflix Natively on Linux” that is a WINE wrapped Windows version of Firefox with wrapped Silverlight.