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Ask Slashdot: Linux Friendly Video Streaming? 147

earthwormgaz writes "I've set up a Linux XBMC + MythTV with FreeView machine for the lounge at home. It works pretty well for Linux, although things crash here and there. The Mrs wants LoveFilm or Netflix, but it seems they're Silverlight and not Linux friendly. Is there anyone doing streaming film and TV with Flash or something else that works on Linux? Failing that, is there anyway to download a film for £4-6 say, as just an AVI file or something, legally?"
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Ask Slashdot: Linux Friendly Video Streaming?

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Uses a flash player

  • by ADRA ( 37398 ) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @10:56AM (#43378555) []

    As per finding a legal DRM-free film, your chances are zero for 99% of everything you'd like to watch, and just highly unlikely for the remaining 1%. Any sites that would advertise such are most likely priating the movies and then selling for profit.

    • Re:Google Much? (Score:4, Informative)

      by spanky_poppagasket ( 2644453 ) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @11:08AM (#43378625)
      Wine or a virtual machine? Both options listed on the linked page are lame- I know I've tried them. Buggy or laggy, take your pick, and they generally don't take full advantage of hardware.

      To the OP, there's youtube, hulu plus, or each network's website might have full shows as well. Netflix works on an Xbox quite well so buy one of those- there's also other streaming video apps available on Xbox live, but some are subscription based last time I checked.
      • Netflix for Android, if it is DVM code, should be runnable on Linux or by compilation to JVM .class files.

    • by Skapare ( 16644 )

      If the content industry does not want to market their (usually crappy, but sometimes there are exceptions) content to me and people like me (Linux and BSD users), then so be it. But then they would be liars if they claimed that they were losing any money by me and people like me (Linux and BSD users) viewing, listening to, or reading their content. If they made the decision to not seek business revenues from me and people like me (Linux and BSD users), then they need to sleep in that bed.

    • your chances are zero for 99% of everything you'd like to watch

      You mean your chances are 1%.

      • Or to use the content MAFIAA math, there is 493700% of the content that you should be buying but are not, therefore you are a massive pirate and owe them the net value of Peru plus the total mineral wealth theoretically available in the Pacific Ocean. Experts will testify to this at the trial if payment is not recieved within 4 hours of this notice being put in the (snail) mail. Love, Content Lawyers Inc.

    • Which is because the MPAA and our friends at MPEG-LA were like: "Hello there. We create non-workaeble movie copies. That is, unless you use MPEG4. Of course the MPEG 4 license from MPEG-LA restricts vendors to play anything not obscurely crappy copyprotected. But hey... We have the Copyright, which is a law we lobbied to be passed, to make sure nobody may ever make useful copies. Of course nobody cared because movies cost money and we need to get paid. It just that we decided to earn money, our way. So now

  • out there which have WiFi, Ethernet & USB, know CIFS, NFS & dlna and also have embedded Netflix, Vudu, etc clients.

    I picked one up last week for $100. The dlna client -- which is all we have experience with -- works like a charm.

    • by fat_mike ( 71855 ) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @11:10AM (#43378647)
      I'm going to spread much Roku love. Amazon instant video, Netflix, Hulu, just about every church sermon in the country, The Blaze, all your premium cable channels, etc. And its a cute little hockey puck.
      • by Nutria ( 679911 )

        The Roku only does streaming media, which is useless for my *large* DVD collection.

        In addition to the WD TV Live, I also have an Iomega 35045 (now discontinued) which I really like.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by cknudsen ( 891397 )
          More Roku love... You can do local media if you have the right model. Roku 3 has a USB port for local media. You can also stream your entire ripped DVD collection direct to your Roku with Plex (which has a Linux server in addition to Windows and Mac), which will give you a much nicer UI than DLNA.
          • by Nutria ( 679911 )

            The WD TV Live does DLNA right out of the box. No need to install the Plex Media Server on my Linux box. The simple dlna server I've been using for two years works just fine.

