Netflix on Linux Mint 17 “Qiana”

*Note: This is not meant to be a tutorial, I am only recounting my experience.

Netflix is possibly one of my favorite companies. They save me a ton of money on cable. I’m a binger, so Netflix is perfect for me. That being said, I’m rather pissed at Netflix for not making streaming compatible with Linux. This entry will be about how I got Netflix to work using Pipelight and the User Agent Overrider for Firefox.

The first problem is Silverlight. I don’t know anything about the programming involved in streaming videos. But it seems really dumb to use Microsoft software to do it. Silverlight can’t be the only way to do it, because I have no problem watching Hulu. I know that Netflix is in the process of switching to HTML5, but why use Silverlight in the first place?

The second problem is Netflix blocking Linux users even if they have a Silverlight(esqe?) plug-in. I really don’t understand that one. If I have the necessary software and I’m paying for Netflix, why would they block me?

These 2 problems are what I had to address to get Netflix to work. Silverlight is owned by Microsoft, so of course it doesn’t come with Linux Mint. Luckily there’s a program called “Pipelight” that gets Silverlight to work. I’m not sure if it actually loads Silverlight or if it’s a plug-in that acts like Silverlight, but it works.

To get Pipelight on my laptop, I read through a few different tutorials on how to do it. The most complete one is here, but I didn’t follow it exactly. Since I am using Linux Mint, I followed the Ubuntu instructions. In the instructions, it (and the other tutes) said to use the Terminal to enter

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:pipelight/stable

This command connects my laptop to Pipelight’s repo. I did this and everything was fine. Then I followed the next step to install Pipelight:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install pipelight-multi

The terminal started having a bunch of lines of text, which it always does when I install something this way. After all that text, it failed, saying some file was locked and asking if I had root access. I’d never seen that before. I went searching, and it seemed like other people only had that problem if they forgot to type in “sudo”. Some forum I came across also said when you do “install” it puts the newest version and doesn’t need to be updated. Since I had typed “sudo” I thought I’d try just doing the “install” command. So I tried using this command instead:

sudo apt-get install pipelight-multi

I don’t know exactly what the problem was, but doing this seems to have worked. After it finished installing, I had to enable the plug-in with this command:

sudo pipelight-plugin –enable silverlight

That last command made Silverlight work on my browser. So that fixed the first problem.

The second problem was that Netflix blocks me since I use Linux. The way around this is for me to tell Netflix I’m using Windows. The tutorial suggested the “User Agent Switcher” add-on for Firefox. I tried using this add-on, but when I tried to load a video, Netflix said I needed ActiveX. I tried the “User Agent Overrider” add-on instead, with the setting Windows/Firefox 29. It’s working very well. I have both sound and video, with no lag.

The only problem I have now is that Netflix didn’t have the movie I wanted to stream TToTT

After all that work, I started having problems running Netflix in my browser like I wanted. The image and sound don’t sync up right. I decided to install the Netflix desktop and try it instead. I used Nixie Pixel’s tutorial to install the Netflix desktop program. I’ve got it installed now. It works very well, the image and sound sync up fine.

The commands to install Netflix desktop on Mint (or any Ubuntu compatible version) are:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ehoover/compholio
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install netflix-desktop

or you can watch Nixie’s Video 😀

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Back on Track with Qiana

My experiments with Linux got a little off track the past few weeks. I went on a trip to visit family. Traveling always throws me off. Between laundry, packing, unpacking & my changed sleep schedule, it takes a bit to recover. Once I got back, I had a slew of medical stuff to take care of, which is stressful and time consuming. So I’m hoping that this week life starts to go back to normal.

I was able to finish testing all of the distros I downloaded. I’ve now tried lots of different versions of Mint, Ubuntu & Fedora. I also tried openSUSE, but it didn’t load properly, so I’ll have to go back and look at it to see if I can figure out the problem. Other than openSUSE, every distro I tried worked fine.

When I got back home, I was excited to see Linux Mint 17 was released. I downloaded Qiana MATE and Cinnamon and took them for test drives. Both worked well, but I prefer the look and feel of MATE, so I decided to go ahead and install that. The backup and install went very smoothly, no problems at all. I did a clean install instead of updating 16 because it seemed far easier. I didn’t have very much to backup, I hadn’t transfered much onto my laptop since I knew I’d be installing a new OS soon. I’m liking 17 better than my test drives of 13, but I don’t see much difference between 16 & 17. It looks and runs pretty much the same. I can’t wait for them to release the other DE for 17 so I can try them out! 😀

Since I upgraded, I’ve been working on setting up everything. I reinstalled the programs I knew I’d want, the IDEs, system tools, etc. I also got some other programs I didn’t have before. I got a pack of simple gnome games. I don’t play with those sort of things very often, but it’s nice to have some little time burners. I also got some programs I haven’t tried out yet, Hugin for photo stitching (I’m hoping that one’s good :)) and some other IDEs: one for QT, one for HTML and Glade. There’s still a couple more things I wanna get: Conky and the plug-ins for GIMP. I saw a screen shot of Conky in a magazine and I like that it tells me usage and temp on the same screen, because I have problems with overheating.

