Linux optimize

Linux gets a bit of good news on the Netflix front

From the engineers of Netflix comes some good news for the Linux community and Jack Wallen is here to tell you about it.

Quite some time ago I made it quite clear how I felt about the state of Linux and Netflix streaming. I went so far as to call the VP of marketing on the carpet to nail down the reasons why (Silverlight and DRM). It seemed all was in vain, until this weekend.

A fellow Linux zealot, Benjamin Kerensa, contacted me to inform me that, while attending OSCON, he spoke with a pair of Netflix engineers who spilled some pretty cool beans. Those beans were that, within the next twelve months, Netflix streaming will finally arrive on the Linux platform. That's right...streaming goodness delivered directly to our OS of choice. Why is it taking so long? Simple -- it's not a top priority, so they aren't dumping a ton of resource into the project. And that's fine with me, so long as it's coming...and it seems that it is.

This was also followed up (by a different contact) that a Chromium plugin is in the works that will enable Netflix streaming on Linux. This can be seen here; however, it does seem that is a ChromeOS plugin and not a Chromium browser plugin. If anyone can verify this particular "rumor" here, it would be greatly appreciated. I ask this simply because every bit of information I can find regarding Netflix and Chrome relates to the ChromeOS and not Chromium Browser on Linux.  Obviously Netflix wants to be able to stream to Android devices -- seeing as how they are now outselling most other mobile platforms.

But regardless of the Chromium issue, I have to say...how cool is this? The Linux community cries out and the corporate world is actually listening. Of course it also helps that the Netflix engineers are Ubuntu fanatics, so we had them on our side the entire time. It could even be that these two particular engineers have taken this project squarely on their shoulders, just to make it happen. If that is the case -- then bravo to them. The Linux community needs more fans like that, in high places, to do this kind of work.

Now, I must bring this to light -- the Netflix Linux client will, most assuredly, be proprietary. This will rub many in the Linux community the wrong way. To those that cry "foul" on the non-open source nature of what Netflix will soon have to offer, I say this is a case of "let's be thankful we're getting something". There are simply times when getting a piece of closed source software that will open up Linux to such a service as Netflix is okay. Think about it this way -- would you rather have Netflix streaming to your Linux desktop and have to deal with a bit of proprietary software, or would you rather not have Netflix streaming to your Linux desktop? Me? I'd rather have Netflix streaming to my desktop -- closed source or no.

And there will be some that will look at this and say, "Oh, look at the Linux community applauding something we've had all along...they are so far behind the curve." To those I would actually have to say, nay nay...it is not the Linux community behind the curve, it's everyone else and they are doing the catching up. But even so, I have to give a round of applause to those engineers at Netflix. What you are doing will make millions of Linux users (that number might a bit high -- but we'll never really know will we?) extremely happy.

About

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

42 comments
wuboyblue
wuboyblue

Not a deal maker for me, I do like all my stuff on a desktop that works. I'll keep my W7 desktop for now.

Thumper33
Thumper33

I guess that says it all. Am I happy Netflix is FINALLY recognizing it's customers and developing a service they want? Sure, sort of. I know Silverlight had to be a package deal when M$ offered them an exclusive contract to stream to the Xbox. but, it seemed like they found a work around to stream to the PS3 and Wii pretty quickly. guess they were motivated. Bottomline, saying "Well, sometime in the next YEAR we'll have probably had enough free time to ALLOW you to use the service you pay for on the system you want" is just lame. Luckily, thanks to their recent price hike while blaming their customers "demand" for mailer discs and not streaming (when their streaming service FORCES us to wait for discs by mail due to selection) I am no longer a Netflix customer.

Orange Bull
Orange Bull

I'm running an app from the Android Marketplace that lets me run Netflix on my HTC Evo. Depending on the bandwidth available it runs well without stuttering.

Sue West
Sue West

It comes down to the $$$. Netflix has other problems to deal with at the moment; ie: sourcing their products mainly. So Linux will rank near the bottom in the priority list. Suppliers are getting greedy again. Eventually, just like cable and fm (in the beginning commercial free) there will be advertising on Netflix. Believe it!

pearlswest
pearlswest

Yes yes yes yes yes! Thanks for sharing that intelligence info Jack!

kmarsh
kmarsh

but I want it on my HTPC, not my desktop.

sonicsteve
sonicsteve

Mainly because if I wanted it I could have already had it. I have a Nintendo Wii, I have Windows 7 running on a dual boot, and VM. I'm happy they want to port it to Linux but I doubt it will be much of a deal breaker for the OS. In order to make it viable it needs to be able to do what windows does, in nearly every respect. If people sense any inconvenience they shy away. If they hear any kind "but..." or trade off in your voice they don't want it. Principles don't matter and they don't share the Linux vision. They don't care about proprietary or open source. Perhaps they could be made to care, but currently they don't. We can't look at them through our Linux/ open source glasses, just because we care doesn't mean they will. It reminds me the North American natives, trading their land for shiny rocks and beads. The people will trade their future freedoms for the latest and greatest shiny device and software. At least that is what I've found, yes it's only my opinion, but it's based on experience.

bond.masuda
bond.masuda

Jack: did you confirm Benjamin's source on this? I mean, this is like telling a 2nd hand story, and even if you trust everything Benjamin says, who is to say Benjamin should trust the words of the so-called "two engineers at Netflix" ? unless there's some confirmation or official statement from Netflix, this is at best just rumor.

