How-To Geek

How To Watch Netflix On Ubuntu with the Netflix Desktop App


We previously covered watching Netflix on Linux and concluded that using a virtual machine was your best bet. There’s now an even better solution – a “Netflix Desktop” app that allows you to watch Netflix on Linux.

This app is actually a package containing a patched version of Wine, the Windows build of Firefox, Microsoft Silverlight, and some tweaks to make it all work together. Previously, Silverlight would not run properly in Wine.

Note: While this worked pretty well for us, it’s an unofficial solution that relies on Wine. Netflix doesn’t officially support it.

Installing Netflix Desktop

Not only have the developers done the work of tweaking all this software and putting it into an easy-to-use package, they’ve also provided a PPA that allows you to easily install the Netflix Desktop package on Ubuntu.

To install it, open a Terminal window (search for Terminal in the dash and press Enter) and run the following commands:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ehoover/compholio

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install netflix-desktop

After it’s installed, you’ll find the Netflix Desktop package in your dash. Search for Netflix to find the app.


When you first launch the application, it will prompt you to download the other software it requires.


Using Netflix Desktop

The app launches in full-screen mode. To close it, use the Alt+F4 keyboard shortcut. To leave full-screen mode, press F11. While it’s in full-screen mode, you can still use Alt+Tab and other keyboard shortcuts to switch windows.


Log into Netflix with your account credentials and attempt to watch a video. You’ll see a Silverlight DRM prompt. After you agree to it, your video will start playing. Remember, use F11 to toggle between full-screen and windowed modes.



Performance may be spotty depending on your hardware. Different people have reported a variety of different results. The good news is that the package has been updated recently and several people reported performance increases after these updates. This solution will hopefully continue to be updated and become better over time.

Thanks to developer Erich Hoover and blogger David Andrews for bringing us this solution! It may be a dirty hack involving Wine, but it’s certainly better than running Netflix in a virtual machine. There’s also more room for performance optimizations in the future.

Unfortunately, Netflix continues to say they have no plans to officially support Linux, so this may be the best solution we’ll have for some time. Netflix runs on Android and Chrome OS – both versions of Linux – but not the standard Linux desktop.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 12/3/12

Comments (48)

  1. TheFu

    What level of hardware was used for this? Core2duo, Atom, or was it a Core i7 monster?

    Many people have APUs and are very interested, but know that the APU alone can’t support 720p playback without the GPU doing most of the work. Software-based playback just doesn’t work well for HiDef content on commonly deployed media center PCs.

    I have an AMD E350. Should I expect 720p Netflix content to playback without issues?

  2. Jim

    Hi TheFu

    I can’t answer your question exactly for the specs that your machine has, but I can tell you my experience with Netflix Desktop. I’m running an older Acer laptop that has in Intel P6100 2.0GHz dual core, and a stock Intel Ironlake mobile x86/mmx/sse2 graphics card, and mine works like a champ. My HD playback does start to stutter after about 2 minutes, but my SD playback is indistinguishable from a native Microsoft machine with the same specs (mine is a dual-boot). I have had some issues with closing the application. I found that switching virtual desktops (just press and hold Ctrl+Alt and an arrow to move desktops), right clicking on the icon in the launcher and selecting quit application will close it for me. Try it out and post the results for the rest of us. ;)

  3. Laura

    Total linux noob here, to set the stage.
    When I tried to add the repository I got a failure: pycurl.error: (60. ‘server certificate verification failed. CAfile: /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt CRLfile:none’)
    any help?

  4. cam2644

    Thanks for more Linux info. Really useful.

  5. bedlamb

    Thanx for the info.
    It’s not working for me. Is there a page-link you can give me for help? Thanx.

  6. Dean

    I followed the instructions to the letter, the repository loaded, the app downloaded and installed, but, after I started the app, it began to load, I got a message: “Install Wine.” I didn’t have Wine installed (that I know of – new version of Ubuntu Studio;) so I allowed it to install. It placed a file on my desktop.

    When I tried, subsequently, to load Netflix-Desktop, nothing happened. I right clicked the file on the desktop, selected “Execute,” and still nothing happened. I updated the repositories and re-installed Wine. Still, no joy with any combination of all these.

