Life without Netflix, streaming on Linux can be awesome!

    For all the hype around Netflix it is easy for us Linux users to forget there are alternatives. Its not that Netflix is (debateably) the best, but rather its the most widely used that causes us to neglect the numerous options that are actually available to us. In this article I want to present some of those alternatives, and how they hold up against Netflix. One caveat however is that I cannot fairly compare the variety and quality of the programming selections of each service seeing as the former is too large to parse, and the latter is inherently subjective.

    First off, when we are talking about Netflix we should consider why it is that it is so dominant. The opinions will vary, but I'll present my analysis. Hands down, Netflix has the largest selection of streaming movies, but that is where its superiority ends. Though there are many services, most are either too narrow, too expensive, or lack content; thus I will not cover them since we are looking for a replacement to Netflix, and the source of its strength boils down to content and price.

    Hulu (esp. with its Plus subscription) absolutely dominates over Netflix in terms of selection for television programming. A nice addition that I appreciate is its Hulu Desktop application. Not all content available on its website is yet available for its desktop application, however it is elegant and works well. Best of all, Hulu Desktop has a native Linux version distributed in .rpm and .deb! The .rpm works well on openSUSE, only requiring a manual edit of its configuration file to let it know where the flash browser plugin is located. Needless to say, the desktop application is a serious advantage over Netflix regardless of what platform you use. This is my subscription service of choice thanks to its large library, and its embracing of Linux with its very nice desktop application.

     An oft overlooked service is Crackle which though not having an especially large selection wins in having popular and relatively recent movies for free. The disadvantage with Crackle is that you will be made to endure short commercials throughout your programming. The advertising though is brief, and not too frequent and thus I think its a fair tradeoff for their high quality programming to be delivered for free. Crackle fills in the gaps where Hulu is weak in regards to providing good movies.
    The goal of this article was not to be exhaustive, but merely to show how I happily live without Netflix and avoid forsaking my OS of choice. There are a couple other services of note covered by other authors. Those services however are of a very limited scope, indie movies, or anime for example. If you are unsatisfied by the content of Crackle and Hulu Plus, I recommend taking a look around.

Edit:
A lot of feedback has mentioned Amazon Streaming. I did not include this since it is primarilly a per-title rental service. Though they do have a subscription included streaming package, its content has never impressed me. I had some issues with their playback as well, as have other people I know. If the performance is improved then I would certainly list it as the number one source for movies to rent since it has very large volume of titles and high quality content. It however cannot beat Hulu for performance and value at this time. The playback glitches were a sever issue to me, especially if I'm going to be paying per title what would amount to a significant percentage of the price of Hulu Plus.

Comments

  1. The green used on your linktext is way too bright.

    ReplyDelete
  2. @Abhay: agreed, it makes reading, specially on white background, very difficult.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have darkened the text. It however isn't an obvious link... but thats ok.

    ReplyDelete
  4. No Hulu in Canada.....

    ReplyDelete
  5. No Hulu in Costa Rica....

    ReplyDelete
  6. Amazon Instant Video at least formerly worked well with Linux. It's been finicky to me lately due to Flash DRM, but I haven't played with it enough to say it's broken yet. With Prime membership, there's quite a wealth of free content there. (For instance, every Star Trek episode ever aired.)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hulu and Crackle => Not in Europe => this sucks

    ReplyDelete
  8. you forgot amazon they have everything netflix has and hulu.. TV+movies new and old

    ReplyDelete
  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  10. There is also the Amazon Prime subscription which also gives you access to lots of great movies and TV shows. Plus, even Youtube makes it possible to rent and stream recent movies too. I used to want a native Netflix client (even if just the Chrome Plugin) for Linux, but with Hulu+, Crackle, Amazon Prime and Youtube, it's not such a big deal anymore.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hulu is not an alternative to Netflix, they offer two completely different content libraries...

    ReplyDelete
  12. Netflix really sucks in the UK... it only really has b-movies and something released in the 90s..

    ReplyDelete
  13. oke, i'll try... you know when you was try :D

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great article, I too have had problems with Netflix and other services, sometimes with cost or quality or selection or all three. That has changed recently though, as I signed up for Blockbuster@Home through my job at DISH. They do streaming AND home delivery for games and movies. I also got a bunch of movie channels thrown in with my regular service. Hope this helps!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Blockbuster was an issue since they don't have any form of unlimited streaming, but rather cheapish streaming rentals. I find Hulu and Crackle provide everything I need. If I did need something else, I'd take a look at Amazon or blockbuster, depending on the price.

      Delete
  15. Hulu, Hulu Plus, & Crackle have FAR too many commercials. And Amazon charges $2 per 24 minute episode--or $4 per movie. Not worth it for us. Netflix streaming library has horrible selection. We've not found a viable alternative to Netflix discs by mail yet. The up side is we're using our local public library a LOT more.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Yesterday, developer and programmer extraordinaire Erich Hoover and iheartubuntu spent several hours working out all of the Netflix Desktop kinks. Most users will have no problems with installation now.

    Here is how to install the Netflix Desktop App on Ubuntu. Open a terminal and run these commands:

    sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ehoover/compholio

    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install netflix-desktop

    Once installed, go up to the top left of your screen and open your Unity dash and search for Netflix and run the app. It will load up everything needed on the first run. After logging into your Netflix account and selecting a video to play, Silverlight should ask you to enable DRM content. Please enable. Netflix movies should work fine now :) Congrats!

    The Netflix app starts in full screen mode. You can exit out of the app completely by pressing ALT+F4. You can also press F11 to exit out of full screen mode.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hulu.....like it but unfortunately not available in the UK

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Please share your insights, opinions, or questions. In that order preferably :p

Popular posts from this blog

Dual Boot configuration for Windows 10 and openSUSE with full UEFI and Secureboot support

Dual booting with Windows 8, not as painful as expected.