Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Firefox and Netflix

Netflix announced playback is now available (but not supported) in Firefox on Linux. This uses the optional EME module that can be installed in Firefox 47 or newer. Controversy about DRM aside, it is nice that they are doing this.

However, the blog post doesn't mention one important fact. I tried watching a video in Firefox running on Fedora. I got the unsupported page. I know the EME module is working because I can watch Amazon Prime videos on this same browser.

I got to looking at their system requirements page that I kept getting sent to. Apparently, it only works with official builds of Firefox from Mozilla; it will not work with non-Mozilla builds. So I downloaded Firefox directly from Mozilla to try it out. And sure enough, it did work (I ran it under the same Firefox user profile for consistency between the tests). Tried again with the Fedora build and no luck.

So either they are checking to see if it is an official Mozilla build or there is something disabled in Fedora's Firefox build. And it isn't the EME module as that is downloaded from Google if you check the box in the preferences to play DRM content.

I guess this is one step forward and half a step back. I prefer to just let Fedora (or whatever distro I am using at the time) update my Firefox versions, I am not interested in using or maintaining a downloaded copy.



When I originally tried this out I did look at the user agent strings between the two browser instances and thought they were the same. However, after a suggestion to look at them again I noticed one minor difference:

Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Fedora; Linux x86_64; rv:52.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/52.0

Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:52.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/52.0

Changing my general.useragent.override in the about:config to the second one got things to work. So not as dreadful as I originally though, just a minor annoyance. I can live with my user agent being changed permanently to leave off the "Fedora" :)

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