    Anyone have any ideas?

  7. Zeta

    Worked great for me on my HP EliteBook 8560W running Ubuntu 12.04 / Gnome 3 classic! Now I don’t have to go to Windows just for Netflix :)

  8. FichenDich

    Reining in the ecstatic glee, I installed it. Hooray ! But then… When I tried to open it I got the error, “MS true type fonts are not properly installed, would you like to download and install them now? (requires an Internet connection and sudo permissions)” I clicked yes, then got the following, “It appears that you still have not installed the MS true type fonts, you need to accept the license agreement and install these fonts for Netflix Desktop to work properly.”

    According to Software Manager, “scorefonts-installer, Installer for microsoft truetype core fonts, Installed”. Below that it said, “Impact on packages: netflix-desktop (removed), ttf-mscorefonts-installer (removed)”

    A glitch, but it was fun while it lasted. I’d ask for advice, but that would be a fool’s errand.

  9. FichenDich

    What a nightmare. First I tried uninstalling the true type installer. The first two attempts failed. The third one was kind of successful, it uninstalled both itself AND NetFlix Desktop. Then it took two attempts to install true type installer. After that, reinstall NetFlix Desktop. AND…

    The exact same thing happened. “It appears that you still have not installed the MS true type fonts, you need to accept the license agreement and install these fonts for Netflix Desktop to work properly.”

    So near, and yet so far.

  10. Stevie D

    It worked GREAT! I’m very thankful for this tweak because ever since I kicked windows to the curb, this was one thing I missed. Now I feel complete. Many thanks to the person or persons who took the time to figure out the correct recipe. Lovin’ my Linux!


  11. Leon S

    I am new to linux. have gotten several games to run but this I can’t seem to get up. keep getting no public key when I try to install the netflix desktop

    thanks for any help you can give me

  12. K. Darien Freeheart

    My attempt to install this listed hundred of conflicts and wanted to pull down hundreds of i386 libraries including ones that had absolutely nothing to do with wine at all.

    With nearly a decade as a Linux System admin, and a Linux fanboy in my off-time, this package told me one thing: hosed system.

    If I’m going to install hundreds of packages I don’t need in order to watch something that requires proprietary software ANYWAY, I’ll run Windows.

    Arch: AMD64
    Desktop: Cinnamon
    Distro: Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

  13. gotsanity

    I installed it on my machine and it runs fine and plays without issues but the video is choppy. watchable but definatly choppy. my machine is more than powerful enough to handle this so im betting it has something to do with video accelleration. when i ran it via command line (as someone suggested. for them it was throwing fixme errors) I did not see any errors. I am currently running ubuntu 12.04 (64 bit with unity) on a quad core phenom 3.4ghz using a nvidia gtx460 v2 with nvidia 310 drivers and 8 gigs of ram.

  14. Nate dogg

    Cool. It did the initial installation when I opened it the first time, NOW IT DOESN’T WORK AT ALL!!! Wont open no matter what I do…

  15. Nate dogg

    Ok, I got it to work now. I already had wine installed on my computer from before. So I uninstalled it, and ran this program again and let it install its own version. It took a few tries to get the program to open on its own again, but it did it.

  16. HSmith

    When I try the last command it returns the message Unable to locate package netflix-desktop. Do you know why this might be?

  17. Rachel

    I got the same error message as above. I will try again later but does anyone know if they took it down for some reason?

  18. Mark

    Same error message here. That’s the only reason I installed ubuntu-desktop on my 11.10 server. Bummer.

  19. Jace

    Installed it. Attempted to launch it. Absolutely nothing happens.

  20. PhantomTurtle

    @Laura – Try the three solutions that are listed in this thread, one of them should work -

  21. Jay

    Same as Jace. Have installed it but nothing happens when I attempt to launch.

  22. brent

    Fantastic. Runs perfectly on Mint 13! Kudos to the devs that put this together. My reasons for needing a windows machine get smaller and smaller by the day!!!

  23. Luis

    I had problems at first. It was asking me to install MS TTF and I already had them. I fixed it by removing the TTF and installing Netflix and TTF with the package manager. Working like a charm now.

