I have only recently discovered Netflix and signed up without thinking there may be issues playing back the streaming media on Linux. I have done many searches on the subject and found some interesting discussions and the only solution that seems to work.
Why It Does Not Work
Netflix uses Silverlight to play the streaming media and you may be thinking Mono has developed Moonlight which should make this possible but the problem is DRM.
What Is DRM?
The purpose of the DRM is to stop people from viewing the streaming media on an unapproved netflix player, stopping piracy or the service being used in a way Netflix disapproves of.
What About WINE?
I found a post by someone that got close to playing the streaming media using WINE but when the video started to play it was scrambled and crashed which makes me think this is an issue with DRM.
Native Linux Client
At omgubuntu there was a post where he was talking to 2 engineers that confided that Netflix was in fact working on native support for Linux and to expect to see it within the next year. He contacted Netflix to see if this was going to plan but was given then answer “There are no plans to support Netflix on Linux,” ~ Joris Evers, Director of Corporate Communications at Netflix”
A Microsoft Conspiracy?
Netflix is working on Google Chrome OS, Apple OSX, Windows, Android to name a few. There are some amusing conversations on the topic that state that this could be a Microsoft Consiracy such as: “I don’t think it’s quite so ‘back room’. Isn’t Netflix’s CEO on the M$ board of directors?”
So What Are Your Options?
The only way to get Netflix working so far on Linux is to use Virtual Box from what I have found. This means Netflix is not really running in Linux but it allows you to stay in a Linux environment and not have to boot into another operating system. Below is a screen shot of Man vs Wild playing in Netflix using Linux Mint 13 (Cinnamon).
Erich Hoover has managed to get Netflix working through wine on Linux. This site has the instructions on how to install the patched wine via PPA. I would suggest that any one that uses this donate to Netflix Works On Ubuntu on Chipin which was the first thing I did when I found out it worked. Below is a screenshot Transformers Dark Side playing in Netflix running in wine through Firefox and Silverlight. It can be run in full screen mode but for the screen shot it is windowed.
A big thanks to Erich Hoover for all his hard work.