UPDATED: Netflix Supports Open Source? Really? Where's the Linux Client?

UPDATE 10/2014 - Netflix streaming now works perfectly in Ubuntu GNU/Linux on Google's Chrome browser!! Hooray!! Thank you Netflix for embracing HTML5 and cross-platform-compatibility! 

Netflix Supports Open Source? Really?

Could have fooled me. Because, despite the recent blog entry entitled "Why we use and contribute to open source" by Kevin McEntee, VP of Systems & ECommerce Engineering at Netflix, Linux users everywhere are still left out in the the cold, clientless, and not able to enjoy Netflix like everyone else.

How can Netflix claim support for open source software while not providing a Netflix client for the most widely used open source operating system on the planet? If they're backers of open source, how is it that can Netflix shun the crown gem of open source projects, the most versatile, universal, dynamic, and successful GNU/Linux operating system?

I'm truly at a loss for what to call it, other than FAIL. It's simply not possible to take Netflix seriously when they pick from open source to use it for their bidding with one hand, and then smack down the GNU/Linux operating system as the abused step child with the other. If you're going to "support" open source, then it only seems fair that amongst your greatest contributions, would be to include access to your product for GNU/Linux. C'mon Netflix, what you're doing is poisonous to the open source community, and it's just not right at all. If you're going to tout open source, than please support it, for real, with a Linux client for Netflix.

Besides, being bad juju, there's no valid technical reasons that Netflix can't provide clients to Linux, Android, Chrome OS, or any other open source operating systems. Hulu.com has a desktop client for Linux. Even full episodes from ABC/FOX/CWTV have switched from the non-Linux friendly movenetworks player to the truly cross-platform-friendly and "works with Linux" Adobe Flash player. Any company that denies the technical ability to provide a client for the "Universal Operating System" GNU/Linux, is doing so only for political or other selfish reasons.

Actually, I'm quite glad that Mr. McEntee posted this blog entry. Because by doing so, he brought some much needed attention to the idea that when companies use open source, and even tout "supporting" it, that they should also backup their words by providing Linux clients and cross-platform-compatibility for their service.

Oh, and just so you know, I didn't come up with this idea myself. There has been quite the buzz on the Interwebs about this issue recently. From wildly popular articles like the FLOSS expert Joe Brockmeier's blog entitled "Netflix touts open source, ignores Linux", which is being re-tweeted on twitter.com by the thousands, to over 9,840 signatures at petitiononline.com asking for the Linux client. Plus, there are 24 pages of Angst at the post entitled "Netflix streaming on Linux?!" over at the ubuntuforums.org site.Not to mention all the other stories and social media fare about the subject out there. And actually, this problem has gone unsolved by Netflix for over a year , as pointed out by Ken Stark's 'The Blog of Helios' entry entitled "NetFlix, Where Art Thou?" posted back in May 2009. Finally, with the Chrome OS Linux due to arrive on netbooks within a few weeks Netflix's delivery methods are going to cause them to miss out on yet another opportunity to support open source operating systems.

So as a GNU/Linux user and enthusiast, I know that feedback works (as demonstrated in my blog post entitled "Feedback Works! ABC, FOX, & NOW CWTV Full Episodes Linux Friendly"). So if you want to help the situation, please take a moment to let Netflix know that they should support open source by providing a Linux client for Netflix. Blog about it, post comments online at Mr. McEntee's blog entry (noted above), and contribute your voice to make it happen. Yell it from the rooftops! The promotion of GNU/Linux isn't driven by a profit machine, but by people that care and do something about it. From what I've seen, the community can be more powerful than any marketing machine out there.

So what do you say Netflix? How about a Linux client to show that you truly do support open source?

Shannon VanWagner

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