Watch netflix on ubuntu desktop

In a previous blog post we provided a some instructions on how to watch netflix on ubuntu desktop by installing netflix desktop, although that solution worked pretty well it is a little clunky in that it enables you to use Silverlight inside a Windows version of Firefox.  It also isn’t entirely user friendly and the application has some little quirks, which could get annoying, for instance the account details links was periodically covered by the exit button!

This updated solutions combines the previous effort by Erich E Hoover, the Netflix Desktop developer, with a new browser plugin to access services requiring Microsoft Silverlight using native linux browsers.  Pipelight is a special browser plugin which allows one to use windows only plugins inside Linux browsers.

The pipelight project team are currently focusing on Silverlight, Flash, Shockwave and the Unity Webplayer, we’ll only be providing instructions on installing and configuring pipelight for netflix.

I have added a YouTube video showing the steps on how this is done  :

installing pipelight to watch netflix on ubuntu

Ensure all your browser windows are closed, or you run the risk of the plugin not installing correctly.  

Install Pipelight on ubuntu

As a  precaution ensure you uninstall any previous versions of pipelight:

To add the Pipelight stable and Compholio PPAs and install Pipelight in Ubuntu, use the following commands:

Then, you can install the Silverlight plugin using the following command:

By default, this will install Silverlight 5.1, but you can install a different version, for instance 5.0, by using this command instead

To check that Silverlight is working correctly in your browser, use the sliverlight 2.0 animation test , if you don’t see any bouncing balls check if Silverlight is available in your browser plugin list (e.g.: you can type “about:plugins” in the address bar).

Configure browser user agent

The above steps will have enabled Silverlight and all should be working now. However,  Netflix check the browser user agent and won’t allow you to play any videos since linux is not supported. We are therefore required to install browser plugins which will enable you to control what string is sent as the User-Agent in HTTP header, per each site (domain). UA Control  helps you to control what gets sent as the User-Agent on a per site basis.  Adding any of the following strings for
Download UA Control

  • Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:15.0) Gecko/20120427 Firefox/15.0a1
  • Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:22.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/22.0
  • Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; rv:23.0) Gecko/20131011 Firefox/23.0

Thats it, once you have set up everything you should be able to open your browser and head over to netflix, login to your account and watch movies as normal on your ubuntu desktop.

Gary Woodfine

Freelance Full Stack Developer at
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