Netflix on Linux and Firefox

One of the minor issues I had with Firefox when I was trying it last month, was that Netflix didn’t work. And it wasn’t because of a technical limitation of the browser itself, it was because of Netflix.

I tried to contact Netflix support to ask about it, and their reply was that Netflix does not support Linux currently:

Hi there, that’s a good question, we currently don’t support Linux, you see Linux-based browsers do not have the premium video extensions required to allow our HTML5 player to stream movies and TV shows and that’s why at this moment is not working even using Firefox.

And I was recommended to use Chrome instead, which is a bad thing to Firefox:

However I’ve heard that some costumers might be able to watch Netflix using Chrome. Have you tried with that option?

The workaround I found to watch Netflix on Firefox was to spoof the user agent string with the UAControl extension:

Linux / Chrome 53: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Ubuntu; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/535.11 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/53.0.2785.34 Safari/537.36

This way I could choose a specific user agent string for a specific website only, like the Netflix one. The other extensions I tried changed the user agent string for all the websites, what is something that I didn’t want.

Even with Netflix saying that it does not block streaming on Linux:

Oh, we do not actively block streaming on Linux computers but cannot guarantee it will work consistently. Due to the customizable nature of Linux, we do not have solutions available for streaming problems on this operating system, […]

It’s weird that by spoofing the user agent on the browser makes the website work properly on Linux.

Spoofing the user string is not the optimal solution for the problem. I hope Netflix support Linux in near future, for the best of the users and the web.

 

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