Pipelight for media clients

Although their backend infrastructure depends on it, Netflix continues to snub Linux as a client. An unofficial solution comes via the Pipelight project, at least for now.

Pipelight is a browser plugin that allows the use of Windows plugins by a Linux client. From its name you’ll not be surprised that it exists primarily to deliver Microsoft’s Silverlight, required for viewing Netflix on PC’s, to Linux browsers.

The installation instructions are clear and comprehensive. Getting Pipelight (and Silverlight) up and running on a late model Fedora system is relatively painless. What’s needed, in the following order, are: the cabextract package, an updated version of Microsoft’s core fonts for the web, a specially configured and patched installation of Wine, Pipelight itself, and Silverlight (imported through Pipelight).

There is a self-compiling rpm for the core fonts (due to legal concerns the rpm does not contain the core fonts binaries, but rather downloads and configures them on the fly), which must be installed first of all (cabextract is used to do the actual font extraction), as well as a Fedora yum repository for Pipelight. Once the yum repo is installed to /etc/yum.repos.d, issuing a “yum install Pipelight” will result in the installation of both Wine and Pipelight (if you’ve already got Wine installed, I’d recommend removing it before starting, as it could conflict with the Pipelight setup process).

Once Pipelight is installed you need to configure it and Silverlight, agreeing to the license presented in the console:

pipelight-plugin --enable silverlight

The final step needed to make all this work is to install a User Agent switcher for Firefox on your Linux system (I chose User Agent Overrider). This will be needed to change your User Agent string from Firefox for Linux to Windows (when not actually viewing Netflix I disable both the User Agent and Silverlight plugins to avoid issues they might cause with other sites — and to reduce my vulnerability to malevolent software designed to attack Windows systems).

Of course this all seems a bit Rube Goldberg, and probably won’t last long (these kinds of solutions almost never do), but if you want to view Netflix movies on your Linux media PC then it will at least get you back in the game for a little while.

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About phil

My name is Phil Lembo. In my day job I’m an enterprise IT architect for a leading distribution and services company. The rest of my time I try to maintain a semi-normal family life in the suburbs of Raleigh, NC. E-mail me at philipATlembobrothersDOTcom. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own and not those of my employers, past, present or future (except where I quote others, who will need to accept responsibility for their own rants).