            One big reason I bought that WD unit is that the web page said, "plays DLNA". No need to hunt around or interpret ambiguous marketing-speak.

        • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

          > The Roku only does streaming media, ...which makes it the perfect compliment for an HTPC. The problem with PC based streamers is that Flash and Silverlight sucks. Even if your favorite service or plug-in is supported, you will still need to use brute force software decoding.

          That will require a beefier box than an HTPC that can decode BluRays with the GPU.

          Noise and heat are more likely to be problems with CPU decoding.

    • Netflix works pretty well on Android, just pick up a nice Tegra tablet with an HDMI output and you're all set.

      Or just buy a used Windows laptop to run Netflix on. It's not like that box is ever going to be doing anything else, so it'll free up your nice PCs to run Linux and get actual work done.

      • by Nutria ( 679911 )

        Netflix works pretty well on Android, just pick up a nice Tegra tablet with an HDMI output and you're all set.

        I bet it costs about the same as a dedicated media that does everything I want with a simple, muggle-friendly UI.

  • Hulu Desktop has a Linux version last time I checked.
  • by O('_')O_Bush ( 1162487 ) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @11:05AM (#43378613)
    There is a Netflix App for Linux that runs through Wine. It works perfectly fine.
  • Backwards (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tim Ward ( 514198 ) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @11:10AM (#43378639) Homepage

    The usual answer to questions like this is:

    (1) Decide what you want the computer to do

    (2) Acquire the right platform.

    Syaing "I've already got [whatever platform], how do I make it do what I want?" is often not a helpful approach.

    • True story. I am a fan of Linux, but when I decided to build a media center(HTPC) system for the living room, I went with Windows 7.
      • by seinman ( 463076 )
        I went with a Mac. The Mac Mini is perfect for this sort of setup, and runs all the software I need it to (XBMC, Plex, etc) and plays all the formats I want (I use VLC), AND streams everything I want (Hulu, Netflix). Never crashes, has a built in IR reciever that I use with a Harmony remote, and uses very little electricity.
    • by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Saturday April 06, 2013 @11:30AM (#43378801) Homepage Journal

      (1) Decide what you want the computer to do
      (2) Acquire the right platform.

      I agree that is a usable approach if money is no object.

      Syaing "I've already got [whatever platform], how do I make it do what I want?" is often not a helpful approach.

      If you have to make do with the hardware that you already own, the "often not a helpful approach" is the only approach apart from doing without.

      • You are aware that you can build a decent multimedia system for about 400$US, right? I went over kill on mine because I want to watch my BDs and games in 3D. However, that one can run Skyrim and the like in full graphics and was only 1200$US.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          You are aware that you can build a decent multimedia system for about 400$US, right?

          Sure, but Ask Slashdot costs a lot less than $400. Maybe the geeks here have a solution that works with what OP already has.

        • by mrjb ( 547783 ) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @12:30PM (#43379203)

          You are aware that you can build a decent multimedia system for about 400$US, right?

          Not everyone has 400$ to spare.

          • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

            Then it makes very little sense to ask about building a system to access PAY PER VIEW services.

            • I think Redbox is making a killing, which would undermine your point. Just because someone doesn't have $400 in one chunk, that doesn't mean they might not have $4 every week or so.

              • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

                I love redbox. I stop by every week or so and pick up two or three bluray movies in the middle of the week. I take them home, rip them and take them back then watch the movies on my WD HD TVlive box (which runs linux btw) in glorious 1080p on my big TV whenever I feel like it. It's so easy and effortless that I have just about stopped downloading stuff from The Pirate Bay.

          • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

            True. I often find hardware for free or nearly free though that is capable of doing what he needs. It's not perfect condition cosmetically often but I've gotten perfectly good core2duo windows boxes that are so choked with malware that people throw them out and buy another one since Best Buy charges a ton to clean them up and most people are helpless to do it themselves. It's amazing what lands on the curb, I know I made about 2 grand one year cleaning up those things by reinstalling windows and selling

        • by Nutria ( 679911 )

          A system that plays video (local, LAN-based and Internet streaming) is only $100.

