Netflix on Raspberry Pi

Written by: Dmitry_Eltechs

Detailed guide on how to run Netflix on Raspberry Pi using ExaGear Desktop

Raspberry Pi is a very cool device to build the home media center on. You can do it with such media center apps as kodi (former XMBC), openlec, plex, OSMC and many others.

But it is a real pain that you can’t run Netflix on RPi, which is actually called “a king of online streaming”. And what is a home media center like without Netflix?! It sucks! I’d throw it away!

Netflix and Raspberry Pi compatibility issue

Netflix is accessible from an enormous amount of devices. So, it is unfair to keep ARM users from operating Netflix on Raspberry Pi. Well, life is unjust and Netflix isn’t really compatible with Raspberry Pi or any other ARM mini PC.

The main problem is that Netflix uses the library called WideVine. It provides DRM (Digital Rights Management) protection for Netflix’s content and Raspbian, in turn, as well as any other ARM-based devices with Linux doesn’t have this kind of a library. Even in x86 PC Linux world, there is a huge gap and only Chrome browser can play Netflix video. In fact, Netflix has got tons of amazing content, but they have to protect it.

Netflix incompatibility on Raspberry Pi

Efficient solution

So, what is the solution? Simply run original x86 Chrome on Raspberry Pi! It’s possible to do with ExaGear Desktop, which allows running x86 Windows apps on Raspberry Pi. Though Running Chrome on Raspberry Pi was possible early, it didn’t satisfy users with its video stream quality. The latest version of ExaGear Desktop 2.0 has a built-in hardware graphic acceleration. This allows watching video really smoothly dealing with scaling and displaying video on a GPU level. Interested in? So, we have done a small experiment on that point!

We just wanted to see if it was a reality to watch Netflix videos via Chrome browser and not to get mad of flawless lagging, picture delaying and unbearably bad stream quality. For that we have implemented a following number of steps, including installation ExaGear Desktop on Raspberry Pi, staring x86 environment, installing and launching Chrome browser under that environment. Find the whole process description below.

Raspberry Pi test stand configuration

Model

Raspberry Pi 3

Frequency

1200 MHz

Memory

1 GB RAM

Operating System

Raspbian Jessie from March 2017

Software

Eltechs ExaGear Desktop for Raspberry Pi 3 v2.1

Raspbian Configuration

1. Google Chrome browser is an app for CPU, so increasing the swap space beforehand is strongly recommended. To do that, open configuration command line and input the following command:

$ sudo nano /etc/dphys-swapfile

Raspbian has 100MB of swap by default. You should change it to 2000MB in the configuration file. So you will have to find this line:

CONF_SWAPSIZE=100

And then change it into:

CONF_SWAPSIZE=2048

To apply changes, you have to save them by pressing F3 key and restart dphys-swapfile. Press F2 key to close the file and then open it again:

$ sudo /etc/init.d/dphys-swapfile stop
$ sudo /etc/init.d/dphys-swapfile start

ExaGear Desktop Installation

2. Download ExaGear Desktop with a license key and installation packages. Unpack the archive by entering the following command in the Terminal:

$ tar -xvzpf exagear-desktop-rpi3.tar.gz

3. Run install-exagear.sh script in a directory with deb packages and one license key to install and activate ExaGear on your Raspberry Pi:

$ sudo ./install-exagear.sh

Guest x86 system Launch

4. Enter the guest x86 system with this command:

$ exagear
Starting the shell in the guest image /opt/exagear/images/debian-8

5. Check if you are in the x86 environment now:

$ arch
i686

6. It is highly recommended to update apt-get repositories while launching the guest system for the first time:

$ sudo apt-get update

Chrome browser Installation

7. Download Google Chrome:

$ wget http://mirror.retrosnub.co.uk/apt/google/pool/main/g/google-chrome-stable/google-chrome-stable_48.0.2564.116-1_i386.deb

8. Install Chrome:

$ sudo dpkg -i google-chrome-stable_48.0.2564.116-1_i386.deb
$ sudo apt-get install -f

Starting Chrome and Netflix

Well, after installation and launching we tried to watch some videos on our RPi. The results varied…

On the one side, yes, we succeeded in starting a video. At last! But, telling the truth, it costed us like a ton of time to start even a single one on the other hand. So as soon as a video actually starts, it performs quite good, with no delays and lagging and with a good image quality. Of course, the main issue, usually preventing from comfortable watching is the overall hardware capacity, which is quite low for the intense graphical purposes.

Netflix on Raspberry Pi

Anyway, in fact, we had almost succeeded! And this currently inspires our team for the further attempts which will bring Raspberry Pi devices enough graphic acceleration to flawlessly watch videos on Netflix. 

Want to stay tuned and be aware of the ending of the story? Subscribe to our account at Makezilla.com and get in touch with our latest results on that point. For subscription use the form right below.

Also, it is worth noting that with ExaGear Desktop you can run other x86 apps on Raspberry Pi and more ARM-based devices such as Odroid, Banana Pi, Beagleboard, Cubox, Jetson, Cubieboard etc. If you want to learn more about ExaGear Desktop software, click the button below!

Learn more about ExaGear Desktop 2.1

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