How to watch DRM-protected Netflix movies on an Apple silicon Mac with Linux installed
With the advent of “Asahi Linux”, it became possible to install Linux on Macs with Apple chips such as M1 and M2, but Asahi Linux encountered the problem of “Cannot watch Netflix movies”. Security researcher David Buchanan explains why this issue occurred and how countermeasures were put in place.
Finding Netflix on Asahi Linux | Blog
Movie distribution services and music distribution services use a protection technology called DRM to prevent unauthorized copying of content. On devices running Windows or macOS, many browsers such as Edge, Safari and Chrome support DRM, so there are few problems with displaying content, but there are minor issues such as devices running Linux and devices with Arm-based CPUs due to DRM, The problem of not being able to play content often occurs in such environments.
Netflix protects content using a type of DRM developed by Google called “Widevine”. However, since official support for Widevine on Linux is only provided for “using Chrome on a device with an x86 or x64 compatible CPU”, it is impossible to play Netflix content on Asahi Linux. Although there is software bypassing Widevine on the Internet, Mr. Buchanan sticks to using Netflix through ‘legitimate means’ and aims to make Widevine available on Asahi Linux.
As mentioned earlier, official support for Widevine on Linux is only provided for Chrome, but browsers like Firefox refer to the implementation of Widevine managed by the Chromium project (the open source project that forms the basis of Chrome). Widevine is supported. However, this tricky countermeasure method is only possible on “a device with an x86 or x64 compatible CPU”, and it is necessary to consider another countermeasure for an operating system running on an Arm machine such as Asahi Linux.
One of the notable operating systems that are running on Arm devices is Chrome OS developed by Google. As mentioned above, Widevine should not be supported on Arm devices, but Chrome OS does support Widevine and you can browse content like Netflix. In addition, there is a precedent that the “Raspberry Pi” single-board computer development team developed “Widevine for Raspberry Pi” with reference to Widevine for Chrome OS.
Asahi Linux is developed based on the Arm compatible version of the “Arch Linux” Linux distribution. As a result of Buchanan’s investigation, it turned out that there is a Widevine package developed for Arch Linux that is compatible with Arm. This package is not officially supported by Arch Linux, but installing it will allow you to watch Netflix content without problems.
If you can use Widevine with Arch Linux for Arm, you can easily use Widevine with Asahi Linux. However, Asahi Linux had a problem that the page size was 16KB, and it was impossible to run Widevine, which was developed on the basis of 4K page size, as it was.
Therefore, Buchanan developed a patch to make the “Widevine package for Arch Linux for Arm” compatible with 16K, and contacted the package maintainer to integrate the patch. As a result, Asahi Linux users can now view Widevine-protected content by installing the package.
However, Netflix also checks the browser’s user agent, so it was impossible to view Netflix content just by installing the above package. So, Mr. Buchanan used the Chrome OS user agent shown below to impersonate Chrome OS and successfully browse Netflix content.
Mozilla / 5.0 (X11; CrOS aarch64 15236.80.0) AppleWebKit / 537.36 (KHTML, same as Gecko) Chrome / 109.0.5414.125 Safari / 537.36
However, in the above method, the movie resolution is limited to a maximum of 720p. As a countermeasure to this problem, Mr. Buchanan has introduced a “Netflix 1080p” browser extension that can automate the “request to play clearly in 1080p” process. As a result, the “play Netflix movies in 1080p on a Mac with Asahi Linux” environment is finally realized.
As originally planned, it has successfully played Netflix movies on Asahi Linux. However, “it’s significantly easier to use a torrent client (download illegally downloaded Netflix movies) than to support DRM,” Buchanan said, and DRM, which is supposed to protect content, prevents illegal downloads. He points out that it leads to encouraging results. Moreover, we ask Google to officially support Widevine for Arm Linux.
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