    • Re:Backwards (Score:4, Insightful)

      by LourensV ( 856614 ) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @11:34AM (#43378843)

      The usual answer to questions like this is:

      (1) Decide what you want the computer to do

      (2) Acquire the right platform.

      Syaing "I've already got [whatever platform], how do I make it do what I want?" is often not a helpful approach.

      If RMS and Linus had followed that advice, GNU, Linux, and probably Slashdot would never have existed. Why should one have to buy Windows and allow customer-hostile DRM software on ones computer to be able to watch a movie easily and legally? It's your computer, and the whole point of owning it is that you can make it do what you want. Trying to do just that seems perfectly reasonable to me, and I can't see how any system that doesn't allow you to do that could be the "right platform" for anything.

      • Purchase content, rip and encode to your preferred format, play back to your devices.

        • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

          Streaming is still an inferior option. Selection is inferior. Price is inferior. Quality and features are inferior. Device support is inferior.

          Even if you have access to Netflix and Amazon and whatever, you may still find it more effective to use spinny disks and just create your own iTunes style experience.

          A DRM free file allows you to have complete control over the experience and employ any decoder or user interface of your choosing.

          It's also not just Linux desktops that pose a compatibility problem with

    • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

      Actually, he did ok (but he needs to get rid of his "things crash here and there") ; you simply forgot a step, and it's probably the more important step for all media consumers in our time:

      (3) If they refuse to take your money, don't force the issue.

      Failing that, is there anyway to download a film for £4-6 say, as just an AVI file or something, legally?

      Once he applies step 3 to the above, everything gets easy, and the Mrs will be glad they didn't settle for a streaming service.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Syaing "I've already got [whatever platform], how do I make it do what I want?" is often not a helpful approach.

      That's why 1% use Linux and 99% use something else, but here on Slashdot I'd say it's almost implicit that the question is "I want to fit a square peg into a round hole, what's the best tool for the job?" and then we discuss the merits of various power tools and that getting a round peg is not a valid option. You should have been here long enough to notice...

    • Syaing "I've already got [whatever platform], how do I make it do what I want?" is often not a helpful approach."

      Sure. But saying "Swap to Windows" isn't exactly any more helpful, is it? I'm not going to shell out for a Windows license and I'm not going to install it illegaly. If I can't play netflix on the operating system of my choice, they're not having my business, simple as that. Besides, at the price I would pay for a netflix movie, I'll get the DVD instead; sometimes at a car boot sale, sometimes at

    • I agree. I set up a HTPC on an old mac mini running Plex [], for just that reason, Plex seemed to be the best HTPC app out there and was free, so I picked a platform that would allow me to run it.

      I could have run it in a VM, on linux, but then I'm wasting hardware resources on a system that I want to be lower power and quiet. I personally like the fact that my wife can hit the power button, and 15seconds later be watching a movie.

      Dump the religion out the window and use the tool that works for you, if you want

    • We (are supposed to) have standards for this kind of thing. There's no technological reason that this shouldn't work, therefore no reason it shouldn't work. Anything else is bureaucratic, dick wagging horseshit.

    • (1) Decide what you want the computer to do

      (2) Acquire the right platform.

      (2b) Extend and existing platform so that it fits

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "It works pretty well for Linux, although things crash here and there."

    Lies, FUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      The only device I have where I find that kind of thing to be a problem really is my Sony BluRay player. You would hope that with Linux inside, it would be more robust than it actually is.

      My Ubuntu based HTPCs are rocks of Gibraltar in comparison.

