Wednesday, January 14, 2009

netflix instant play in ubuntu

(it's geeky. i warned you. but you can make fun of me for regularly destroying operating systems. and there's windows involved, but it's free for now...)

ok, so a while back, i installed ubuntu and realized AFTER damaging the windows partition that i didn't have my vista cd anymore.

honestly, i mostly don't really miss it. i've adjusted to amarok instead of itunes, star office instead of microsoft office... there's a free replacement program for almost everything. the one thing i hadn't gotten working, though, was netflix instant play movies. i missed it. i didn't miss it enough to justify the trouble it took to get it, but, er, once i get an idea in my head i can be a little stubborn.

when lifehacker came out with instructions for getting a windows 7 beta key, i went ahead and downloaded a copy.

then i installed virtualbox on ubuntu. and screwed up bigtime -- it needs your user account added to the group "virtualboxusers". instead of sudoing up and editing the /etc/group file directly, i tried to use a graphic group control tool. not sure what went wrong, but it cleared the /etc/group file of everything but the new group... resulting in a daemonic mess where most of the computer services didn't have access to necessary files and i didn't have access to admin powers and... well, let's just say it wasn't working so well. after a while booted into single-user mode with help from a fresh install's /etc/root file sneakernetted over from jesse's computer, i got back a lot of the basics... but couldn't get the networking to work. since the internet is my main source for all aid, i eventually got frustrated, backed everything up, and reinstalled ubuntu. total geek-fu failure, lesson learned, don't mess with that file unless you know what you're doing. but i have a nice, clean install now.

and set up virtual box again. and installed windows 7 on it. and it worked!

except the networking didn't. various blogs eventually pointed me to the fact that the virtualbox i'd gotten by apt-get install was not, in fact, the latest version. go to the webpage. install version 2.1.0. give windows the new, improved virtual network connection. and voila!

and... trying to run a netflix instant play movie in the windows media-based internet explorer player bluescreens my box. which is much less annoying than a traditional bluescreen, i have to admit -- unlike with a real laptop crash, i can go play/research on the internet while i wait for things to get back to normal. after tinkering and giving windows more hard drive space and more memory, i decide that the player's probably just not compatible with the beta internet explorer yet.

so i install firefox. and then netflix's silverlight player. and EVERYTHING WORKS! well, kinda herky-jerkily. but ramping the virtual box's base memory up to 1200 MB (which is more than virtualbox thought was a good idea given my modest laptop, but oh well) mostly fixes that... the audio gets smoother after a little tinkering with settings. it's good enough that i watched the first half hour or so of persepolis despite it being well past my bedtime by the time i got things working last night.

so, happy camper. i'll be happier if/when netflix gets things worked out with the DRM folks to support instant play for linux, but for now i have a ridiculous setup that more or less does the trick.


Anonymous said...

Wow, that's fantastic (although much is beyond my current skills). I switched to Ubuntu 1 yr ago and won't look back, refuse to partion or virtual because I want to keep my system clean. I caved a joined Netflix beacuse I needed to see a move ASAP. None of the players I've tried (GNome M, Movie Player, MPlayer) play NF DVDs. Any suggestions? It's so exciting to find a smart girl cool girl on the web. Thanks

kait said...

hi there!

um, the usual problem i've seen with playing dvds is not having the proper codecs installed. because they're trying to be legal-good, the default ubuntu installation doesn't come with what it takes to play commercially protected dvds. this should help:

if that doesn't work, i'd recommend taking whatever error message you're getting when it doesn't play dvds and searching for it on google. with quotes around it. chances are good that somebody else has run into the same problem! (that's pretty much my strategy for ANY ubuntu issue, actually.) it may take a few links, but hopefully someone out there has written a comprehensible explanation of what to do.

good luck!

ubuntu guy said...

Just read your comments about playing movies, etc.

For dvd's to play in ubuntu, you will need to go to your applications menu, then to accessories. Next, click on Terminal.

Now, when the terminal loads, type this:

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras


Then type your root password.


It may ask if you agree to the increased files being added.

Type "y" and ENTER.

Then ubuntu will download and install all the restricted stuff and allow you to see flash, dvd's, mp3's, etc.


argentum said...

the solution is so much easier than that.

just torrent windows xp. install it into Virtual Box

make sure you've got the right virtual box and are running it from root...

sudo -s virtualbox

argentum said...

the solution is so much easier than that.

just torrent windows xp. install it into Virtual Box

make sure you've got the right virtual box and are running it from root...

sudo -s virtualbox