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Old 04-04-2019, 01:39 AM   #1
Registered: Nov 2001
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Debian streaming troubles - install Pipelight or Windows Firefox in Wine?

Since April 1st, Amazon Video no longer plays in 1080p even with a Windows user agent selected. So I am trying to find a solution that does not directly involve Windows or third party hardware. I am using a large 4K TV so 480p is not going to cut it.

Technically speaking, either the Widevine DRM is betraying the Linux OS to Amazon or there is a protected "chain" of software and hardware that is not being fulfilled. If it is the latter then the following software workarounds may not be enough. But someone has to try and document their findings.

Pipelight used to be a popular method for video streaming but it's usage has waned since the trojan horse of digital restrictions management support has come out on Firefox and Chrome Linux versions. Accordingly, the website has since shutdown and there is little current information about it and no official Debian support.

Another method, apparently recommended by the Linux Mint community is to run the Windows version of Firefox within Wine. This seems simple enough but I ran into a suprising number of errors just getting the 32 bit version to install and the 64 bit version installs but does not run.

My out of the box idea involves a Fire stick, custom programming, an IR USB device and an HDMI capture card so I would rather not go that route for cost alone. This way allows all media consumption on the Linux HTPC without changing TV inputs. Recording would be optional but I have no reason to record because everything is stored on Amazon's side.

Is there a known working combination of Wine and Firefox versions on Debian, is Pipelight still working, or should I give up and go with the hardware solution I mentioned?
Old 04-05-2019, 10:13 AM   #2
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I've had no trouble streaming Prime with Firefox-66.0.2.
I download their .bz2 package, run tar -vxf firefoxwhateverversion.bz2,
as user, and it will unpack itself into a sub-directory by the name of firefox, of course.
Then I create a "launcher" to fire it up, and it is off to the races. It will pick up
your preferences from /home/whateveryourusername/.mozilla/firefox.

Or, if you are a google fan you can use one of the chrome clones, e.g., Vivaldi.

<-- BTW. as indicated by the information to the left, this is done in Slackware64. YMMV.

Last edited by cwizardone; 04-05-2019 at 10:35 AM.
Old 04-05-2019, 11:53 AM   #3
Registered: Nov 2001
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Could you please confirm that Amazon video plays back in 1080p or higher? You know, for like a modern TV? If so, what user agent are you using? I am quite aware already of how to install the statically linked version of Firefox. As for Vivaldi or other browsers there is no indication that they have enabled any workarounds for 1080p either. Implementing a Linux 1080p workaround on a commercial browser would probably leave them open to litigation from media rights holders.

This is really annoying to me as it seems like Linux users by and large watch things on a tiny screen and are unaware they are getting shafted on streaming resolution. Either that or they pirate everything or have some weird idealogical resistance to commercial entertainment. Linux user ignorance of things like this is actually more annoying than Amazon limiting the streaming resolution itself. HD has been a thing since 1998 so it is really baffling sometimes.

I would sooner stare at a wall than pirate entertainment media. I get tired just thinking of all the clicking I would have to do to bittorrent some show, put it together, unzip it, test it, blah blah blah.

I am also not going back to a slow DVR from the cable company.

If I brought a Fire Stick into my house I would need to isolate it on the LAN because I don't trust or "own" it. This is more work along with the project I outlined earlier.

I would like to cap this post off by informing everyone to my knowledge no streaming providers support 1080p on Linux.
Amazon - No
Hulu - No
Netflix - No
Youtube (Red) - No
Youtube (normal) - cat videos are indeed working in 1080p
An impulsive and rude person might go as far as to say Linux is incompatible with video streaming because we are in 2019 and anyone but an ignorant poor luddite is not going to watch videos in 480p resolution. If you were really angry you might even say that that it is not only NOT the year of the Linux desktop, but that Linux is not even a viable desktop at all, in any year because of problems like this. Will I still use it? Yes because just like anything else all computers are really bad if you drill down deep enough.