      When one of my HTPCs do go wonky, they also recover a lot quicker and easier than my Sony appliance.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    For every job there are several tools that might work. For most, there are some tools that aren't the best choice. For example, while some screwdrivers could be used to hammer nails - they aren't the best for it and certainly will be frustrating to use. Linux has several places where it shines. It also has some where it is too frustrating to futz with. Video, due to the current copyright / drm mess, is one of the later. Don't cut off your choices just to be a zealot. Get an appropriate tool. That might be a
  • It's not Netflix or Lovefilm, but Hulu works great under XBMC w/ Linux using the Bluecop addon. []
  • a roku hockey puck and plex media server running on my debian server and also my debian desktop. if i can't find what i want on netflix or any of the other channels on the roku i grab a torrent. i was using a soft-modded 1st gen xbox and xbmc but got the roku for Christmas. there are compromises using either set-up.
  • I know -- "Ewwwww Apple! We Linux users haaaaaaate Apple -- Apple isn't leet!"

    But hey - if you can get past all that, it will stream Netflix AND Hulu and stream iTunes music from your laptops and iPhones, not that you use iTunes or any other Apple stuff. But you get the streaming services you want on something that doesn't "crash here and there", and doesn't look like an eyesore homebrew project from spare parts. And it takes all of 5 minutes to set up.

    And who knows, maybe one day the idea of being able to

  • Roku? (Score:4, Informative)

    by mark_reh ( 2015546 ) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @12:50PM (#43379355) Journal

    I just got a Roku 3 and the user interface issues of the previous versions are fixed. Response is snappy and you can stream video from Plex media server (native Linux app) and other streaming servers (Playon, from Windows, for example). The Roku box will handle Netflix for you (and Hulu+) and will be easy enough for your wife to use without any training, and you'll have access to all your HDD based content as well.

    • Like Sony says, "it only does everything". Plays games, streams Netflix and Hulu+, plays content from DLNA servers, plays blu-ray discs, including 3D. PS3's are probably on sale since the PS4's are coming out...

  • For me personally, I need decent Flash. My (European) country's national broadcaster has a digital Flash-based channel. I recently found out that Adobe dropped Flash hardware acceleration somewhere last year. You can't force it on through some obscure configuration file, either.

    That makes for a big disadvantage for most Linux-friendly stuff, I need something Microsofty or Apple-ish.

  • by moj0joj0 ( 1119977 ) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @01:43PM (#43379705)
    For quite some time I just resigned myself to the fact that I'd have to boot into windows or use some other poor method to get my netflix on... then Erich Hoover arrived with a heroic flast to his eye, chin thrust forward and proclaimed, "Do not go gentle into that sudo shutdown -r now! Rage, rage against the needlessness of these cursed reboots!

    Here is how to install the Netflix Desktop App on Ubuntu. Open a terminal and run these commands:
    sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ehoover/compholio
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install netflix-desktop More info here: []
  • With Debian, android and Windows 7 machines, the cable cut and Tier II Internet (2 up, 20 down Mbps) in the house I simply use streaming devices for my TV's: Samsung wifi blu ray player for the big TV and a nice little WD Play TV device for my bedroom TV. Simple, inexpensive and fewer hassles.
  • Google Play plays through Youtube. So if you can use Youtube, you should be able to use Play. Full disclosure: the one time I used Google Play to rent a movie, I ended up watching it on a Windows computer. Not because I was having issues with Linux--the Windows computer was just better situated for watching.
  • Both work on Linux, although Amazon requires the Flash plugin (new Chrome-only Pepper API one will not work) with the HAL (there's a HAL package on Ubuntu: []) The Adobe DRM for Amazon may come into a future Pepper API plugin but it is not currently implemented, which is why you need the old plugin Flash plugin + HAL. Hulu works with both, as far as I can tell. It's been a while since I've watched stuff on there, though.
    • Amazon is flaky on Linux. It's not unusual to have to reload the page because it chokes (sometimes in the middle of playback) or to have the browser asplode.

      They're also daft on Android. They only permit installation on a small subset of Google TV devices. The APK won't work on other systems (it used to, but now it doesn't, and it only ever worked on Gingerbread devices.)

      If you have lots of bandwidth and don't need more than 480p then the Wii is still the hero if what you want is Netflix and Amazon. Otherwi

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