[conspire] (forw) Re: Arnold -> Rick

Carl Myers cmyers at cmyers.org
Mon Dec 21 16:18:39 PST 2009

Rick's advice is pretty spot-on.  I would add that in my experience running a
browser in wine (even firefox rather than MS internet exploder) is a real pain,
and tends to be pretty unstable.  If the user agent trick Rick suggests fails to
get you where you need to go, VMs are what I'd recommend.  I would guess a dual
core machien should be more than sufficient, too, so long as a single core of
the same type would be enough to run the microsoft OS directly.

What you would do is create a single-core VM and windows will pretty much peg
it, and your kernel and X and other linux "overhead" will use the other CPU.
You also want to ensure you have plenty of ram, probably having 3-4 GB total and
giving 2GB to your VM is sufficient.

Also, I suggest running windows XP rather than a newer OS.  Certain networks
make a version of XP available called "XP Performance Edition" which is under
300MB and has "all the crud" stripped out of it, so it runs great on VMs.  Of
course, I do not suggest running a copy of windows without a license, but I also
consider it well within my morals to use an existing "license" of XP that came
with my computer or I obtained via some other legal means to run the
"performance version" out there, since it has fewer features and is a strict
subset of windows XP.

Anyways, I hope that advice is helpful.  Let us know how it goes! =)


