How to watch DRM Flash content

  8 years ago


Many websites rely on Flash to play videos and use DRM to restrict the content to certain audiences. TV channels in particular are more and more numerous to offer REPLAY and VOD services for free but serve them with DRM.

The problem is that DRM support is not available in Linux versions of Flash (blame Adobe and Google all you want, it doesn't look like it's likely to change).

Overview of possible solutions

For a majority of websites, adding HAL support (required for DRM) won't help (and it's already done in LMDE 2 Betsy and in Linux Mint since version 17.2 Rafaela).

Along with Adobe, Google is part of the problem: They're the exclusive distributor of new versions of Flash on Linux, they only support their own browsers, the semi-open Chromium less so than the proprietary Chrome. In case you were ready to swallow your pride and to switch to Chrome for that particular reason, think again though... the only Linux platform they include DRM support for is Android, so that won't help either.

Pipelight is like a wrapper which makes your browser use Windows plugins. So with pipelight, you can run Firefox with the Windows Flash plugin... and IT WORKS! :) It's quite messy though... and I don't recommend you doing that. With pipelight you start including Windows layers beneath something you use every day.. not only that but it can mess up Webkit as well (that's used among other things by your login screen, your screensaver, other applications).

Rather than installing pipelight and having your OS use a Window version of Flash, we recommend installing a Windows version of Firefox. That way, your Linux system stays clean, it uses its own Linux version of Flash and Linux plugins, and in and only in that Windows version of Firefox is the Windows version of Flash used.

Installing WINE to run Windows programs

The first thing to do is to install WINE with the following command:

apt install wine --install-recommends

With this done, you're now able to run Windows .exe files and programs.

Installing the Windows version of Firefox

Visit the following link:

Find your language and download the Windows version.

Once it's downloaded, go to your download directory and double-click on it (or right-click -> Open With... and select "wine") and install it like you would in Windows (i.e. keep clicking NEXT without reading anything).

Once installed, you now have two versions of Firefox:

  • Your Linux version, in "Menu -> Internet -> Firefox"
  • Your Windows version, in "Menu -> Wine -> Firefox"

Installing the Windows version of Flash

For some reason, installing Flash from within the Windows version of Firefox doesn't seem to work well. So instead, we install it directly just like we installed Firefox itself.

Visit the following link with your Linux version of Firefox:

Select "Windows 7" and the "Firefox" "NPAPI" version.

Once it's downloaded, go to your download directory and double-click on it (or right-click -> Open With... and select "wine") and install it like you would in Windows (i.e. keep clicking NEXT without reading anything).

Once installed, your Windows version of Firefox should now have Flash, and since it's the Windows version of Flash, you can use it to browse your favorite video websites (even though they're evil to use locked-in DRM content right?) :)

Many thanks

Some guys worked really hard on extracting the binary version of Flash from Android... and it works as well. I don't think that's a solution, especially long-term, but I'd like to thank them for trying to solve this problem.

Many thanks to the Wine developers for saving the day. It feels really weird to have to install Windows versions of Firefox and Flash but we managed to get vendor-locked somehow here.. by liking websites which used a technology that is only partially distributed to us and which isn't fully supported. When these websites, Adobe and Google alike ignore the issue, what are we to do? Ideally we'd boycott them all... although if you're here reading this tutorial you're probably more interested in a workaround than some pragmatic FLOSS advice :)

At Linux Mint we're in a funny position, we can't really help with this issue and we can't make this work out of the box. In the future, we can take steps to make it easier for you to solve it, but that's all we can do really. We can also highlight the conflict of interest Google has here and how bad it would be for Linux long-term if Firefox was to die.

Another thing worth mentioning is that Flash itself will die, and that's probably how this will get solved then. Steam and Netflix abandoned it, Youtube is starting to work without it. Of course some websites will switch to HTML5, but others might choose Silverlight or alike...

That's what I like with WINE, it immediately puts you on par with the audience all these actors do care about, and at the same time it's something you add to your system wich doesn't mess with the other software and which doesn't impact your existing version of Firefox.

I hope this tutorial helps, I know the guys in France have been desperate to watch M6 replay for a while :) I wish I had posted this earlier.

Good luck everybody.

djk44883 7 years ago

regarding DRM flash - I just install libhal1-flash "Compatibility library to allow playback of Flash DRM content"
...that's all there is to it and I watch hulu and purchased youtube videos via firefox (don't need to click on the enable drm content in ver 50)

shub61 7 years ago

Hi , I have followed ur article , i am able to install wine ,firefox .
But when i try to install flash for firefox , it throws error "File Not Found" .

Then after googling , I tried to install it via wintricks command .It tries to install Flash 14 .

However , my whole night out waste so far. Can not play video still .

Asking for adobe flash plugin.

Please save my so far effort :(

dixonstalbert 7 years ago

Tried this on Mint 17.2 and fresh install of Mint 18 Mate:

1. Firefox 64 bit would not install unless Windows wine version changed to Windows 7 from default value of Windows XP using winetricks application. It installs with this change, but does not appear in linuxmint Application Menu.

2. Adobe Flash Player 22.0 Installer under wine runs, but windows style error box comes up with message "file not found" . Installer completes but plugin is not listed in Firefox windows install.

still cannot watch content under linux from local cable company which runs fine under Windows 10 firefox,chrome, IE ....

Tarzan 7 years ago

Great stuff! it solved my problem of trying to watch ABC iview without having to purchase a copy of that "other" alternate closed source operating system for a one off personal use. Thanks for such a good tutorial. cheers!