  24. inkybreath

    I believe this forum has the answer, it got me past the mscorefonts problem…

  25. Bob-El

    I tried installing this in Ubuntu 12.04. I followed all the steps to the letter. All I got for my efforts was a pop-up window that says “Firefox” on the top and the message “Couldn’t load XPCOM”. Having no idea what “XPCOM” is I went looking for it. There’s a .netflix-desktop folder and, of course, a .wine folder but I don’t have an XPCOM in either.

    Does anyone have a clue what my problem is? Suggestions? My Windows computer has an XPCOM.dll and XPCOM.js in it. I could try copying them to, I suppose, somewhere in the .netflix-desktop. Can someone search their installation and let me know where XPCOM got put?

  26. tom

    Installed it, works fine on the Intel Dual Core Celery processor, but it a bit choppy. Virtualbox w/XP worked nicely since it can access the CPU properly.

  27. Sean

    It seems that I’ve encountered the same issues as K. Darien Freeheart, when trying to install netflix-desktop on AMD64. It’s apparently not viable, on that platform

    This leaves me with three viable options, it seems:

    1) Continue to pipe Netflix over HDMI from the tablet.
    2) In planning on installing Ubuntu freshly on my laptop – reminding myself to run chkdsk on the thing – install the 32 bit Ubuntu release, and try it from there
    3) Stick with the 64 bit architecture (probable) and try installing a 32 bit Ubuntu via Virtualbox or Qemu, then see how well it works through there.

    There’s also the odd fourth option:
    4) Whine and complain about the “32 bit divide” for some selected applications exclusively suited to Linux 32 bit or, respectively, 64 bit platforms. I know of exactly one of the latter – Allegrograph – and it’s enough that I think I’ll stick with AMD64 ;)

    This article presents a nice, straightforward explanation of how the install works, for those platforms on which Netflix on Linux would be viable.

    I hope to conclude my comment as so, in deliberate naivete: I wonder how soon it could be until Microsoft would consider supporting Silverlight on Linux? I’m not sure how the Windows platform will go, with Windows 8. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt the Microsoft stockholder, if Microsoft would diversify their interests, but conscientiously though – not in that same old Microsoft-style domineering way, y’know? ;)

  28. Jamie

    When I run the commands in the terminal I get this ” sudo: unable to change to sudoers gid: Operation not permitted
    sudo: setresuid() [0, 0, 0] -> [119, -1, -1]: Operation not permitted ” Any suggestions?

  29. Greg

    Thanks so much for this, it is awesome! One would think that Netflix would get a clue, after all you can run it on Android and what is Android basically but Linux.

  30. Andrew B.

    I got it working on Linux Mint 14. I don’t know what hardware advantages I have, if any but my system has an Intel E2200 dual core processor and an HD Radeon 6770 graphics card. So far so good, it seems to work just fine. It runs out of a Firefox window so that’s kind of wonky, but otherwise I can watch videos. Hard to tell if HD videos look just as good yet, I’ll have to try out more videos.

  31. Rajesh Cheethirala

    Worked flawlessly. Thanks for putting this together.

  32. dan olson

    Thanks for the help getting it up and running. On my Lubuntu I was only able to watch it in full screen, but with a right click I could look at page info and in that I was able to block full page so now I can watch it in a small window while working on other stuff. It is choppy but still I was able to watch Sherlock on it and that made me pretty happy! I have confidence that all the bugs will be worked out in time. A great first step!

  33. Danny

    I had to play with it a while but work great on 4 computers..

  34. Lovving it

    Worked like a charm. Running it of a adm Athlon 2 system (2 gig memoery, nvidia geforce 8200 graphic card). Ran the installer. It pulled down some microsoft fonts, wine stuff and mono. No errors, no problems. Running Linux mint 14.

