We have been having issues playing back new content on TVNZ On Demand due to their accepting a new DRM protected video format for their service.

This has only happened in the last few weeks and confirmed by their techs. From the text of their email to us when we notified them of the error, they do not have a fix and only suggested a starting point for some potential solutions.

It appears that it is the HAL module that is the sticking point.

Following the Adobe link provided, correctly mentions that the HAL module is the missing piece, but the instructions to install it do not work. It appears that the HAL module is no longer available. A “HAL-INFO” package was available, but this did not solve the problem.

After trying all of the solutions proposed by Adobe, I tried a few additional options, such as installing the Flash plugin provided as an installable package from within Mint (this did not work either)

I did some more research on the net and found the following page

http://linuxg.net/how-to-enable-the-playback-of-flash-content-protected-by-drm/

Specifically this to install a package including HAL

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mjblenner/ppa-hal
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install hal

The key thing here is that there is a PPA in the repository that contains HAL. Since trying to install HAL by itself fails, this packaged version includes the HAL libraries.

Interestingly, there was a mention in the output of the installer about “Keeping HAL alive” so it does seemt o be in response to the demise of HAL as an installable piece in it’s own right

With all of my trial and error, I have not gone to a clean system and installed just the above PPA to test it outright. However, I am pretty confident that this PPA will resolve the issue.

8 thoughts on “How to fix DRM playback issues on Linux

  1. The hal module does seem to fix this for Firefox, as already noted it does not fix it in google chrome.

    I haven’t been able to solve this myself yet, but for anyone else trying to do so here are some useful breadcrumbs I’ve picked up, hopefully someone else will have more luck with this than I’ve had.

    Firstly, Chrome bundles it’s own version of Flash. This explains why this fix works for Firefox and not for Chrome. INstallation of the HAL module affects the system installation of flash, not Chrome.

    The Peper flash bundled with Linux Chrome does not have the necessary DRM functions where as the version bundled with Windows Chrome does. Googles docs indicate that Viewing Adobe Access (DRM) content is not supported, since Adobe does not support it on Linux.. Presumably because of some licensing deal

    Adobe Recommends switching to the system flash. On the surface of it this should work as it would use the same version of Flash fire fox is using, so would pick up the HAL module and work with the DRM.

    Firefox makes use of the NPAPI plugin architecture, and this is what the flash plugin implements. Chrome used to support this as well but has an alernative PPAPI plugin architecture which is preferred.

    Google is currently in the process of removing NPAPI support from Chrome. It appears that this support was removed from Linux Chrome in version 35 (May 2014), which is why it’s no longer possible to use the flash plugin from Adobe as suggesed above.

    So that at least explains why it doesn’t work but is not so much help with geting it going.

    The comments on this chromimum issue suggest that the version of pepper flash packaged with Chrome for Chrome OS used on Chromebooks does include the DRM components. As Chrome OS is basically linux it’s suggested that it may be possible to use this version of pepper flash with Linux Chrome.

    I have yet to try this myself, but it seems like it may present a path forward.

  2. Hi there Ed, great post, thanks for commenting, I have done more looking as well, including Moonlight to try and address the Silverlight issues as well (Local NZ TV sites like Lightbox use Silverlight as it’s DRM architecture. Interestingly, Netflix have come to the party and their DRM system is now natively supported in Chrome on Linux (37 or later) I assume other providers will catch up soon enough.

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