Reeshar 7 years ago

One extra tip which may be helpful for those trying to watch All4 abroad via a *private* VPN: Channel 4 seem to be checking the time on the local machine so make sure it is set to UK time otherwise All4 will say the service is not available in your area.

By "private VPN" I mean a VPN via someone's home network in the UK, not one of the VPN providers such as PIA which now mostly seem to be blocked. So I have set-up an OpenVPN server on my network at home in the UK to which I can now connect from here in the south of France. This makes me appear as if I was at home in the UK. But the time on my PC was set to French time and this was the final tripwire that prevented me from accessing UK TV streamed services - but very easily fixed once you realise the problem!

RytronII 7 years ago

Thank you Clem - I can now finally watch live soccer on RTE Player again.

I had to download the x32 version though as the x64 Firefox would not install -- it gave some warning like it requires a copy of Windows 7.

Cheers. :)

acasson 8 years ago

To the point. Accurate. Well done.

dgbutterworth 8 years ago

One of the best How-To articles I've read (and I read alot - I'm on a steep learning curve with Mint/Linux, having recently found religion here). Not only is the method clearly defined, but the insight into the "men [+ women] behind the curtains" is refreshingly candid and insightful. ("men" = plural - for both sides - Google and Adobe, on one, and on the other those "more interested in a workaround than some pragmatic FLOSS advice.") (I doubt I'll try this - as I made the switch to chrome, although I miss some of the add-ins from Firefox. But I do understand now why I could not sign-in to my online banking account in Firefox. Maybe I'll write some add-ins for chrome - which I have no experience with, but I'm on the learning curve there, too. That is part of the point of FLOSS - taking control, right?) Anyway - this is merely a long-winded compliment. Thanks and nice work.

callagg2 8 years ago

The new default Microsoft Edge browser on Windows 10 has flash built-in, it does not use a plugin. Just like Chrome.
So it makes you wonder how long Adobe will continue to issue a netscape-type plugin!

If and when Firefox get this bug ( fixed, flash may be less relevant.

pamindic 8 years ago

This is redolent of Microsoft's anti-competitive behaviour that Neelie Kroes of the European Commission so roundly beat a decade ago. Adobe and Google are in the process of destroying Firefox as an independent browser, and political action is needed to put this right.

capa 8 years ago

This works well for 4oD and other UK catch-up services, but Netflix prompts you to download silverlight version 5, which doesn't work, and version 4 leads to an "Upgrade Now" message (anyone know a way round this?).
So for now its back to Chrome 'just' for Netflix, Wine & MS-Firefox 'just' for 4oD, and Linux Firefox for everything else.
Feels messy, but I know its no fault of GNU/Linux or Mint. HTML5-EME enabled Firefox will be an imperfect solution/compromise, but a solution none the less, c'est la vie.

caf4926 8 years ago

Strange thing. I have had this trouble with UK TV channel 4 and 5
But Mint 13 and Firefox works OK if you do the Reset Licence in the Flash Player Settings

johnniedoo 8 years ago

this is good, just followed these instructions from start to finish on my new linux mint mate on my old toshiba laptop it works with this and was dead in the water trying to handle windows7.1 x64 . i can watch movies from places that would not allow it.
thanks for this
already got this method up and running on a more powerful Mint17.2 never been windows machine

johnniedoo 8 years ago

I dont know how you all figure out all this, but it went so smoothly i actually liked the process. I do not know how it will function ,but i had been looking around to try to see how to get away from the pipelight methods. it is fairly good but needs constant attention, for me anyway. plus it is so convoluted in its organization i never know if i am unlocking/locking or enabling the proper things. I am not complaining about it, since pipelight and all that has worked out pretty well for me, just not 100% and took me weeks to get it all right, flash, x64 flash had me going for a bit since i didnt know there was a linux x64 needed , thought flash enable would work for flash.
however, i liked pipelight but this looks and sounds 'smoother' cleaner' as described. now to put it into action
thanks for your work

DarrenG 8 years ago

Well done, a simple solution to a problem not of your making. Thanks!

MagicMint 8 years ago

@whell: It’s clearly stated above that “for a majority of websites, adding HAL support […] won't help”.

808Souljah 8 years ago

Im having some trouble

clem 8 years ago

@MagicMint: I use a VPN from PIA (and their French server). Once set up, you connect to it from the network applet and then anything you do is done from within France (no matter where you are) as far as the Internet is concerned.

Hammer459 8 years ago

@zantaz the point is that to watch DRM-enabled feed that uses flash you need a flash that is DRM-enabled. And Adobe refuses to release that on Linux for whatever reason.
Thus the only way is to, as @clem describes, install Firefox and Adobe Flash in Wine.

zantaz 8 years ago

But Flash Player it isn't free ? What do the DRM scheme and why I stay under WINE ? We can tell ADOBE(r) to release a DRM free of Flash Player ! My was always do not usable ... @clem do create a NOT DRM Plug in for Firefox ( I use at 90 % OPERA ... +1

MagicMint 8 years ago

I hate to have to use Windows, therefore I praise WINE for every time it keeps me from having to boot into it… I prefer to use PlayOnLinux in order to keep things easy and isolated from each other, but this one didn’t work out with PlayOnLinux — Flash just makes Firefox freeze there. The above method, i.e. the standard install worked, though.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t help me with M6 replay, as its contents still won’t display outside of France ;-)

oscar799 8 years ago

Followed these instructions on Mint 17
Previously non-functioning UK tv catchup services (ITV Player,4OD and Demand5) now work perfectly