Firefox 49 for Linux: Plugin-Free Netflix and Amazon Video

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 13, 2016

Mozilla plans to support plugin-free streaming on Netflix and Amazon Video on Firefox for Linux starting with version 49 stable of the browser.

The streaming world is slowly moving towards using HTML5 for streaming purposes and away from using plugins such as Microsoft Silverlight or Adobe Flash.

While there is still work to be done, and Silverlight or Flash usually a fallback even on services that made the switch already, it is fair to say that plugins will be a thing of the past very soon.

The main reason for this is that browser developers have or are planing to remove support for so-called NPAPI plugins. Without support, plugins are not recognized anymore and cannot be used by sites and services to provide access to content.

Mozilla Firefox users on Windows and Mac devices may stream encrypted HTML5 video streams already. Mozilla Firefox supports two Content Decryption Modules (CDM) on Windows, and one on Mac OS X. These are loaded the first time the user opens a site that requires those to stream content to the user's device.

Adobe Primetime CDM is only available for Windows, while Google Widevine CDM is also available for Mac OS X.

This was not the case for Linux up until now, and Linux users had to manually install Silverlight on their devices to gain access to these services.

Mozilla plans to change that with the release of Firefox 49 Stable for Linux. The organization plans to integrate Google Widevine CDM in Firefox for Linux. This in turn guarantees that the technology is there to access Amazon Video and Netflix after Widevine becomes available.

Support depends on the services as well though, and it is possible that Linux users won't be able to stream videos on Netflix or Amazon Video right after the release of Firefox 49. This should work however by manipulating the user agent of the browser to Chrome for the time being.

Linux users who don't want to use Widevine can set it to never activate on the browser's about:addons page. You may also disable DRM in the browser which prevents Widevine from loading in the first place (on about:preferences#content).

There you have it. With Widevine supported on all three major desktop platforms, access to Amazon Video and Netflix is now possible for the majority of Firefox users. In fact, the one operating system that is left standing in the dust is Windows XP. (via Sören)

Now You: Good or bad for Linux? What's your take on this?

Firefox 49 for Linux: Plugin-Free Netflix and Amazon Video
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Firefox 49 for Linux: Plugin-Free Netflix and Amazon Video
Mozilla plans to support plugin-free streaming on Netflix and Amazon Video on Firefox for Linux starting with version 49 stable of the browser.
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  1. Pierre said on August 16, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    Interesting and it’s a good thing but users of sites who use Flash Player and don’t change (not enough resources) will use Chrome or derivated, Edge or IE11 if I understand well ?

  2. Kubrick said on August 14, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    Actually flash 11.2 does function very well on my linux box.Just curious about the security implications of using this version.

    1. CFWhitman said on August 15, 2016 at 2:33 pm

      Flash 11.2 is still maintained for Linux, so it still gets security patches. It’s not updated anymore, but it is maintained. That will end in not too much longer though. After that, it will become a greater security risk.

      1. Pierre said on August 17, 2016 at 3:29 pm

        In Linux, after it, use Chrome or Chromium : the distributions generally use for Chromium a copy of the Google Chrome incorporated flash (ir supports only PPAPI)
        Or don’t use Flash…

      2. Kubrick said on August 16, 2016 at 1:44 pm

        well no i dont see such a security risk myself.I only use flash on one single games site.But if need be i could use the freshplayer plugin but at the moment i see no reason to do that.I will carry on with 11.2 until it stops functioning entirely.

  3. Yuliya said on August 13, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    Offtopic: I noticed for a while that my name won’t remain filled, and today I just noticed that the name field cookie expires quickly, in like an hour or two:
    imgur com/V5lvTxu
    Is there a reason for this? I don’t intend to change it so would make sense for that cookie to remain valid for longer time. I initially though it’s my browser, around the same time I first noticed this behaviour is when I set it to block third party cookies, but I don’t think it has anything to do with that, that option shouldn’t affect this cookie in any way.

  4. Vrai said on August 13, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    I wonder what the security implications are of HTML5 allowing stuff to run on devices and PC’s? Is it more secure than Flash or Silverlight? Just wondering.

    1. The Flash said on August 17, 2016 at 1:34 pm

      As much as I’m against Flash/Silverlight DRM, HTML5 DRM (EME) is just downright malicious, The W3C needs to stop being so corrupt, and outlaw DRM on the web as a whole.

  5. Kubrick. said on August 13, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    Wish the latest adobe flash player could be integrated to run on linux.Stuck on 11.2 here on linux.

    1. mikef90000 said on August 14, 2016 at 3:35 am

      I’m not sure what that will solve. My Google Chrome stable is up-to-date (v52) on LM17 but ‘pepperflash’ still won’t run the damn NBC Olympics flash player req’d here in the US. Grrrr ……

    2. Anonymous said on August 14, 2016 at 3:01 am

      Yeah, Adobe’s support for Linux is disappointing at best. If you’re still accessing sites with lots of Flash content and that 11.x version isn’t working out for you, there’s the option of using Chrome. Its integral PPAPI Flash plugin (Pepper) is still maintained and current. (Note this only applies to the 64-bit version of Chrome. Google stopped supporting the 32-bit version of Chrome a few months ago. But even that 32-bit Chrome, ver 48.x, with its 21.x version of Flash is still more usable than Adobe’s deprecated 11.x plugin.)

    3. Liv said on August 13, 2016 at 10:09 pm

      There are ways to accomplish that, I’m running Flash 22 in Firefox on Linux.

  6. svim said on August 13, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    Thanks for posting this Martin, news of being able to stay in Firefox while also satisfying my Netflix addiction is reassuring.

  7. Aleeex said on August 13, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    Amen, finally

  8. P said on August 13, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Been waiting ages for this but 1080p Netflix?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 13, 2016 at 8:34 pm

      Doubt it. Since Firefox on Win and Mac does not get 1080p, it is highly unlikely that Linux will.

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