    Thank you :)

  35. flashrob

    I’M A LINUX NEWBIE… BUT…here’s a couple tips “with this method”

    1. I’ve done this installation multiple times …got it to work sometimes…

    2. Before we get into that… here’s some general tips…i install “a fresh version of “linux mint 14” -either MATE or Cinnamon…AND after those installations are done… I use “synaptics pkg mgr” to get and install XFCE4 (and most everything else xfce) as an OVERLAYING DESKTOP on mate/cinnamon…XFCE HAS BETTER FEATURES …like “mouse pointer SIZES,” etc. then cinnamon and mate desktops (tip: at the LOGIN screen you can click on “your preferred DESKTOP” to overlay linux 14…I prefer the XFCE desktop…simpler and better features…but I like somethings on mate/cinnamon…so I switch at LOGIN…to whatever I’m screwing around with…I ALSO USE “KONSOLE” INSTEAD OF “terminal” as IT WORKS BETTER…under cinnamon with an XFCE OVERRLAY DESKTOP…”terminal” shows but “doesn’t work” …KONSOLE which I got somehow works great…

    3. NOW A VERY IMPORTANT POINT…i always “try to run TERMINAL” COMMANDS BY doing “SU” THEN THE PASSWORD… you’ll see why in a minute…instead of running the commands as “sudo (command” etc…

    a. I have NETFLIX completely installed…as per the system above BUT,…I HAD TO REINSTALL THIS STUFF IN “SYNAPTICS PKG MGR”…because during the “install via terminal” (i use konsole terminal instead of terminal, etc.) …the SUDO APT GET WINE thing…kept displaying a “microsoft core fonts screen (used in wine)…and you “couldn’t check the box on the screen” to accept the license agreement… it would just STAY THERE AND FREEZE YOUR TERMINAL at that point…

    …when I reinstalled in “synaptic pkg mgr” THE MSFT CORE FONTS screen “COULD BE CHECKED” AND THE INSTALLATION then CONTINUED…

    NOW, HERE’S A BIGGIE: after this was all done… the “NETFLIX” ICON NOW APPEARED IN MY MENU (under multimedia or something)j…anyway I “clicked on it” and IT STARTED TO DO SOMETHING…(the little linux spinning disk was turning, etc.s) …BUT NOTHING HAPPENED…it just stopped after a few seconds…

    a. So, I’m thinking NETFLIX IS INSTALLED but there is apparently another problem to take care of…

    b. HERE IS THE SOLUTION to that (at least for me)…I go into terminal and do “sudo netflix-desktop” and it starts to download some files…but then freezes and “still no NETFLIX”…

    C. BUT THEN: I go into “terminal” (as admin I guess) LIKE “SU” then it ask me for password…then I get this” and do this:

    # netflix-desktop

    (I’m doing this as the administrator, I guess that’s what it is…and not just the “superuser.”

    AND “NOW” …NETFLIX STARTS UP …without trying to download additional files and freezing…

    now, it does take a “couple minutes” with a black screen…I move the cursor around occasionally and suddenly NETFLIX IS THERE…AND I “LOG-IN” (you do have to have a netflix account etc.)

    I am also vga-porting to a 40inch TV…(using an old vista laptop) -doesn’t have hdmi on it…

    so XFCE monitor has a nice “monitor config setup” that allows me 1980×1080 on my tv…and 1400×900 on my laptop…can use one or both simultaneously…(make sure you take off “mirror” monitor to get these “higher resolutions” (mirror limits to the lowest common denominator…and I want the 1980×1080 on my tv, etc.

    now, just a bit personal: I’M GETTING INTO ALL THIS LINUX stuff because my win7 DSUS “gaming laptop” f’n crashed,.. AND MY RESTORE DISK was in storage (someplace) about a hundred miles away…I couldn’t find it…so I figured “how hard” could this linux stuff be… to make a “boot usb” and jumpstart my drive… (corrupted win7 is still in an unnamed partition)…so I install linux as “option 1” DON’T ERASE MY “OTHER PARTITIONS” etc. (the grub bootloader is only CONFIGURED when you do the add linux (I tried overwriting existing “buggy” linux mint partitions…I DO THIS…when I start to run into “too many” linux glitches…like “linux excuses” with “library or archive locks” or some other BS…

    i just REINSTALL a “fresh copy” and start from scratch again…

    TIP: i email myself “solutions” USING GMAIL…so when I GET THE NEW INSTALLATION UP…I CAN search/access gmail… for my linux tips/tricks/fixes, etc.

