Netflix is perhaps one of the biggest users of Microsoft Silverlight. Based on my browsing habits, I rarely encounter websites using Pipelight technology. Most other sites are either using the good old Adobe Flash or HTML5 for streaming. Besides, most of my online streaming needs are quite satiated by YouTube.
While Netflix is not available in Singapore, I do, from time to time, log on to Toggle.sg to watch some local shows. On Android there is no problem. Toggle.sg has an official Android app and I can watch anything they have to offer on their website from it. However, on the desktop they are using Silverlight to stream videos. This can be quite a hassle for someone like me who normally does not use Windows. Thankfully, there is Pipelight!
Pipelight is not a replacement of Silverlight. What it is is best described from Pipelight’s own pages found here, and I quote,
Pipelight is a wrapper for using Windows plugins in Linux browsers and therefore giving you the possibility to access services which are otherwise not available for Linux users. Typical examples of such services are Netflix and Amazon Instant, which both use the proprietary browser plugin Silverlight. These services cannot normally be used on Linux since this plugin is only available for Windows, and the only open source alternative (Moonlight) is lacking support for DRM.
Pipelight helps you access these services by using the original Silverlight plugin directly in your browser, all while giving you a better hardware acceleration and performance than a virtual machine. Besides Silverlight, you can also use a variety of other plugins that are supported by Pipelight. Take a look at the installation page for a complete list.
Pipelight uses a patched wine version to provide a windows environment to the plugins, but you do not need to worry about this as Pipelight will take care of installing, configuring and updating all supported plugins. From the perspective of the browser these plugins will behave just like any other normal Linux plugin after you have enabled them.
To get Pipelight running on Linux you can follow the instructions from their Linux installation page. If you are an Ubuntu user, you can go to this page instead. If you just want to get your hands dirty right away without reading all that stuff, follow the 5 steps below (From a terminal. You know how this works, right?):
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:pipelight/stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install --install-recommends pipelight-multi
sudo pipelight-plugin --update
sudo pipelight-plugin --enable silverlight
The steps above will install and enable all the dependencies for the Pipelight plugin on your Linux desktop. This does not, however, let you start watching Silverlight-enabled video streams on Firefox. Like me, if you were scratching your head after you have completed all the steps above, but you still cannot see the streams on your Firefox browser then run the command below.
sudo pipelight-plugin --create-mozilla-plugins
The last and final step above is what many sites forget to mention, or you may end up wasting time trying to search for a “fix” when there is none needed at all.
Do not forget to restart your Firefox. By the way, you do not need an extension like User Agent Switcher/Overrider to falsely set your browser’s user agent as Windows for Pipelight to work.