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Don't Install Pipelight, It Helps Infect the Web With DRM and Microsoft

by Dr. Roy Schestowitz
Reprinted from
under Creative Commons license.

Nasty DRM pipeline

Summary: Putting DRM on GNU/Linux, and especially DRM that Microsoft controls, is a very bad idea

Microsoft tried to break the Web with Silverlight, turning the Web into a bunch of binaries or cryptic blobs that will be run by proprietary software on the user's computer/client's end (probably not spiders, except for Microsoft's). It is worse than Flash and more like DRM, which Silverlight was used to promote. When Silverlight died, its key proponent Netflix had to go infect HTML. This is even worse because it means that the Web itself starts requiring proprietary blobs. One site said this is "Good news for folks tired of installing Microsoft Silverlight just so they can stream videos from Netflix: The company now has an HTML5 media player which works without any plugins.

"Here's the bad news (for now): While Netflix is rolling out its HTML5 player to another platform, you still have to jump through some hoops to install Silverlight if you want to watch Netflix on a computer running GNU/Linux."

Well, this is about DRM in HTML, which is even worse and has put Mozilla to shame. Mozilla also got a little close to Mono, which does not invite much support.

Now, using the Mono-based Moonlight one could almost get this DRM going, but it helped Microsoft get a foothold on the Web. One project remains which still tries to achieve this. It received coverage in some FOSS sites, which is unfortunate. One site said: "Pipelight is a wrapper for Windows NPAPI plugins such as Silverlight, Widevine or Flash (the Windows version) which allows you to use these plugins in native Linux web browsers and thus, use services that aren't officially supported on Linux, such as Netflix (Silverlight), HBO Go (Widevine) and so on."

Another bit of coverage said:

          Pipelight is the interesting open-source project to support Windows browser plug-ins within native Linux browsers. Pipelight serves as a wrapper for Windows plug-ins in Linux browsers using Wine and for browsers supporting NPAPI plugins. This software, which allows Silverlight and Netflix to work on Linux, is out with a big update. --

This is about DRM and it should be rejected or worked around by breaking DRM, not by bringing DRM to GNU and Linux.

The fight here is not just against Microsoft but against DRM. What Pipeline does helps create the perception that GNU/Linux is now compatible with DRM. Some copyright maximalists can use that to impose DRM everywhere. A Slackware-oriented site, writing about a similar issue, noted that support is lacking, so it really is only the illusion of compatibility.

          The version 35 of Chromium has a major side effect that many people are not going to like. The support for browser plugins that use Mozilla's NPAPI protocol to communicate with the browser has been removed and only Google's own PPAPI protocol is supported as of now (MS Windows users still have a bit of time before the same happens to their Chrome browser -- removal of NPAPI support in Windows is scheduled for the end of 2014). This step was of course announced long time ago and many reminders were posted, but if you need Java support in your browser, or want to watch Netflix using Pipelight, then you are out of luck. PPAPI versions for these browser plugins do not exist and in the case of Pipelight, are very hard to create. --

Anything that requires running a blob for access to data/information should be rejected, especially on the Web. We are entering a dangerous era where FOSS become fundamentally incompatible with data. Unless of course we fight back...

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