Breaking: Native Netflix support coming to Linux


Netflix is one of those few sore spots for Linux, thought technically it’s not that difficult to run Netflix on a Linux box, but it’s still challenging for an average user. We have good news for you.

Native support for Netflix is coming to Linux, thanks to their move from Sliverlight to HTML5, Mozilla and Google Chrome. Paul Adolph from Netflix proposed a solution to Ubuntu developers:

Netflix will play with Chrome stable in 14.02 if NSS version 3.16.2 or greater is installed. If this version is generally installed across 14.02, Netflix would be able to make a change so users would no longer have to hack their User-Agent to play.

NSS stands for Network Security Services which is a combined effort of Mozilla, Red hat, Google etc. It comprises a set of libraries designed to support cross-platform development of security-enabled client and server applications with optional support for hardware SSL acceleration on the server side and hardware smart cards on the client side*.

I am running Kubuntu (14.10) and Arch Linux on my system and they have nss 3.17.x, where as Ubuntu family of distributions running 14.04 or older have version 3.15.x of nss.

It’s up to Ubuntu developers to push the 3.17 version of nss to the stable repositories. Marc Deslauriers of Canonical responded to Paul’s email and said:

I was planning on bumping nss to 3.17 in the stable releases as a security update the next time a security issue needs to be fixed, or to update the bundled CA certificate list.

I’m not sure when that is going to be, but I might take a look at it next week since it hasn’t been updated in a while and a bunch of 1024-bit CA certs got removed recently.”

Paul was quite happy with the response from the Ubuntu developer and said:

That’s great news. If both 14.10 and 14.02 have a recent (> 3.16.2) version of NSS, I can make a case here to lift the User-Agent filtering which will make Netflix HTML5 play in Chrome turnkey with no hacks required. So please let me know when you get around to it.

Canonical has confirmed that they would be pushing the latest nss version through a security update so LTS 14.04 will be getting Netflix support. It also means other distributions who run latest version of nss will be able to run Netflix natively.

Netflix is gradually moving away from Microsoft’s Silverlight and by the end of the year no modern operating systems will need Silverlight to run Netflixt. Google’s Chrome OS was the first operating system to implement support for HTML5. The upcoming release of Mac OSX Yosemite will also drop Silverlight and use HTML5 for Netflix playback. Microsoft own’ Windows 8.x also offers HTML5 support for the streaming service.

Once Ubuntu developers test and push latest nss to the repositories, Netflix will be able to implement the changes Paul is talking about and Linux users will get to watch Netflix without any pain.

*source: wikipedia
Thanks: C. Anthony Esposito II

  • Felix

    Actually, Arch Linux uses version 3.17, not 4. There’s a small typo

    • arnieswap

      Thanks. Fixed.

  • Ben Norton

    As of 11/12/14 Netflix on Ubuntu Trusty 14.04 works out of the box…