JJC4545
JJC4545

I've always ran both Windows and Linux boxes and streaming Netflix on Linux was really easy to setup and is much fast. No Lag!! Where windows occasionally does.

bmullan
bmullan

Since Android is linux and Netflix is available for it I've got to assume that whatever development needs to be done probably isn't overwhelming. I've not tried it but I wonder if you ran Android in the SDK and installed the netflix.apk.. (search for it and you can find it outside the Android Marketplace)... that perhaps Netflix would already run on Linux ?

mwclarke1
mwclarke1

Main issue with me is I can not stream very reliably any content these days. Broadband at home is crappy. DS3 at work barely works for streaming. All start with latest browser and Flash upgrades, video on several different computers are all choppy. IE, Firefox and Chrome ? so it is just not up to the same expectations as watching the good ol DVD/BR disk. As for open or closed source. Really does not matter, it is a choice, is an app, either want an app to do something specific, company develops app and sells it, so what. As long as installs and works! I do feel that anything related to the OS itself should be open source, like drivers, etc.

drbayer
drbayer

This is simply a natural progression for Netflix. They want to stream to Android. They already stream to iOS. They also have embedded clients on BluRay players, televisions, and who knows how many other connected devices. All of these devices have some form of *nix ancestry. Why not port that code Linux too? It shouldn't be that much of a stretch.

bblackmoor
bblackmoor

"Will the ability to stream Netflix to the Linux desktop help to make it an even more viable option?" What is meant by "it" here? Linux? Or Netflix? Netflix is losing $8 a month from me because there is no streaming on Linux. If streaming was available on Linux, they'd be getting $8 more a month from me. So if "it" is Netflix, then yes, the ability to stream would make it a more viable option. But I am interested in this Vudu thing someone mentioned. I will have to check into that.

rfolden
rfolden

GNU/Linux users won't pay for anything, so how in the world do you expect them to pony up the $7.99 /mo. streaming fee? 2011: Year of the GNU/Linux desktop! Another no-starter.

techrepublic@
techrepublic@

They don't want me as a client and I don't need their services, even if they eventually do provide.a GNU/Linux client.

patricearnal
patricearnal

As far as I can see (according to Wikipedia), NetFlix is another profit oriented company which protect its money by using closed proprietary protocols and encoding, EXACTLY like Microsoft! My opinion is that the free community should force these companies to change this attitude, not to enforce them by implementing their closed code to Linux! Btw, Netflix is not available in Europe, but we DO have a lot of providers that are on the same path with unlimited Video On Demand, and each time a special, proprietary, closed code to install on Windows computer, as "There is only one OS : M$" The good approach is the "moonlight" versus "Silverlight" approach.

FewClues
FewClues

I find it remarkable and amazing that just two days after Walmart released Vudu which worked immediately with my laptop and my android - that now Netflix is working on making their service available for Linux. TOO DAMNED LATE!!! I hope to see Netflix die a sudden death as everyone world wide discovers Vudu.

bboyd
bboyd

If they were smart they would make everything but the security modules Open and let others get in the game. I could see a great secondary market with MiniATX machines and lower hardware requirements for Media PC's serving up netflix and other streaming video.

zefficace
zefficace

You get to have a less than mediocre selection of "A" movies (that are mostly "old" in market terms) and a mediocre selection of "B" movies. And a somewhat close to acceptable TV series selection. All of that on Linux too! Although it's better than local channels, Netflix isn't all that great. I'll use it on Linux given the chance, it's just not that great.

Keighlar
Keighlar

You all get to suffer the disappointment of not being able to watch your favorite shows because the Netflix servers are down ~ AGAIN ~ along with the rest of us. :)

cgkomeshak
cgkomeshak

Oh Yeah, now do Fallout New Vegas, please!

wuboyblue
wuboyblue

Netflix already runs on the Droid, at least it currently runs on the more popular Droid platforms.

sonicsteve
sonicsteve

Perhaps you might explain for those who are interested.

shryko
shryko

meaning the question was: "Will the ability to stream Netflix to the Linux desktop help to make an even more viable option?" -> and it's still a yes, because the average person doesn't care if they're using windows or linux, they just want to be able to download and install software to access the services they pay for. If most people want to use netflix, then the platform can only benefit by having netflix on it.

