How (really) can I get the Chromium browser to play Netflix?

#1

I’d love to stop using Google Chrome to watch Netflix. I especially dislike having it ask for my password. More so since it will work without it provided I refuse to do so 6 times in a row. (Meaning Chrome doesn’t actually need my password, so why ask?)

I’ve tried Firefox–which works, doesn’t ask for my car keys–however the image quality tends to be very choppy.

I’ve heard that Chromium will work just like Chrome, but so far nothing has worked.

Can anyone cobble together a step-by-step on how do this?

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#2

I haven’t had this problem. Do you click the “remember me” button when you sign-in to Netflix? What distro/version are you running?

In Mint 18.3 with chrome it remembers my login & password (if I haven’t opened Netflix in a while), or just loads my main dashboard and keeps me logged in (if I open it regularly).

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#3

Using Chromium I can login, poke around and even alter my account settings. I can do everything I can do on Chrome does except stream. When I try, I get a screen telling me all about HTML5 and Silverlight.

I’m running Mint 18.3 Cinnamon. Chrome (google) works perfectly. Chromium (open source project) however does not.

Basically it seems to come down to installing the “widevine plugin” into the Chromium browser. To this end this morning I tried to download a .deb package, but it would not install. In fact I’ve tried many methods, but most are poorly explained and none–so far–have worked.

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#4

It’s complicated. You need widevine first and then you need an agent switcher to fool Netflix in believing that you are using a supported browser. Getting widevine on Ubuntu itself is a difficult task.

I’ll try to write a tutorial on it. Can’t promise a deadline :slight_smile:

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#5

Thanks! I knew that if was actually possible someone around here would know!

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#6

Should work just like windows chrome if you have everything installed correctly. And never save passwords in browsers, at least use LastPass to do that sort of thing.

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#7

There seems to be some confusion here. There are two distinct but very similar browsers built on the same code base. One is Chrome which is produced by Google, and the other ChromIUM, which is fully open source. In theory then Chromium should be able to stream just as well as Chrome. The issue boils down to installing the “widevine” plug-in into the Chromium brouser. The web is full of claims that users have done just that, but nothing, so far, has worked for me.

My goal, basically, is to avoid using Chrome, and so avoid Google snooping on me.

But thanks for trying to help!

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#8

Doesn’t answer your question (about using Chromium), but I’ve had no trouble on Netflix with recent versions of Firefox on my Ubuntu boxes. Firefox did ask about downloading some sort of DRM management package the first time, but ran smoothly ever since I accepted that.

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#9

Hey Paulo,

Yeah, you’re bang on. In fact I used to use a custom built Wine version of Firefox, which worked well at medium resolution. And of course since then Chrome allowed Linux users to stream and later–after HTML5 came out–Firefox could stream Netflix natively as well.

My problem Firefox is that action scenes or camera pans comes out very jittery–and not just as everything is loading. It persists no matter how long I watch. The gist seems to be that the mini-tower I use for this purpose doesn’t have enough RAM and my processor has but a single core. On my “beast in the basement” with 8 cores and 24GB of RAM Netflix runs as smooth as a baby’s bottom on Firefox–and did so even before Mozilla re-wrote in rust.

So basically I’m being an extremely picky jerk. My version of Chrome is used for nothing else, so other than what I watch on Netflix, Google doesn’t have a lot to spy on.

But still…

Anyway thanks for trying!

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#10

How interesting. If the future tutorial is on my level (i.e. quite low, but not total noob) I will definitely consider dropping chrome for chromium. Who wouldn’t?!

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#11

A how to install support for widevine can be accomplished by following this method: http://www.webupd8.org/2014/01/pipelight-brings-widevine-support-for.html
I’ve been using this with success for a few years now.

cheers.

Andrew

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#12

Oh, one more thing, you will also need to install the latest adobe flash which can be done with to following pepper flash install method:

http://ubuntuhandbook.org/index.php/2016/11/new-pepper-flash-installer-for-chromium-firefox/

cheers

Andrew

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#13

Firefox didn’t support DRM around two years back. Now it provides an implementation of Widevine that you can enable in a click. Thanks to this, you can play Spotify, Netflix and Amazon Prime on Firefox now.

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#14

Thanks, Andrew, for your response and my apologies for taking so long to respond.

I’m familiar with the “pipelight” project and used it to watch Netflix with Firefox for several years. However, recently “widevine” and DRM became available on both Mozilla and Chrome.

