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How to Watch Netflix On Linux

Ever wondered how superb it would be watching Netflix on Linux? Well then, here is the great news: Yes you can watch Netflix on Linux! Amazingly, all you will need is Chrome and Ubuntu 12.04 LTS or 14.04 LTS (the new versions of Network Security Services), then you would be on your way to watching your streaming movies via Netflix. Now before I get into the details on how to watch Netflix on Linux, I think it would be really cool that you know why you need what you need.


Previous Challenges

Before now, Netflix required the use of Microsoft Silverlight plugin with DRM, instead of Adobe Flash. Sadly, Microsoft does not officially provide support for Silverlight on Linux; Adobe does.  However, a Linux alternative to Silverlight, the Moonlight, was developed by the Mono Project with official support from Microsoft, but Moonlight lacked the “PlayReady DRM”, a requirement for playing videos on Netflix.

Eventually, Microsoft “cut the air supply” to Moonlight, according to developer Mignel de lcaza. Rather than stick to its initial plans of being properly cross-platform, Microsoft added Windows-only features to Silverlight. Presently, Microsoft has completely abandoned Silverlight. Tight spot? HTML5 to the rescue!

Netflix Service Technology

The Netflix services use the orthodox HTML5 video technology (a cross-platform technology), and the Encrypted Media Extensions technology. This is a DRM technology that facilitates the download of closed-source plugins that run on web browsers. These extensions are used to prevent piracy and they require access to a suite of libraries – the Network Security Services (NSS).

Good enough, web browsers like Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Safari now provide support for Encrypted Media Extensions. Netflix does not work on Opera, Chromium or Firefox. And you can guess why: they do not support Encrypted Media Extension. Firefox and Mozilla are however currently working on supporting encrypted media extensions and we should be able to use them in the nearest future.

Now you must have figured out why you will need Chrome, but before we get down to how to watch Netflix on Linux, remember that Encrypted Media Extensions, one of the technologies used by Netflix, would require access to Network Security Services.

Ubuntu 14.04 is a new version of Network Security Services and is now accessible as an update. You can obtain Ubuntu 14.04 by simply running the Update Manager and installing the updates. You also have to make sure that your system is fully up to date; else your streaming may not be working. So, ready?

This is how to watch Netflix on Linux, and we are going to consider two methods:

Watching Netflix via Google Chrome

Run an installation of the Google Chrome or any other currently stable version of Chrome, and launch it. Enter your Google account information and sign in.  If you do not have a Google account, then you will have to create one. Next, log in to the Netflix site and you are all set.

Running Netflix via the Netflix Streaming Client

On the other hand, you can install a Netflix client on a Ubuntu 14.04 desktop. Note that the installation can also be run on Linux Mint and Deepin. Most of the installation will be done via the command prompt. Here we go:

  • To add the correct repository, enter “sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ehoover/compholio
  • To update apt-get, enter “sudo apt-get update
  • Now, install the Netflix desktop app by issuing the command “sudo apt-get install Netflix-desktop
  • Next, you have to install the msttcorefonts package. This dependency cannot be installed by the Netflix Desktop Client. Issue the command “sudo apt-get install msttcorefonts


The installation may take a while. Once completed, the Netflix Desktop Client is ready to be activated. Open up the Dash and type Netflix. Click on the launcher that appears to start the client. On the first run, the desktop app will require Mono and Gecko installation. Click on install to complete this action. You can now sign in to watch Netflix on Linux.

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