On Fri, Dec 18, 2009 at 10:05:24PM -0800, Rick Moen wrote:
> Date: Fri, 18 Dec 2009 22:05:24 -0800
> From: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
> To: conspire at linuxmafia.com
> Subject: [conspire] (forw) Re: Arnold -> Rick
> Organization: Dis-
> ----- Forwarded message from Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> -----
> Date: Fri, 18 Dec 2009 22:05:09 -0800
> From: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
> To: sait8so <sait8so at yahoo.com>
> Subject: Re: Arnold -> Rick
> Organization: Dis-
> Quoting sait8so (sait8so at yahoo.com):
> > Hi Rick,
> Hi, Arnold!
> > I'm the guy with the red Karman Ghia who showed up at the Linux
> > meeting a while back. Been looking into a problem and narrowed it down
> > to two questions. Thought of you because you've been around open
> > source lots longer than me and have a better understanding of the
> > issues. One's a hardware question and the other's a perspective, both
> > of which I've searched for and been unable to find.
> > 
> > Hardware: Specs: Debian/Lenny, 22" widescreen, 780G mobo (AM2/AM2+),
> > Athlon X2 5400+
> > 
> > Got a Netflix account and use it from a desktop setup (no HTPC
> > software). Instead of rebooting to WinXP each time for a movie, I'd
> > prefer to watch from the WinXP loaded in VBox. Problem is, my CPU
> > doesn't have the horsepower to do it; best res for smooth playback is
> > maybe 600x800.
> > 
> > Question 1: Would a quad-core have the power to do it? 
> > 
> > Mobo's CPU compatibility includes AM3 PhenomII x4 Deneb series, up to
> > the 925, so the selection's okay. Other than Netflix, no problem
> > watching smooth, full-screen playback online (Hulu, etc) or DVD. 
> Certainly should have more than sufficient CPU power, at least on native
> Linux.  (No idea about MS-Windows XP.)
> Disclaimer:  I'm not very current on what CPU power is required for
> tasks on Microsoft OSes, since I very seldom use them.  On Linux for
> x86 (run natively), pretty much any CPU of the last six years or so
> has the power to do real-time video.  It's so automatically the 
> case that, as long as you have something as good as, say, any P4
> whatsoever (and, say, half a gig of RAM), you just don't worry 
> about hardware.
> In fact, I used to get away with doing video playback on my 700MHz
> PowerPC G3 iBook (w/256 MB RAM) running native Xubuntu. 
> > I loaded Ubuntu 8.04 and 8.10 in VBox, installed the Moonlight plugin
> > and codecs (versions 1 and 2 separately), and both played Silverlight
> > videos fine, small or full-screen. Logged in to Netflix but couldn't
> > watch a movie: "Our apologies — streaming is not supported for your
> > operating system."  Found others posting the same problem, although
> > not in VBox, in forum threads at Ubuntu, Netflix and several lists,
> > throughout this year.
> Um, well:  Do I correctly guess that "VBox", here, means VirtualBox?
> Going by reputation, VirtualBox is not bad as a VM engine, but any VM
> engine (VMware, Xen, etc.) is going to complicate pretty much any
> software situation.  I don't know if that's your problem, but it might
> be.
> Separately from that, I have to admit that I have absolutely no idea
> what Netflix's video streaming requires.  Logic suggests that Netflix,
> since they're obliged to deal with Our Masters in Hollywood, are
> probably really paranoid about what they're willing to stream to on the
> client end.  The Hollywood boys are paranoid about losing control of
> 'content', e.g., if they allow you to stream video to an operating
> system you can actually control, you might divert the bitstream to
> disk elsewhere without DRM handcuffs.
> The paranoia has been particularly severe concerning any digital
> bitstream in HD quality, which is why all new high-quality digital 
> video connections on computers are HDMI, a, Intel hardware standard
> polluted at the design phase by Hollywood:  If the signal is
> HDCP-encrypted (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection [sic]),
> then the HDMI interface will refuse to transmit video across the wire at
> all to any device on the other end that doesn't authenticate to it as
> also being HDCP-handcuffed, and digital audio output is automatically
> degraded to CD-audio quality or less if the remote device doesn't 
> HDCP-authenticate.  
> > Perspective:
> > The above stuff lead me to the second question, about a perspective.
> > 
> > Dunno the details but... MS comes out with new video software, then
> > releases part of the underlying code to open source. Devs work their
> > butts off to get Moonlight working and do a great job... it plays
> > Silverlight videos. Ubuntu, a major distro, changes their system to
> > include the Mono infrastructure. Netflix, a major content provider,
> > excludes anyone (current or potential customers) using an open source
> > OS. 
> > 
> > I don't understand. Why are so many devs and Ubuntu all rushing to
> > accommodate an MS platform in open source, when open source users
> > can't use it?
> > 
> > Question 2: If I can watch a Silverlight video from Linux, why am I
> > blocked from watching a Silverlight video on Netflix? What am I
> > missing? 
> Speculation:  Netflix's server-end software might be trying to check not 
> merely that you're using a Silverlight runtime, but that you're on an
> OS platform that Our Masters in Hollywood wish to provide data to.
> I see from looking online that Netflix's streaming is claimed to be
> designed to stream only to MS-Windows XP SP2 or Vista running MSIE 6 or
> higher or Firefox 2.x or higher with the Silverlight runtime, and to
> OS X running Safari 3 or higher or Firefox 2 or higher, again with the
> Silverlight runtime.
> You _could_ try installing the User Agent Switcher extension into your 
> Linux copy of Firefox, and setting User Agent Switcher to send Web
> servers a user agent string of "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0;
> Windows NT 6.0)" (which is one of the presets provided with that
> extension).
> If Netflix is merely doing a Javascript call to the browser and
> verifying user agent identity, that might suffice to solve your problem.
> On the other hand, it's possible that they are also making the Web
> server query the remote Microsoft Silverlight runtime engine about 
> whether it considers itself to be running in a Hollywood-friendly 
> environment.  Of course, since the Redmondians are deep in cahoots with
> Hollywood, they would have Silverlight send back "Eeek!  Beware!  I'm 
> running on Linux."
> To get around _that_ sort of obstacle, you would probably need to resort
> to running a Win32 version of a Netflix-supported browser on Linux,
> e.g., under WINE.
> ----- End forwarded message -----
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Carl Myers 
PGP Key ID 3537595B
PGP Key fingerprint 9365 0FAF 721B 992A 0A20  1E0D C795 2955 3537 595B

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