Netflix Woes

[Edit: If you are here to get some ideas on how to get Netflix streaming working, go to this article instead to see what finally worked for me.]

I’ve been meaning to post this article for awhile, but RL got in the way.  In any event, after performing my 10.5.6 upgrade I was very happy that, once again, I had a fully functional Hackintosh.

And then I broke it.

As some of you may be aware, that Netflix now supports Macs in their movie streaming service.  Since every workstation in the house is a Mac of one variety or another, I thought that joining Netflix to stream, albeit older, movies would be pretty cool.

Little did I know, this would lead me to a small tour of Hotel Grief …

A little warning when using the Netflix service – you can only have 4 devices per week (as of this article writing) registered with Netflix.  A ‘device’ isn’t necessary a separate device, say a Blu-Ray disc player, a Xbox 360, and a PC/Mac.  Oh no — a ‘device’ is registered down to the browser level!  So if a Mac uses both Safari and Firefox to stream movies in the same week – that’s TWO devices.  Only Tech Support can help with resetting that count.

What got me into trouble was that the Netflix streaming service was not playing on my Mac– So I had to try to fix it.

At first I thought it was the installation of Microsoft Silverlight had gone badly.  The default installer that Silverlight comes with reports my machine as a PowerPC and will not install.  A little Googling around and there were some ingenious and helpful people on the internet that repackaged the Silverlight installer to bypass the cpu check. I got Silverlight installed on the machine and was able to go a number of Silverlight-enabled sites on the internet with no issues.

Given that Silverlight appeared to be running, I went to Netflix and attempted to watch a movie.  Upon launching the Superman:Doomsday (alright quit giggling, it was the first movie on the page) I received (the infamous) -8125 DRM error right after the Silverlight attempted to contact the Netflix DRM servers.  Figuring that this was because of the Silverlight installation, I manually removed Silverlight (see the Microsoft website for directions – it’s not a Mac-friendly uninstall.  Even AppCleaner didn’t get all of it) and reinstalled it about a dozen more times.  No dice.

In my troubleshooting efforts, I went to the real Macs and attempted the same process and got a different error – basically the little tip above about a limited number of devices.  So I (sheepishly) called tech support and was informed about the limitation of devices.

Now get this, it was Netflix tech support that brought up the fact that they saw my account had a number of -8125 errors and asked if I needed help fixing those.  A) I was surprised and ecstatic that there was a person on the line from a large corporation that WENT OUT OF THE WAY TO HELP! B) un-nerved because now I know they can see what I’m watching and when (oh yeah, and since then, I found out they see how MUCH of a movie you’ve seen as well… scary they track that…)

At this point I’ve done a ton of Googling and wasn’t getting anywhere with the error on my own.  Everyone else that I’ve encountered online Netflix/Silverlight either works right out of the box, or they had to mess with their kernels, etc.  Sorry, I love my hackintosh – I try not to play with kernels and kexts unless I’m forced to.  So, I took Netflix’s tech support up on their offer for help.  Of course, I didn’t mention that I had a hackintosh.

The tech had me run a number of diagnostic items on my machine.  Here is a copy of the email he sent me:

After running both commands, my machine returned — NOTHING.  So it looks like Silverlight was installed incorrectly, or just wasn’t behaving as expected.  At this point my incident was being escalated to 2nd level support and the tech sent me another email asking some specific system questions.  First question:  Was this a real Mac.  lol.

Well, I tried to disengage from the entire thing by answer all the questions but that Real Mac question and tried to down play the situation so that we didn’t need to continue further as I was getting a Roku box in the next week and didn’t really need to use this service on my Mac.  And here is a term I don’t use frequently: FANATICAL SUPPORT.  That’s what I encountered next.  Over the next week or so – and even on New Year’s Day, I got phone calls, and emails from their tech support trying to fix this problem — and not because it was an open ticket, it was because they were very interested in fixing the problem.  GOOD ON YOU NETFLIX!

I put an end to the support call by sending them an email saying that I was working on a hackintosh and I didn’t expect any additional help – but if they were willing I’d continue.  They said that the situation was unfortunate and they couldn’t support me.  But still!  Great support guys, seriously.

So to date, still no working Netflix on my hackintosh.  I believe it is with the installation/configuration with Silverlight.  Other hits on the internet are saying it’s something with the airport utility update, or kernel issues.  At this point, I don’t know and I don’t care.  I got my Roku box and I’m happy with that.


Edit:  If you are looking for a discussion on this, check out this InsanelyMac Forum thread.

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