August 07, 2013

Netflix on SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop

Netflix provide a means for you to watch stuff on your 'smart' TV, your iThing, your Androids and your computer, unless it runs Linux. To watch in a web browser on a computer you need Silverlight and of course there is no Silverlight for Linux. Apparently Netflix are ditching Silverlight, but right now you still need it. Inevitably lots of people using Linux want to watch Netflix on their computer and have been hacking together ways to achieve it. Here is my take on it, which works on SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 SP3 64bit. It's put together from various sources with some adaptations.

One additional package is needed which isn't included in a default SLED 11 SP3 64bit install and that's alsa-plugins-pulse-32bit. Without that you won't get any sound. Apart from installing that package it's all done as a regular non-root user and everything is kept nice and neat in one single directory.

$ cd 
$ mkdir netflix

Go to http://www.compholio.com/wine-compholio/#download get the x86-64 wine-compholio alien-ized RPM and save it to the netflix directory you just created. Wine Compholio Edition is a build of Wine with special patches which amongst other things, make Netflix work. Hurray for that guy.


Go to ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/firefox/releases/ and get the 32bit Windows version of Firefox. Apparently it doesn't matter what version you get. I used what is at time of writing the latest 17ESR release, 17.0.8. Save the installer to the to the netflix directory

$ cd netflix
$ mkdir wine
$ cd wine
$ rpm2cpio ../wine-compholio-1.5.30.x86_64.rpm | cpio -idmv
$ cd ..
$ export PATH=${PATH}:${PWD}/wine/opt/wine-compholio/bin/
$ export WINEARCH=win32
$ export WINEPREFIX=${PWD}/winerootdir
$ wine Firefox\ Setup\ 17.0.8esr.exe

If asked about a Gecko-Wine installation, say yes. I said yes when I was asked. I ran through this process from scratch multiple times and wasn't always asked though. Couldn't work out why. Anyway, say yes if asked. Select Custom install and untick the option to put an icon on the Desktop to avoid ending up with a weird and unhelpful Firefox icon on your Desktop which launches the Windows version of Firefox. Untick the 'Launch Firefox' option at the end of the install.

Get and install Silverlight 4. I tried Silverlight 5 and Firefox locked up when I tried to watch anything on Netflix. I was able to watch Silverlight video on another website I tried though, which is curious, but so it goes with this sort of thing.

$ wget http://silverlight.dlservice.microsoft.com/download/6/A/1/6A13C54D-3F35-4082-977A-27F30ECE0F34/10329.00/runtime/Silverlight.exe
$ wine Silverlight.exe /q

Get Winetricks and use it to install the Microsoft Core Fonts for the Web. If you don't have these the Netflix player chucks an error and won't play anything.

$ wget http://winetricks.org/winetricks
$ chmod u+x winetricks
$ ./winetricks corefonts

Now make a script to set all the required environment variables and launch Firefox.

$ touch netflix
$ chmod u+x netflix

Open the netflix file with your text editor of choice and paste in

#!/bin/bash
scriptdir="$(cd "$( dirname "$0" )" && pwd )";
PATH="${PATH}:${scriptdir}/wine/opt/wine-compholio/bin/" WINEARCH=win32 WINEPREFIX="${scriptdir}/winerootdir" wine "C:\\Program Files\\Mozilla Firefox\\firefox.exe" http://netflix.com/

Whenever you want to run it

$ ~/netflix/netflix

Watch and enjoy. The first time you watch anything you'll get a Silverlight dialogue prompting you to 'Enable playback of protected content'. Do so if you want to be able to watch anything.

I've found that the video is watchable, but not as smooth as it could be even on a machine with an i7 processor. It seems smoother on that other site I mentioned earlier which again, curious but so it goes. I've found audio to be fine.

If like me you're one of the many people who don't live in the United States of America but occasionally wants to watch something that's available on US Netflix but not your regional Netflix, install the Hula Firefox extension and enable it when you want to access US Netflix.


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