A Fedora 20 HTPC Reboot

Rebooted the HTPC with Fedora 20 this weekend. Pretty much everything that worked under 19 continues to work. Except Netflix. But I don’t care. Read on to find out why.

The HTPC downstairs has been starting up too slowly lately. Actually it always booted slower than I liked. So I decided to swap out the hard disk for a small SSD. In this case a SanDisk 64 GB.

My original plan was to image the boot and root partitions and then do a partition load onto the new drive. But after a couple of hours struggling with various partition and image utilities (not to mention LVM), I had to give up on that idea (Note to self: in future installs just use regular partitions and skip the LVM layer — it really isn’t worth the effort and actually makes recovery more complicated).

So I decided to go with fresh install of Fedora 20 from the Live DVD.

The install went very smoothly, and everything worked without a problem. In fact the build was so routine, yet mind-numbingly tedious, that I found myself wondering for the umpteenth time why I don’t just create a standard kickstart file for this stuff.

The only major challenge, I knew, would be getting Amazon Instant Video and Netflix to work. Amazon uses Adobe’s Flash DRM to stream protected content, while Netflix uses Microsoft Silverlight. I had gotten both to work in the past by re-installing the now deprecated HAL layer (HAL was replaced years ago by udev), along with Pipelight, a package that installs Silverlight for Firefox.

Finding the appropriate HAL package took a bit of time, because of changes in Fedora since the last version and changes made by Adobe in their DRM (in Fedora 19 we had the fakehal packages from Ben Browning, themselves based on the work of Warren Togami — yes, that Warren Togami — for Fedora 17 and 18).

For Fedora 20 x86_64 I finally settled on installing hal-flash from Kuboosoft’s Postinstaller project.

After deleting my .adobe directory to clear out any vestigial DRM key, I was able to play several Amazon videos without a problem.

Netflix, on the other hand, was a tougher nut to crack. Even after installing the Pipelight package and removing both my .adobe and .mozilla directories as recommended by others, the best I was able to do was get Netflix (on Firefox) to play in windowed mode. Even at that the video quickly seized up leaving me with a still image and the continuation of the sound track unabated. This new arrangement, of course, hosed Amazon video.

In the end I opted to simply give up on Netflix, ripping out Pipelight and its associated packages (which include wine) in the interests of simplicity. Netflix has been very clear for many years that they really don’t want people accessing their service from a Linux machine. It’s probably time I honored that and just cancel my subscription.


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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).