rmerchberger
rmerchberger

http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/opensource/open-source-software-users-voluntarily-pay-more/2504 Linux users are still the leader of the "Big Spenders" here: http://www.humblebundle.com/ I think you'd find that Linux users would spend even more if we could get rid of the Microsoft Tax on our hardware purchases... at least that's how I feel. The reason I don't pay for Netflix is not because I run linux -- it's because they don't have much online content I actually want to watch.... and the president of the company is a putz. When one of those two situation changes, I'd get out my checkbook. I'm just sayin', "Merch"

techrepublic@
techrepublic@

Here is an example that disproves your statement: http://www.humblebundle.com/ Average Windows: $3.79 Average Mac: $6.59 Average Linux: $11.63 This is a pay what you want case, where GNU/Linux users pay almost two times more than Mac users and three times more than Windows users. Also, many (most?) GNU/Linux users paid for a Windows license. And lets not forget that for many Windows users software cost is free, as in illegal copies. Now, do you have any proof of your "GNU/Linux users won't pay for anything" statement or is it just a gut feeling (and we all know what a gut is full of)?

shryko
shryko

Many companies have content restrictions about movies and such. One way to control the "corruption" of the local "culture".

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

Don't blame Netflix for content restrictions put on by their suppliers. The movie and music companies put restrictions on distribution, and Netflix must follow them or lose the content. Netflix is for-profit, yes, but if the movie moguls don't get their cut, we don't get to see the movie. The movie industry bought-in to the MS DRM scheme, but that's a proprietary system, take it or leave it. And bluntly, $7.95 a month might buy one ticket at the second-run theaters, but probably not at a first-run show. So for unlimited use, of course you're not going to get first-run. That's going to be confined to the pay-per-view space and cost a lot more. TANSTAAFL.

shryko
shryko

If 90% of the desktop users are using windows, they are the low-hanging fruit when it comes to making something that people can/will use...

SKDTech
SKDTech

The free community has no more right to "force" companies to make their products open source than those same companies have the right force you to use their products. In other words zero. Companies have the right to release their software either closed or open, free or paid as they see fit. The company paid to have developers create that specific product and it is the company's right to determine how it is distributed and how they will gain a return on their investment. If you don't like closed source you are free to not play in their sandbox or invite them into yours. There is nothing wrong companies making a profit. It is their very nature. However it is also the nature of a free market that you have the choice as to whether or not you purchase their product. In the end one of two things will happen, either consumers will want their product and be willing to pay what they charge for it or the company will go out of business.

warpspace
warpspace

I just checked, and Vudu's website says it's only available in the 50 continental U.S. states. Since I'm not in the continental U.S., looks like I'm back to not watching ANYTHING online (Vudu, Netflix or otherwise).

shryko
shryko

Beyond even the security models, if they give everyone the tools to make a similar tool, then others can copy them, and they have more competition (who doesn't need to spend to develop the tools). That means price wars, and both Netflix and the MPAA want to avoid a race to the bottom when it comes to sales.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Go ahead and browse the American site if you want. Click a movie and it will auto switch to the Canadian site and play it (or ask you to login). Its the same movies.

techrepublic@
techrepublic@

Commercial or copyright reasons are probably the reasons behind not being available in Portugal.

MarkGyver
MarkGyver

... It's just that they have to admit that DRM is fundamentally broken if they don't want to waste time customizing the tools.

shryko
shryko

Copyright laws being what they are, to protect their stuff, plenty of companies don't allow it to be exported/imported across borders. Youtube is the same service across borders, but there are plenty of times when I get a message saying I can't watch a video because my IP says I'm in Canada, not the US (or not in the UK, etc)

zefficace
zefficace

Because I've seen a very different selection while I was in the US last winter (Paid for a US account for a month). I'm almost sure it's the CRTC with the "Canadian content" thing that's the nuisance. Of course, I could be wrong, but I did notice a difference in the actual movies available.

Rndmacts
Rndmacts

Often when you see this message there is a note as to how we can view it, if it came from an imbedded clip, then just click on the YouTube symbol and the clip will play. There are some show's clips that will tell you for viewing you must visit Comedy Network or a particular network to view the clip. You can get shows such as the Daily Show, the Colbert Show, or Conan and As for movies there is the biggest farse of all MGM will not sell from its store to Canadians even thought the company is ultimately owned by a Canadian, the same applies to Universal and the fact that Disney has about a third ownership held by Canadians. I don't know why a Candian cares about Netflix when you can get Rogers online, I am sure Shaw has similar and so does Cogeco and Videotron, you can rent current movies online from their services, most networks run streaming services for free. I have checked Netflix out and saw nothing in their services making it worthwhile. A lot of American sources don't like to have their signal come to Canada because they believe our government doesn't protect them from pirates.