Netflix Adds HTML5 Playback, Support Coming For Linux?

Netflix till date has very bad support, actually no support, for streaming in Linux systems. The core issue was the use of Microsoft’s dying Silverlight by Netflix, but Netflix announced their plans to move to HTML5. The switch to HTML5 gives Linux users some hope of running Netflix on their systems as they can play content from Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus and Google Play.

HTML5 playback has recently been added in the online movie streaming site, thus giving a ray of hope for GNU/Linux lovers.

Although hackers have already made a workaround to stream Netflix videos in Linux machines, performance is generally low and video playback is not hassle free. Some workarounds include running the entire browser in Wine, or running a Silverlight plugin in Wine and make it compatible with the browser. But all of them come at a cost of performance. Switching to HTML5 from Silverlight will greatly reduce all these hassles, as all you will need is a latest standard compatible browser to stream movies and TV shows. This will also allow support for mobile devices and tablets which are adopting more HTML5 standards day by day.

However, keep in mind that HTML5 playback will possibly be locked by DRM, so this may be a great news for Linux users but not a great news for freedom lovers. But this will be a great step for millions of Linux users who would like to watch Netflix videos without switching to Windows.

A candid chat with Netflix support has been posted on Reddit which confirm that developers at Netflix are testing HTML5 playback for now.

14 thoughts on “Netflix Adds HTML5 Playback, Support Coming For Linux?

  1. Actually, Netflix has run “unofficially” but quite well on Linux for a very long time using the Wine Is Not an Emulator (WINE) framework, which provides the open source Moonlight version of Silverlight along with many other Microsoft-centric interfaces.

    However, a native HTML5-based version with official Linux support would be most welcome, and further evidence that Linux is making inroads in the only computing sector where it’s not already a major player, the desktop. Hoping for Ubuntu / Mint and ChromeOS support as a minimum. :-)

    1. I built a smallish Media PC running and AMD Llanos triple core PC. On windows it runs Netflix fine, plays games like Star Trek Online and Rift on medium settings. in Linux using Wine it plays back horrible. Plus the spotty remote program in Linux makes it impossible to setup the remote.

      So once those two things are fixed HTML5 and Remote… I’ll be on Linux again.

  2. Actually, Netflix on wine hasn’t ran that well for a very long time. Let’s face it, unless your running Ubuntu or something based on it, you have most likely encountered a crapload of trouble with it – eventually, getting it to work no doubt but still. Then I’m not even talking about the audio and video troubles. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m glad people got it to work with WINE and I’m glad that after a few hours of debugging I got it to work too, but it’s just not fun, especially not when it breaks down.

    A native HTML5 based Netflix would be far better supported than using WINE as far as I’m concerned and I welcome it partially but.. on the other hand, I’m saddened that the HTML5 specs are eventually going to include DRM.

    As far of making major inroads, I honestly don’t care. I’ve always said “Use whatever works for you whether it’s Windows, Mac OS X, FreeBSD, Linux or whatever else serves your best interest”.

  3. Netflix can be supported via HTML5 in Linux, but it MUST be run through a non-free browser that supports EME. It’s impossible to build an open-source EME robust enough to be accepted as compliant, due to the fact that the DRM must be satisfactorily uncrackable.

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