NOTE: This is my initial “netflix on the raspberry pi 4 development” blog post.
As of 3-30-2020, if you want the “paste-one-line-it-just-works” go to:
UPDATE: 3-29-2020 – v.4.10.1610.6 of libwidevine – EVERYTHING CONFIRMED WORKING
Chromium has made substantial changes the way libwidevine (and a few major things around DRM) are loaded/used/etc. They have also made changes to the setting and reading of the user-agent propagation. For some time (~2 months or so) — the combination of this badly broke Netflix. It seems they have undone the lib loading in the last couple of versions, and user @Spartacuss discovered the user-agent fix.
The instructions here (as of 3-29-2020) work for: Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Spotify, Pandora, and many others.
The Raspberry Pi 4 model with 4GB of RAM is the first cheap hardware that can provide a real “desktop-like” experience when browsing the web/watching Netflix/etc. However, if you have tried to run Netflix on the Pi, you have quickly entered the disgusting mess that exists around DRM, WideVine (Netflix being one example of something that needs it), and Chromium.
After hours and hours of effort, I finally discovered a quick and elegant solution that lets you use the latest default provided Chromium browser, without having to recompile anything in order to watch any WideVine/DRM (Netflix, Spotify, etc) content.
Background and the DRM Problem
If you are not familiar with this, the short version is that Netflix (and many others, ex: Spotify) use the WideVine “Content Protection System” – aka DRM, and if you want to watch Netflix or something else that uses it, you need to have a WideVine plugin+browse supported integration. Chrome, Firefox, and Safari make it available for x86/amd64 systems, but not for ARM since technically they don’t have ARM builds.
Chromium, the project Chrome is based on, does have an ARM build, but it does not include any DRM support, and technically it does not include widevine support by default (*caveat here, which helps us later)
So long story short, the question becomes “how do you enable DRM/WideVine support in Chromium?”.
It seems there are two main solutions out there: use an old (v51, 55, 56, 60) version of Chromium which has been “patched” with widevine support (kusti8’s version seems to be the most popular one – except since the new Netflix changes, that also does not work), which requires uninstalling the latest Chromium available, installing the old/patched one, and dropping in older widevine plugins; the second option is to use Vivaldi – a proprietary fork of Opera which also has been “sort of patched”, but it still needs a valid libwidevinecdm plugin (see bellow) and it has it’s own issues (and also…it’s Opera…in 2019…who uses Opera?)
After a lot of research and trial and error, I discovered a much more elegant solution – use the extracted ChromeOS (armv7l – yay) binaries and insert them into Chromium + make everything think it’s ChromeOS (user agent)