I also got 2 medical programs that are both great. The first one is called Cycle, which keeps track of menstruation and predicts fertility and ovulation. This is a super handy program for women. I really like that it averages the previous cycles for predictions, since no woman is completely regular this is much better than using 28 days. It also lets me change the color for each type of day, so my calendar is very bright and colorful. It’s also way more convenient than using a website and it’s safer. It automatically sets up a user and password, so your info is private. It’ll also let multiple women keep track, which seems great for families with teenagers. It also lets you add notes, which is great if you have other symptoms you’re keeping track of, like migraines. My only complaint is that it doesn’t let you change the luteal phase, it just assumes a normal length. I don’t think this would effect most women using this program (I don’t think most of us know the length of our luteal phase anyway), but it might be important for people trying to (or not to) conceive. I think it would also be helpful if this program used a gradient between fertile and safe. This would make it more obvious which days are most fertile or safest.

The other medical program I got is called Ginkgo. It lets me look at DICOM images, which are X-rays. I had to get some X-rays last week and I wanted to look at them, so I found this program. It’s really intuitive and easy to figure out. I can load my history as a patient, and see each group of X-rays. I can then load each group and each X-ray and look at it in detail. I can also export the X-rays as different image types. I sorta think it would be cool to use different filters and colorize an X-ray and print it onto dishes or something. I also think this program will be great for comparing old and new X-rays. I just need to find some old X-rays to try it out. I don’t think this program has this feature, but I think it would be cool if it would analyze the images and show me the names of each bone on mouse over.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with both Qiana and all the new programs I’ve gotten. My next post will be on my ordeal last night with Netflix, as I seemed to have every possible problem trying to get it to work.

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Distros Galore

I’ve had an incredibly busy week. Besides continuing my work with Ruby and commands, I’ve also been having a ton of fun trying out different distros. I’m currently running Mint 16, which is not a LTS release. I’ve got a few weeks before it’s obsolete. While I’m waiting for the LTS of Mint 17, I decided to try out different distros and desktop environments. So far, I’ve just been checking compatibility.

I’m debating whether or not to switch to Xfce. Since my laptop is older, it might run better. I like KDE, both how it looks and the native programs. I’ve seen in the forums people saying that KDE can be configured to be as light as Xfce, so I’m going to research that a bit more. If KDE will run fast, I would like that to be my primary desktop environment. I do still have more flavors to try, so I might end up changing my mind entirely 🙂

I’m also thinking that I will make a couple bootable USBs (I’m using DVDs atm) that I can use to learn the different distros without having to set up a dual-boot. Fedora will run now that I have the correct version of it, so I’d like to learn the differences. So far, Mint is still my favorite distro. I’ve tried both Ubuntu and Fedora now, and I’m planning on trying openSUSE later today or tomorrow.

I haven’t tried Debian or any Debian based distros. I have read that Debian isn’t great for beginners. I think it would be great to try once I’m more comfortable on Linux. I’d like to get the testing updates and be able to help fix problems. I also checked out Slackware, but something about it seemed intimidating. So that might be one to come back to in a few months.

So far my least favorite is Ubuntu with its default desktop environment (I think called Unity). It seems slower than all the other flavors I’ve tried. It is pretty & sophisticated looking, but there’s something about it that just felt “off” to me.

I’m really loving all the choices I have with Linux. There’s so many distros and desktop environments to try out. Before switching to Linux, I never thought of trying out different OS just for fun. Now, popping in a live DVD or USB is as easy as changing my screen saver. To me, having the ability to change something so big so easily is amazing.

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More Basic Commands

After practicing with the commands I learned last week, I feel a lot more confident using the Terminal. I practiced a lot in moving and renaming files and directories. I also created some new directories. At the beginning, I would keep the File Manager open so I could visualize what I was doing. Now I feel comfortable using the “ls” and “cd” commands to navigate without looking at the File Manager.

I’ve learned some more of the basic commands to use in the Terminal. I used the website Linux Survival again. I learned some more file manipulation. The “chmod” or change mode command will come in handy for both Ruby and C++, I can make my text files executable. I’ve got quite a few files I can practice chmod on, so that’s what I’m going to be doing.

I’m also feeling a lot more comfortable with Linux terminology. I’m starting to think “directory” instead of “folder,” which makes remembering the commands easier. I think after I complete this set of tutorials, I might be ready to retackle “Linux in a Nutshell.”

Today’s Commands

ls -l – long list, lists details for files in a directory

cp – copy files

rm – remove files

rmdir – remove directory

chmod – change mode (file permissions)

chmod ugo +/- rwx – change mode options, uso = user, group, other, rwx = read, write, execute

groups – lists groups I’m in

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A More Complete Picture

I took a break from using Ruby Monk yesterday. Instead, I spent the day writing little practice programs and looking for new learning materials. I wrote a program for each Class that used all the methods I’ve learned for each Class. These programs didn’t produce anything meaningful, it was really just testing what I’ve learned. I also wrote a couple little programs that combined different Classes and methods as well as loops and branching. These little programs actually did something meaningful.