Sorry if I am disappointed but I was really hoping someone would have an actual solution. In the days of yesteryear smart Linux users wrote programs such as DeCSS for DVD decryption but those days are long past it seems. Why would they when they can just fire up the Amazon app on their Google spy device? I am hoping some of these truths will have a "tough love" effect on some people so they can wake up and see how behind we are right now. Yes it is the fault of the media corporations that we are in this position but in the past the community has stepped up and thwarted restriction attempts and I call on them to do so now.
Old 04-05-2019, 12:40 PM   #4
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At the moment, using Firefox as outlined above, I'm watching a movie on Prime in 4K.
I have yet to view a video that wasn't available in HD (1080p).
No user agent.
How fast is your Internet connection?
Old 04-09-2019, 01:06 AM   #5
Registered: Nov 2001
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I sure appreciate your positive reply even though I should have been more thoughtful.

I have a fiber-backed business cable internet connection with 100 Megabits down and 10 Megabits up with a static IP even. I am using the proprietary Google Chrome version 71.0.3578.98 64 bit for Linux. It is fascinating that you are "still" getting a 1080p signal. For me it has been off and on again for years seemingly with wicked intentions. This is only the latest Amazon Linux streaming fiasco. I can expect one every 6 months or so. It is strange I am treated this way because I have purchased literally hundreds of shows.

I will tell you that my internet connection went down because I did not pay the bill on time and that is when the problem began. Maybe this is a perverse punishment from someone on high. Let's label this as the first potential problem.

Another problem is that even though I have a 4K TV, my 2.6 ghz dual core I7 with hyperthreading is not enough for the job. It is one of those broken laptops with Intel and Nvidia graphics. I estimate I would need a theoretical laptop with a 5 ghz CPU for 4K. I would also need hundreds of dollars worth of lead acid batteries to run such a monster laptop in an emergency. The current one uses only 15 watts. So I have set the resolution to 1920x1080 which yields good performance. So let's label this a second potential problem.

A possibility also exists of some kind of temporary licensing issue with the web browser. I have had this happen before where I needed to update, reinstall, or switch browsers. So this can be a third potential problem.

It turns out that I had the exact same version of Firefox Quantum you had recommended already installed. Besides the fact that there is no sound because I refuse to use Pulseaudio - the exact same behavior happens. The stream is limited to 480p at 1.17 GB/hour. The stream should be around 7 GB/hour with the 1080p logo in bottom left. I made sure to check things like this before posting initially as well.

Allow me to rant a moment. What is it that makes me of all people subject to such punishment? My computer is like 1 year old. Is it time for a new one? I have spent thousands on Amazon video purchases. How much more do I need to spend to see 1080p? I have things in real life that I need to get done. Why am I and only I left to implement some ultra-expensive ultra-complicated hardware workaround involving more than 10 devices to see 1080p? Why can't my Linux laptop just work?


Further testing results:
Second computer running same software - 480p
First computer set to 1080p monitor only - 480p
First computer set to 4K TV only - 480p

Wine results:
windows program installers are still typically 32 bit
to install wine32 required heavy manual package management
wine32 becomes the base wine version for playonlinux
playonlinux allows installing recent wine versions
playonlinux manual install required for 64 bit
playonlinux manual install is hidden in lower left of installer
firefox 32 - 3.20 needed/no working web pages
firefox 64 - 3.20 needed/no working web pages
firefox portable - binary not found error
firefox built in - 3.20 needed/no working web pages
This forum page talks about blank page workarounds
The workarounds are not working for me
This appdb page talks about recent Firefox compatibility
The workarounds are not working for me and it mentions that Widevine (required by Amazon) is not working
This bug page talks about a patch needed to get Firefox working
I have not applied the patch because of the work required and the talk of Widevine not working on appdb

Last edited by Jason_25; 04-10-2019 at 02:00 PM.


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