    ALSO THE “CHROME BROWSER” is very fast …more so then even the ‘tweaked firefox” …I got the chrome browser when I downloaded “xscreensaver” …which is a really great screensaver …just get the xtra files of this…or you’ll have the screensaver program but only one screensaver…

    normally I DO A SEARCH IN “synaptics pkg mgr” and “highlite and shift” and INSTALL EVERY FILE ON THE SCREEN THAT LOOKS LIKE IT MIGHT MATTER, ETC.

    anyway…rememember do: SU …then your password in the terminal…and then just type “netflix-desktop” at the administrator command prompt…

    after this: I DO ALL “TERMINAL STUFF” FROM that prompt “and not just as superuser from the standard prompt …just using “sudo”…

    it seems to make a difference on some like this NETFLIX thing, etc.

    well, maybe I’ll understand all this after I get my “LINUX FOR DUMMIES” book from Amazon…

    right now “I’m mostly FLYING BLIND”…



  36. flashrob



    I’M REAL IMPRESSED WITH LINUX MINT…especially with the XFCE overlay desktop…INTERNET RUNS SUPER-FAST on my 7yr old toshiba laptop with Vista on it (win VISTTA does work under the dual boot and after updating the video driver…(haven’t used this laptop in years…because my Asus gaming laptop has a ATI 5870 plus lots of xtra memory, etc., but until I fix/or get it fixed (may be a hdwr issue…it crashed, it powered down in the middle of a recovery backup…and glitched the whole boot system, and win7 partition…and it failed a few time with the linux…due to suddenly shutting down…I think there’s a heat issue with some weak hdwr components, etc.)

    anyway…the “old tosh with vista” WORKS SUPERFAST under “direct linux”

    like I watch HULU PLUS in HD with it on 40inch phillips tv and 2nd monitor, etc. 1980×1080 using vga…I may network screen thru a “teamviewer7” internet conex …as my little win7 cheapie notebook (use that on the road for comcast hotspots, etc.)…well the little notebook HAS AN HDMI output…which I use with linux and win7…but the video streams FREEZE A LOT…but the toshiba for some reason WORKS WELL though it doesn’t have a dedicated vid card but has 3gb memory…whereas the “little win7 notebook” ONLY HAS 2GB…

    the real issue is WIN7 IS MUCH MORE BLOATED THEN VISTA…even better was WINXP PRO…which I got on a desktop…THAT WAS THE “BEST AND FASTEST” out of all my systems…with the LEAST problems…

    but…you know how that goes: ADD MORE BELLS/WHISTLES TO WINDOWS…even if it bloats the system…i MEAN: DON’T YOU WANT TO KEEP MSFT IT GUYS WORKING…ETC.

    so, now it’s WINDOWS 8… I can “hardly f’n wait…” (well they may HAVE A LONG WAIT…I GOT LINUX MINT NOW…and it picked up my wireless, printer was pretty easy…got almost everything I need…and the INTERNET via chrome and/or firefox is superfast… so I’ll still use “old windows” for netflix…(can use this wine config in a pinch…netflix does work under wine…just have to tweak WINE and the separate firefox browser it uses…then maybe that will improve too… some work to do on that…don’t know if I have the time yet…




    AND “” and “” ON LINUX DIRECTLY…

    (tip: on (watch Korean Drama: “History of a Salaryman”…THE BEST TV SHOW SERIES “I EVER SAW”….DROP-DEAD FUNNY! (betterr than the best American comedy sitcoms by a wide-margin…THE KOREANS have the “best TV shows” in the WORLD…better than BBC …OUR BEST STUFF…there TV SITCOMS SERIES are “outrageously funny and ADDICTIVE” …screw games/gaming…i’m INTO “KDRAMA” (actually Korean sitcom/romances…AND THE GIRLS are so f’n HOT!)

    MSFT still has the edge OVER “WINE” when it comes to “running NETFLIX”…by quite a margin…

    I got netflix working “under WINE” …but it freezes occasionally…SO WHEN I WATCH NETFLIX…I USE “VISTA” at boot…


    all this linux stuff is not exactly for “novices” not as difficult as programming BUT NOT EXACTLY FOR YOUR “AVERAGE APPLE POD-HEAD” TYPE…either…

  37. flashrob

    …one other tip…since THIS PROGRAM IS “SO GOOD!”


