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And The Walls Came Tumbling Down

by Paul Arnote (parnote)

If you want to learn how to view Netflix on your own PCLinuxOS computer, please check out YouCanToo's and loudog's articles, elsewhere in this edition of The PCLinuxOS Magazine.

Someone pinch me. I must be dreaming. Netflix is viewable natively in PCLinuxOS? And not just only PCLinuxOS, but all Linux distros? Like many other Linux users, I never thought this day would come. Like many other Linux users, Netflix's lack of support for Linux has kept me from being one of their customers. Now, that whole mindset is changing. With support for Linux, I'm now considering becoming one of their customers.

The lack of Netflix support has often been cited as a major reason for not switching to Linux by many potential new Linux users. In fact, for the longest time, Linux seemed to be the last bastion of users to finally receive some "love" from Netflix. Netflix was available on Windows, Mac OS X, Android, iOS and even Blackberry. So, for many users, the lack of Netflix support for Linux has hindered wider adoption of Linux. I wonder what will happen, now that this barrier has been removed. Every Linux distribution in existence stands to benefit from an increased number of new users with access to their beloved Netflix accounts. Users who cited this as the primary obstacle to their adoption of Linux as their main operating system can now proceed with the transition.

Sure, lots of Linux users would/could run a copy of Windows in VirtualBox, but I didn't want to go through all of that hassle. I also didn't want to put up with the poor video performance that historically has plagued VirtualBox clients. Even though today's VirtualBox has much improved video performance, that hasn't always been the case, and I still didn't want to run Windows just to watch movies. Running Windows in VirtualBox ran counter to the reasons I switched to Linux, and it makes me feel "dirty" every time I launch Windows in VirtualBox.

So what's responsible for Netflix's change of heart? Well, it's primarily due to Netflix dropping Microsoft's Silverlight as its main means for applying DRM -- which excluded Linux users, en toto. Instead, Netflix is now switching over the the proposed HTML 5.1 standard to stream content. Yes, the proposed HTML 5.1 has DRM, inserted at the insistence of content providers. But the DRM in HTML 5.1 is platform independent. All that is necessary is to use a browser that is compliant with the proposed HTML 5.1 standard. So Linux users -- and users of other "less popular" operating systems -- are no longer excluded (or shouldn't be excluded) by content providers use of platform-specific DRM modules.

This next bit may just be my perspective, but I really don't think so. As more and more people get tired of the bigger and bigger mess that Windows has become -- increasingly so with virtually every new version -- more and more people seem to be discovering Linux. The popularity of Linux has definitely been buoyed by the emergence of Linux as a powerful gaming platform. The release of Valve's "official" Steam client for Linux in September 2013 has certainly put some steam into the adoption of Linux (sorry for the pun). Valve even has a Linux based gaming OS in the works, called SteamOS, which is currently in open beta testing.

Bit by bit, the walls and barriers -- whether real or perceived -- that prevent users from adopting Linux are being torn down. Those of us who have already made the transition from the commercially available operating systems to Linux years ago have become covered in cobwebs waiting for these events to materialize. But finally, our long wait is being rewarded.

At long last, the walls came tumbling down.

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