I found a great tutorial to complement Ruby Monk. It’s Chris Pine’s “Learn to Program.” It’s also a book if you prefer a hard copy. While Ruby Monk gives a quick and dirty run down, “Learn to Program” gives a pretty complete picture & explains some of the logic behind certain features. The combination of the two is great: Ruby Monk to introduce new ideas & procedures, “Learn to Program” to develop those ideas.

“Learn to Program” also gives practice ideas at the end of chapters. I love this as sometimes I have a hard time thinking of a fun way to apply what I’ve learned. I especially like the “Deaf Grandma” exercise. I had a lot of fun making the program longer and more complex than what was suggested.

After finishing the “Deaf Grandma” exercise, I decided to program a fortune teller, like a Magic 8 Ball. Instead of the answers being the normal “Outlook looks good,” I tried to make the answers funny like “Not if you’re wearing that.” I used a random number generator in conjunction with a bunch of if..else branches to create the different responses. Right now, it has 10 responses, but I could add as many responses as I wanted. I’d sort of like to make it a huge program with 100 responses so you rarely get the same answer twice. I doubt I’ll do it though, I don’t think I could think of that many snarky responses!

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Starting Ruby

I decided to go ahead and learn Ruby. When I was originally learning C++, sometimes I’d get bogged down or frustrated and need a break. When that would happen, I would go make a webpage in HTML and feel better. So learning Ruby and refreshing my C++ at the same time seems like a good idea: I can switch it up when I get frustrated.

To start learning Ruby, I decided to use Ruby Monk first. It uses interactive “books” that let you try out what you’re learning. It checks your work as you go, which makes it more like having a real teacher. Sometimes it feels like the explanations are incomplete, like I want more detail on how something works. That’s pretty common for me when I’m learning something new, I end up taking longer because I need to answer whatever questions I have, so I have to research tangents. But I generally end up with more information and a better understanding of my subject matter. While Ruby Monk feels incomplete to me, it has been very useful in teaching me how to use a large variety of methods very quickly.

I don’t know if this is something that’s important with Ruby, but sometimes the lessons want me to make an educated guess as to what a piece of code is. That’s not something I learned to do with C++. For instance, in C++, knowing that “cout” prints to the screen might allow me to guess that “cin” takes input from the keyboard, but I probably wouldn’t guess that I need to change “<<” to “>>” as well. In Ruby, knowing that “puts” prints to the screen, I might guess that “gets” or “takes” gets input from the keyboard. After a guess or two in Ruby, I’d stumble upon the correct “gets” method. I don’t particularly like making educated guesses, I’d rather know. For me, guessing instead of knowing feels reckless.

There are some differences between C++ and Ruby I’ve found. First, in Ruby, it takes a lot less code to do something. The basic “Hello World!” program shows the difference. In C++ it looks like this:

While in Ruby it looks like this:

Even just looking at the line that prints “Hello World!” to the screen, the amount of code in Ruby is less. It also feels more like I’m writing a normal, English sentence since it’s missing the “<<” s. Ruby also uses periods and parentheses in its syntax. This makes the syntax feel like a blend of a normal sentence and a math equation. I’m not sure on this yet, but it also seems like Ruby treats everything as an object. Even if it’s not everything, Ruby uses more objects than C++. I haven’t gotten into it enough to know if that aspect makes it easier than C++, but it looks like it does.

So far, I’m enjoying learning Ruby. It feels like I’m learning it MUCH faster than I learned C++. I even feel like it’s going faster than my refreshing on C++. In just a couple days, I’ve learned a lot of methods and how to use them, more than I expected to learn. I’m going to continue using Ruby Monk & supplement the lessons with other reading. I think this will let me learn the code quickly as well as satisfy my questioning/tangent-following nature.

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May the 4th Projects

May the 4th be with you! In honor of Star Wars Day, I used Gimp to create this picture of my baby niece as Emperor Palpatine. I had a lot of fun making it & sharing it with my family today.

I spent some time yesterday practicing the commands I learned. I renamed directories, made a new directory and moved some files around. I’m pretty proud of myself for using only the terminal and for not messing anything up.

I did run into one problem that wasn’t addressed in the tutorial I used. One of my directories had a space in the name. I typed my command like this: mv Directory Name directoryname but I got an error. This didn’t hurt anything, it just prevented the name change. So I learned that for directories or files with a space in the name, I need to add quotes. Once I typed it like this: mv “Directory Name” directoryname it worked just fine.

I also spent a little time looking into learning Ruby. I did the “Ruby in 20 Minutes” tutorial and was really surprised at how simple the language seems. One bit of the coding did trip me up, in C++ you use “elseif,” while in Ruby you use “elsif.” Other than that, I found Ruby pretty easy to use. It feels similar to C++ as far as layout goes, but there’s a bit less typing.

It also turns out that one of the IDEs I’d already installed lets me edit and compile Ruby. The program is called Geany, and it seems to work pretty well. There are quite a few IDEs available on Linux, so I’ve got an ongoing project to find the best one(s) for me.

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