Open Source

How to get Netflix streaming on Ubuntu 12.10

It's taken quite some time, but Netflix streaming video has finally arrived on the Ubuntu Linux desktop. In this easy, step-by-step, Jack Wallen shows you how.

In one of my recent blog posts, I mentioned that Netflix streaming was now available for the Ubuntu 12.10 desktop. I've used it — it works like a champ. Any title in your Netflix library will play and play as expected. This means, for Linux users, no more having to depend upon streaming devices or watching Netflix on your WII or PS3. Now you too can enjoy Netflix as was promised long ago by the company itself.

This Netflix app is due to the hard work of programmer extraordinaire, Erich Hoover. With the help of WINE, Firefox, and Silverlight, Hoover was able to make this happen. Obviously, FOSS purists will turn their nose up at two things:

  • Silverlight
  • DRM

But, if you want streaming Netflix on your Linux desktop... you've no choice. When it comes to Hollywood, DRM is not going anywhere... ever.

The installation of Netflix on Ubuntu isn't hard. In fact, it's quite easy. It does, however, take some time.


Before you tackle this task, make sure your machine is fully updated. You can either do this from the update manager or from the command line. If from the command line, do the following:

  1. Open a terminal window
  2. Issue the command sudo apt-get update
  3. Enter your sudo password
  4. Once the update completes, issue the command sudo apt-get upgrade
  5. Accept the updates
  6. If prompted (in case of a kernel upgrade), reboot the machine

Now that your machine is fully prepped, it's time to install the Netflix Desktop app. Here are the steps:

  1. Open up a terminal window
  2. Issue the command sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ehoover/compholio
  3. Hit Enter
  4. Issue the command sudo apt-get update
  5. Issue the command sudo apt-get install netflix-desktop

At this point you will see quite a large number of dependencies necessary for the installation (129 to be exact). Say OK to this and the installation will begin. Depending upon the speed of your network connection, this could take some time. Once that's done, do the following:

  1. Open the Unity Dash
  2. Type netflix
  3. Click Install on the Wine Mono Installer (this is necessary for .NET)
  4. Click Install on the Wine Gecko Installer (this is necessary for embedded HTML to work properly)
  5. If you get an error, OK the error (I had this same thing happen on two machines — everything worked fine anyway)
  6. Allow the local installation to complete

At this point the Netflix Desktop application will open in full screen mode. To get out of that mode, hit F11. You will also find a new Firefox icon on your desktop. You can delete that if you like.

That's it. You are now ready to enjoy streaming Netflix on your Ubuntu Linux desktop.


Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website

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