Getting Netflix to Run on Mint 15 (Olivia)

This turned out to be a bit tricky and required some digging. Here’s what worked for me:

Install Pipelight

Follow the instructions here to install Pipelight (which uses Wine to run the Silverlight plugin that Netflix needs):

Pipelight Installation Instructions

For me, this meant running the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:pipelight/stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install --install-recommends pipelight-multi
sudo pipelight-plugin --update

User Agent Switching

Before you can test anything, you need to install a user agent switcher in your browser. I normally run Firefox, but switched to Chromium for Netflix because I kept getting DRM errors (Turns out that Firefox was not the issue, but a clean install of Chromium eliminated some variables anyhow).

While testing in Firefox, I ran across these instructions to delete the contents of “/~/.wine-pipelight/drive_c/users/Public/Application\ Data/Microsoft/PlayReady/” to eliminate the DRM error. This didn’t seem to help for me, so I switched to Chromium, just in case. In fact, the real issue was that I needed to set my root filesystem to mount with extended attributes (see below). Both Chromium and Firefox worked in the end.

In Chromium, I installed this extension:

User-Agent Switcher for Chrome

In Firefox, this one:

User-Agent Overrider

I set the user-agent to “Firefox/Windows Firefox 15” in Chromium and “Windows/Firefox 29″ in Firefox (both worked – tips on which user-agent to choose are here).

Mount Filesystem with Extended Attributes

This turned out to be the key step. You need to mount the root filesystem with user_xattr enabled (as described here.

For me this meant editing /etc/fstab as root and adding “user_xattr,” (note the comma) before “errors=remount=ro” for my root filesystem (more info here). I recommend that you be very careful about doing this, because a typo could prevent you from mounting the operating system on reboot.

After rebooting my machine, everything worked like a charm in both Chromium and Firefox.

Virtualbox Setup to Run Windows XP Inside Ubuntu Jaunty

I had no trouble with the initial virtualbox-3.0 install from Sun’s repositories. I popped in my old Windows XP Home Edition Service Pack 1a CD and installed the software on a virtual disk — all of this was easy to do and required no special tricks.

I did learn something important, however: I tried to install SP2 of XP and kept getting a blue screen on reboot. I tried every combination of updates and rollbacks I could think of, but could not get SP2 to install. I wouldn’t have bothered, since my Epson scanner software runs fine on SP1a, but I couldn’t install my TV tuner drivers without upgrading.

After a lot of experimenting, I realized that I had to start over and wait to install the VirtualBox Guest Additions until AFTER installing all the XP updates and Service Packs. Everything seems to be fine now.

Installing VirtualBox to Run Windows XP Home Edition on Ubuntu Jaunty

VirtualBox allows you to run a nested operating system on top of Linux. I want to use it with Windows XP (which I have an old copy of) in order to run the imaging software which came with my new Epson Perfection V500 Photo scanner. It may also come in handy if I want to run some of my favourite old games like Age of Empires and Starcraft. The difference between VirtualBox and dual-booted operating systems is that the nested (or guest) OS will be running at the same time as my regular Ubuntu applications — no reboot required. I’m keen to see how it goes.

In Ubuntu Jaunty, the installation was a snap. I followed the instructions in the VirtualBox manual:

First I installed virtualbox with apt-get (you could use aptitude or synaptic, of course), then I added myself to the appropriate group:

sudo usermod -a -G vboxusers kevin

That was it for the initial installation. Next I had to set up the Windows XP virtual machine. After getting a “session3_initialization_failed” blue screen error the first couple of times I tried to install Windows XP Home, I found the instructions here. In particular, the post suggests adding this line

none /proc/bus/usb usbfs devgid=000,devmode=664 0 0

to /etc/fstab where “000″ is replaced by the group id for vboxusers which you can obtain from the /etc/group file. Note that the original post suggests this technique for Ubuntu Intrepid, but it also worked for my Ubuntu Jaunty install.

I now have Windows XP Home Edition running perfectly inside my Ubuntu system.

UPDATE: Turns out to be slightly more complicated than I thought. The virtualbox-ose (open source edition) packages work great unless you want USB support. For that you have to re-install using the virtualbox-3.0 non-free packages available from Sun. I simply added Sun’s repository, installed the other version and everything worked fine from there.