But in reading the links you provided, I noticed the claim that it should work with the Midori browser. So, I installed “pipelight” along with pepper-flash on my sacrificial laptop. Unfortunately I can’t make it work. I ran the suggested test which indicated a libraries failure–I can provide the exact messages if you’re interested. I’m guessing it may no longer be actively developed.

The from all the articles I’ve read, I’ve learned this much: by doing something called “taking a snapshop” one can install “widevine” in Linux Arch from the .deb package. There are also a few threads that seem to indicate that if you can locate “widevine” in .cache/google chrome, it’s simply a matter of copying it to a like folder in .cache/chromium, though no specifics are ever provided.

Thanks!

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#15

It turns out the solution for me was to forget about Chrome and Chromium altogether, and merely tweak Firefox’s configuration.

To backtrack: While Firefox will play Netflix for me, it is very jumpy and hard to watch. And with Chrome it was perfect. So I wondered if I could watch Netflix on the open source Chromium browser–which seems to possible in Linux Arch but insanely difficult in Ubuntu based Linux.

The solution came in Aquil Roshan’s recent article on Mozilla Firefox (See it’sFOSS blog.)

So If you’re having trouble with streaming quality in Firefox try this:

In a blank location bar type: “about:config”. You’ll get a warning screen (charmingly about dragons!) and when you proceed a very long list of variables.

Scroll down to “layers.acceleration.force-enabled” and set the value to “true”.

I’m now officially one step closer to being Google-free!

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#16

i am willing to overlook the fact that my warning was mostly boring (about voiding my warranty for the free software) and award so many free, totally useful internet points to you for this amazing share!

from my reading over on linuxquestions, my understanding was that i saw so much screen tearing in netflix because bodhi (ubuntu-based) doesn’t play well with the available compositing window managers. i had just gotten used to the intermittent weird display and thought that was that. if the one episode of voyager i just watched is any indication, you just solved that issue! thanks :slight_smile:

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#17

May I ask… If it worked fine in chrome on the same machine (I assume), then why not just use chrome instead of chromium? Just curious.

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#18

I get the warning “Here be Dragons!”. But it’s actually a clever system. All changes from factory settings are shown in bold type–so if you do screw something up there is a much smaller list to go though to find the setting and correct it.

But I’m amazed at the change in performance. Gone is the jerky streaming and the weird ghost images that would appear while minimizing the window. It now opens even faster and is at least as fast as Chrome.

I’d say this single move had as big an impact on performance as Firefox’s recent re-write.

So kudos to Aquil Roshan for drawing attention to the issue and to Joey Sneddon for writing the referred to article!

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#19

Hi Mike!

Well, now that I know how to use hardware acceleration in Firefox, I’ll use neither!!

But you ask a good question. I have a few issues with Chrome.

1-When I want to open it, it wants me to enter my password. A informationally promiscuous company wants me to flash the one piece of information–which if made public–would render my system open to attack from anywhere. This always makes me very nervous. How soon before Google–so worried about COC’s–takes its eyes off the road and gets severely hacked?

2-I can run Chrome without keying in, provided I cancel the request 6 times. This would be a complication I could live but sometimes it often takes a few minutes before the 6th one appears. Which raises the question of why they ask in the first place.

3-It can be a pain the make Chrome NOT remember account names and passwords for sites that require them. I’m happy to spend 20 seconds logging in on sites, but annoyed to wait 2 minutes for the 6th cancel option.

4-Chrome is so pushy on this stuff that I usually erase it’s entire history after every use. This means I usually waste all the time Chrome is supposed to be saving me.

Anyway, if you try the tweak above I think you’ll find that Firefox is every bit as fast as Chrome–but still a lot less needy.

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#20

Thanks for sharing. :slight_smile:

I believe what you’re referring to with the popup that asks for your password is the Ubuntu-based keyring feature. That’s an OS thing, not a chrome thing. There is a simple fix to that - you simply change the password to nothing (blank) and it will not pop up again. Doing so will not leak or expose any of your passwords or login info (to google or anyone), it’s just an added security/password protection layer that some Ubuntu-based distros (like Mint) offer, if one chooses to use it.

If you don’t do this and keep trying to cancel it, yes, it’s extremely annoying and keeps popping up.

In chrome it should only remember site login credentials if you tell it to. It may automatically insert your email or login name, but it shouldn’t do so with your password(s) unless you click “remember me” or save password to your google account.

Firefox is fine and I know a lot of people like it, but I personally prefer chrome because it syncs my data across all my devices so I can work on the same projects and documents from anywhere. Chrome has always run fast and stable for me, where as I have run into crashing and other problems with Firefox in the past. Again, just a personal preference thing.

Glad you got this sorted though. :slight_smile:

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