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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fun with Linux

Older son slipped on the ice while crossing the street Saturday night. We've been blanketed with ice and snow for the last couple of weeks. This is very unusual for Portland. I only recall two other times when we have had significant snow in the 25 years we've been here.
    In any case, he slipped, fell and busted his ankle all to ****.  So now he is ensconced in the TV room, waiting for an opening in the OR so the surgeon can put the pieces back where they belong, instead of being randomly distributed like they are.
    Now my wife and I want to watch a show on Netflix, but we aren't going to inflict our choice of entertainment on someone from the next generation. Nothing is more likely to escalate into civil war with your kids than subjecting them to 'quality' entertainment. But we have computers, so we retire to my cave, fire up the newly resurrected Linux box, and


Hyperdrive Failure: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

I fall back and punt with my Chromebook, it works fine.

But now I've got time, so I investigate and I find some 'helpful' advice, like 'enable DRM', which is found under Firefox Preferences:

Firefox Preferences

Huh, DRM on Linux. Clicked on Learn More and got this:

Watch DRM content on Firefox

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is technology that enables online video and audio services to enforce that the content they provide is used in accordance with their requirements. This technology may restrict some of the things you can do in the browser. While some DRM-controlled content can be viewed using the Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe Flash plugins, many services are moving towards HTML5 video that requires a different DRM mechanism called a Content Decryption Module (CDM).
Firefox on Windows supports HTML5 playback of DRM-controlled video and audio through the Adobe Primetime CDM. This CDM implements a DRM system called Adobe Primetime, which was previously available via the Adobe Flash plugin. Beginning in version 47, Firefox desktop also supports the Google Widevine CDM.
Firefox downloads and enables the Google Widevine CDM on demand, with user permission, to give users a smooth experience on sites that require DRM. The CDM runs in a separate container called a sandbox and you will be notified when a CDM is in use. You can also disable a CDM and opt out of future updates by following the steps below. Once you disable a CDM, however, sites using this type of DRM may not operate properly.
Some sites may use DRM that is not supported by the Google Widevine CDM. Support for viewing this content may require a third-party NPAPI plugin, such as Microsoft Silverlight.
I never would have expected the free software faction to allow DRM to darken their door, but things change.

Unfortunately, this does not fix the problem. Netflix suggests I use the Chrome browser, but when I try to install it, I get this:

Chrome wrong architecture message

One comment on the Linux Mint Forum suggest using the 32-bit version of Chrome, but I'm not sure it's even available (or where I would find it), and why should I need it anyway? I have a 64-bit system.

uname -a: i686
Sorry the images are so blurry. Print Screen with dual screens doesn't have the same resolution. Another problem to sort out.

So far in trying to sort out this problem I've dealt with four different outfits:
  • Linux Mint
  • Firefox
  • Netflix
  • Google Chrome
Welcome to the land beyond Jobs & Gates.

Update January 20, 2017 (the next day). I finally figured out that while I have a 64-bit processor, I was running a 32-bit version of Linux. Drug out another old disk and installed the 64-bit version of Linux Mint on it and now everything is hunky dory. Chrome installed and Netflix movies play. What I really needed was a small system status program that would tell me just what I have. There probably is one, somewhere, but I haven't run across it yet.

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