Here's an article outlining some of the "up-and-coming" strategies planned to get a technology called "Moonlight" -- which will eventually get protected video content playing on Linux -- up to par with the Windows equivalent.
What does this mean? If the above article is correct, Ubuntu, Fedora, SuSE, etc will get "Watch Now" support in Netflix. But a technology known as "DRM" will have to be incorporated into the Linux version, and Microsoft needs to work further with Novell for that to happen.
- Netflix "Watch Now" WILL NOT load from Linux. (The Roku is an exception) But the future may look bright.
- Netlfix "Watch Now" uses a plugin called "Silverlight 2.0" made by Microsoft.
- Moonlight 2.0 is the Linux equivalent of Silverlight. (Use Firefox to install)
- Although Moonlight 2.0 works with Ubuntu (tested on 64 bit too) Netflix's "Watch Now" web page won't load from a Linux platform due to DRM issues.
- What's DRM? It's copy-protection, which hasn't been ported to Moonlight YET.
- Can I force the "Watch Now" page to load? Kinda... The Netflix watch now page CAN be tricked to loading in Ubuntu, the applet will start but fail to play any video. Below is screenshots and error messages around that.
Read the below updates and entries to see details.
2/17/09 - Update
A new version of Boxee was released today and works with Ubuntu (32 and 64 bit versions). You can get it here: (to the best of my knowledge, Netflix still won't work in Linux versions)
12/26/09 - Update
Merry Christmas. Today I read an article (12/18) that suggests Moonlight will eventually support the H.264 codec used by Netflix's "Watch Now".
"First and foremost, we're 100 percent committing to support open source software," said Brian Goldfarb, director of web & user experience platforms for Microsoft. "The covenant now extends beyond Novell and down the chain so any distribution, whether Debian or Ubuntu or whatever can use Moonlight and be covered by the covenant. Moonlight is now a true part of the open web."
"Media Codecs for MP3 and VC1, and in the future H.264 and AAC, are supported through the Microsoft Media Pack, a Microsoft-delivered set of media codes that offer optimised and licensed decoders to every Linux user who obtains Moonlight from Novell."
12/17/09 - Update
Moonlight 2.0 has officially been released for Linux. Download here.
5/5/09 - Update
Moonlight 2.0 preview has been released. Get it now!
Here's some links with more info!
5/4/09 - Update
The Moonlight 2.0 preview installer automatically installs into Firefox 2.0 and Firefox 3.0. I recommend testing it with other Silverlight sites and posting your success! If someone finds any work-arounds, please post them!
Here is an tutorial to load NetFlix's SLPlayer.xap running Firefox 3.x and Ubuntu 8.04.
Tools -> User Agent Switcher -> Options -> Options -> User Agents -> Add. (Model it after Default, changing the Win/Windows stuff from X11, Linux, etc).
Step 3: Log into your Netflix account and try to play a movie:
"Player Startup Error - There is a problem with your player. Please call Netflix technical support at: ErrorCode: 8001"
Unfortunately, it still does not work...
What does work is some streaming WMV content that has Microsoft Codec Requirements (they'll automatically download and install if you agree to the TOS). Here's an impressive example of the Mono-monkey in action (click image to follow link):
3/30/09 - Update
After some digging, I found this article from way back in November entitled "Moonlight 2.0 is coming"
Here's another article with actual dates around Moonlight 2.0 (click for full story):
"A preview of Moonlight 2.0 is planned for release at the Mix09 conference in Las Vegas in mid-March. The general release is planned for the end of the year."And thirdly, here's the "Road Map" for the Moonlight releases. If you don't yet know what Moonlight is, Moonlight 2.0 in theory will allow Netflix to play in any GNU/Linux distribution. It's the Linux/Unix version of Microsoft's Silverlight, which is what Netflix uses to stream it's DRM protected videos.
Again, not success, but some more signs that this is a live and active project which brings hope to the Ubuntu/GNU Linux users out there holding strong while the Windows peers are watching a movie in the browser as I type this....
3/19/09 - Update
Moonlight 2.0 (Silverlight 2.0 for Linux) support has had some success.
What does this mean for you running Netflix in Ubuntu? Nothing yet. Does Moonlight 2.0 require Mono 2.2+ to be compiled? Yes. In fact, the 2.2 Beta isn't enough, so check this out:
Instructions for compiling Mono 2.2 are available here (they may help you, I haven't tried yet).
3/15/09 - Update
It looks like there's an initiative for improved Mono 2.0 functionality on newer versions of Ubuntu Linux.
"A particularly exciting community-driven effort for Ubuntu 9.04 is the jump to Mono 2.0, a major update of the open source .NET implementation that was recently released by Novell." -arstechnica
If this spawns Moonlight 2.0, then we can assume it will also allow Netflix to work in Linux. If you look at the bottom of this page, you'll see some Moonlight 2.0 links and some license information, suggesting it is under development.
Boxee.tv: The media-center app that promises NetFlix support eventually in Linux.
You may want to try it: http://boxee.tv/. It works with Ubuntu 8.04 Hearty Heron and Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex (official relase is 32bit only) and claims to have Netflix support, but when you scroll through the page, it illudes that NetFlix support isn't working in OSX or Linux yet.
If you'd like to try it, here's their site instructions:
You have selected to download boxee for Ubuntu Linux 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex).
To download Boxee for Linux:
To run Boxee, Applications > Sound & Video > Boxee
- Go to System > Administration > Software Sources.
- In Sources Software dialogue, select Third-Party Software tab, click Add, and enter:
- for Hardy: deb http://apt.boxee.tv hardy main
- for Intrepid: deb http://apt.boxee.tv intrepid main
- After closing this dialogue you can either use Synaptics and select Boxee for download, or use a terminal window, and enter sudo apt-get install boxee.
(Not on their download page, but 64bit users can try this:
Boxee on AMD64:
Start by doing the following, it'll save you a minute...
sudo apt-get install python2.4 python-sqlite libtre4 libcurl4-openssl-dev libfaad-dev libxmlrpc-c3 libmozjs0d ia32-libs rtorrent
Can Moonlight 1.0 play NetFlix "Watch Now" content? No. But here's some more info about it....
Netflix's "Watch Now" player is called "SLPlayer.xlp" which is a Microsoft SilverLight applet. You may not have heard of SilverLight. This is because it's something Microsoft came up with as a competitor to Flash. Infact, its so similar from an end user's perspective you'd think its the same thing. SilverLight streams video from Netflix similar to the way YouTube steams its videos, except in a proprietary Microsoft format.
Although Linux doesn't have Silverlight support from Microsoft, there is hope...
Moonlight is a Silverlight clone and works with Linux. Its something Novell, Microsoft and the MONO project put together. I installed Moonlight 1.0 (which was really quick to do) and tried it with a friend's Netflix account on my computer running Ubuntu 8.10 under Firefox 3.x and the main "Watch Now" page says incompatible browser. I installed "user agent switcher" from Firefox plugins to force browser identification as IE7 and then it complains about ActiveX, which I assume is just the Silverlight installer trying to run. Pretty standard for Microsoft-only sites.
The good news is... in the web page code, I found the link to the Netflix player:
I copied and pasted this into my address bar and it tries to load but says Moonlight was compiled with 1.0 support and 2.0 support is needed to load the player. I'd think once Mono, Novell and Microsoft get Moonlight 2.0 built Netflix in the Linux/Unix environment will be golden!