    I normally use linux “plume” or if I need something fancier (more features…) Libre Office…

    however, I wanted something that “had the best of both worlds” …I often jot down “do lists” to go shopping or make “note” to myself… I WANT TO ACCESS THIS STUFF FAST AND PRINT IT FAST …

    “ABIWORD” after installation shows up in your LibreOffice menu folder…

    and it is great…because it is VERY FAST…and you can put “links” in it…plus a lot of formatting if you want and prints pretty fast in linux…

    in windows I use “notepad” (font adjusting and fast access and printing) BUT THIS IS EVEN BETTER UNDER LINUX DIRECT, ETC….



    my website, if you want an eyeopener ( I created it… mostly as a “portable desktop” when I’m using other people’s computers or at a “net-cafe” or in the library, etc…check it out… lots of very useful links, etc.

  38. Neb

    For some reason I just got a bunch of errors and was not able to install netflix-desktop.

  39. Man

    The video is stuck on pause. I play the video but only the frame it is on shows. Its like a picture.

  40. Esteban

    Running 32 bit Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS on an old Acer Aspire One netbook with 1.6GHz Intel Atom CPU N270. I followed the instruction on the page, everything went as described. Playback is choppy, but this is due to my hardware.

  41. Jake

    I love your tutorials. They’re always easy to follow, and always accurate. Sometimes, when I’m looking for a tutorial I add howtogeek to my google search. Saves me time.

  42. Mercurious Georg

    I’m using a 6 year old 32-bit Toshiba Satellite: Intel® CPU T2050 @ 1.60GHz × 2; Intel® 945GM x86/MMX/SSE2. Just installed and running – no initial problems, will post details (such as I can determine) should any arise. I don’t not need to kill and reinstall Wine – the whole install process (while time consuming) went just as described – including the additional packages needed on first run of the app. Glad to be able to watch again, though Dr Who and Dark Shadows (the original 122 episode soap) are about to become massive time-sucks. . .

  43. George

    Installed as described and it played beautifully.

  44. flyingmonkey35

    NOTE #1
    If you had previously tried to install the Netflix Desktop App via our terminal commands from the earlier post, we recommend running the line below in a terminal to clear out any unexpected errors BEFORE trying to install the Netflix Desktop app via the PPA method…

    rm -Rf ~/.netflix-desktop

    Worked like a charm!

  45. Synde Arason

    Thank you
    There is some one out there that actually knows what they are doing
    This worked perfect the first time.
    I have tried a lot of work around s for all sorts of Linux software
    and this one solution by far was the best
    I used it on a system I built my self on ubuntu studio 12.10
    Thank you again smart one.

  46. Mathew

    I followed the installation directions above precisely, and got this message:

    owner@ubuntu:~$ sudo apt-get install netflix-desktop
    Reading package lists… Done
    Building dependency tree
    Reading state information… Done
    Some packages could not be installed. This may mean that you have
    requested an impossible situation or if you are using the unstable
    distribution that some required packages have not yet been created
    or been moved out of Incoming.
    The following information may help to resolve the situation:

    The following packages have unmet dependencies:
    netflix-desktop : Depends: wine-compholio (>= 1.5.19~quantal1) but it is not installable
    E: Unable to correct problems, you have held broken packages.

    I like Ubuntu, but am far from expert in it. Any advice?

  47. Tim

    Followed the instructions just as outlined and let the app search for and install required software as asked. Installed without a hitch. It’s running on a Toshiba Tecra laptop that’s a number of years old that was retired from my company. I don’t know the specs of it but it’s sure not a powerhouse. Performance noted from about 10 minutes of viewing seems to be as good as it was in Windows XP. I’m running Ubuntu 12.04. I’m very satisfied so far.

    Thanks a lot for putting this together. Takes care of one of my last reasons to run Windows.

  48. Ranger Bob

    Worked like a charm first time with Ubuntu 12.04. Thanks!

More Articles You Might Like

Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!