How to Use Sky Go (and other Silverlight 5+) Video on Ubuntu (and other) Linux

This tutorial describes how to get SkyGo working on Ubuntu Linux. Other linux distros may work, as may other video services, such as Netflix, NowTV, though it will be most successful for those that use Silverlight.

As my long winded title suggests, this tutorial will allow the potential online video viewer who has made the decision to use the free Open Source Operating System, Ubuntu, rather than a closed source OS, to actually watch video online when it is in the format Silverlight 5+ (currently, at the time of writing, we’re on Silverlight 5.1).

Previously, those of us who save money, time, hassle, and headaches with our business and home computing by using Linux distros, like Ubuntu, were unable to get some video services online using our Linux browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Chromium, etc).

Silverlight Won’t Work on Linux

Services like Sky Go and Netflix use modern versions of the closed source proprietary (Microsoft) software, known as Silverlight.

Linux users attempting to watch Sky Go (UK) online were sent to a (now dead) download link for the Moonlight plugin which would allow playback of Microsoft Silverlight versions up to Silverlight 4.0. This was, therefore, not very helpful!

The Solution is Pipelight

But there is a solution, which takes only a few minutes. Fair warning, though, you might break something, so backup, and be careful before you get started.

The solution is to install a new Linux based Silverlight PPA (Personal Package Archive) which is known as Pipelight onto your Ubuntu system.

How to Install Pipelight

Step One – Close Browser

Important! Close ALL your browsers. Yes, that includes this one. Copy these instructions into a TEXT EDITOR.

Step Two – Remove Pipelight

Remove any old versions of Piplight you might have installed using the following command:

sudo apt-get remove pipelight

Step Three – Get & Install Pipelight

Get the repositories and install pipelight

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ehoover/compholio
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:mqchael/pipelight
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install pipelight-multi

Step Four – Install / Enable Plugin

Install the plugin:

sudo pipelight-plugin --enable silverlight

The above will install Silverlight 5.1. If you require Silverlight 5.0 instead, then use the following command:

sudo pipelight-plugin --disable silverlight --enable silverlight5.0

Step Five – Spoofing Sky Go / Netflix (or whatever)

Now that you have Silverlight 5.1 installed (and you can test it here), you should be able to actually watch Sky Go or Netflix in your Firefox (or Chrome) browser. HOWEVER, those systems will think you are using a non-compatible Linux browser. You need to emulate, spoof, or otherwise con these systems into thinking you are using Firefox on Windows.

This can be achieved on Firefox by installing a plugin called “User Agent Overrider” and then setting Windows / Firefox as the user agent.

On Chrome, you can do the same with the “User Agent Switcher” extension – select Firefox 15 as the browser in this.

Did this (Not) Work for You?!

Leave a comment below with your experiences, and I will try to help you get this working!

It should only take 10-15 minutes to do the above…

[UPDATE – March 24 2014 – Have found that this works best re Sky Go on Ubuntu Linux when the browser employed is Chrome, and the plugin spoofs Firefox 15 for Windows. This always results in good performance (even, incidentally, with a relatively low RAM machine). However, note that when web videos are played on this setup via the on demand (not live) service, videos don’t seem to be able to restart from where you left off… they will only play from the start, which could be frustrating in a long movie, for example! Also, some channels don’t play so nicely on the live mode – leave comments below if this matches your experience, and help the Linux community to learn through shared successes!]

27 thoughts on “How to Use Sky Go (and other Silverlight 5+) Video on Ubuntu (and other) Linux”

  1. The above commands should be typed exactly as written into your terminal window.

    Also, be sure to read up on Pipelight, which is:

    “Pipelight is a special browser plugin which allows one to use windows only plugins inside Linux browsers. We are currently focusing on Silverlight, Flash, Shockwave and the Unity Webplayer. The project needs a patched version of Wine to execute the Silverlight DLL.”

    Good work!

  2. Note that I *think* ITV Player also uses Silverlight (or used) – as it is now also playing on Ubuntu (not tested before), this solution may work for that.

    The Flash installation / browser emulation using Pipelight may help with a number of flash based video viewers.

    There are few limits to where we can get with various Linux distros…

    • ITV Player changed to Flash from Silverlight a couple of years ago.
      I installed Ubuntu yesterday having given up on previous attempts(many years ago) as I couldn’t work out how to install things not in the Software Centre. I installed Sopcast and Rubyripper surprisingly painlessly and quickly and if i can get this working I can’t think when I will ever need to boot up Windows 7 again.

      • Thanks Simon, I don’t really use Ubuntu machine to watch video, just had to setup Sky Go on a Ubuntu laptop to allow a family member (with a subscription) to watch online!

        I tried Channel 5 and still cannot get that to work on Ubuntu, but it doesn’t work on a variety of platforms… (and who watches Channel 5 anyway 😉 ) so that’s 4 out of 5 free to view TV channels, plus most of Sky…

        On a free OS.

  3. Many thanks for this, works a treat although it failed to recognise my device, so had to remove/ add device. Apart from that it is brilliant, now I am trying to sort out my usb tv card to watch tv when not wanting to use sky go!



  4. Yes! Sky Go now working which was just about the only thing I was missing since moving to a Linux PC a couple of years ago.

    I can get Lovefilm to get to a point where it will let me stream a film but then it says I have a 6030 error. Its not really important as not used Lovefilm before just that now Amazon are bundling in Prime I can have access if I can get it to work. Initial research suggests I need Silverlight 5.1 for Lovefilm whereas I need 5.0 for Sky. I might just leave it at 5.0

  5. SkyGO (Germany) still recognizes my browser as LINUX even though I installed the user agent override plugin (Firefox).
    Videos do not play (unknown error).
    Browser identification change worked, though. No clue what it is.

    • Hi Chris, try a different plugin, or switch to Chrome / Firefox (one to the other) and try that. It sounds like something’s not quite right with your user agent overrider (also note you need to “turn on” the user agent overrider by clicking it – though this depends on which one you are using). Sounds like you are nearly there! Keep trying.

  6. Hi,
    skygo(germany) recognize my Browser as Windows but it does not work. The systemcheck is also ok. But there’s always an unknown authantification failure.
    Pipelight/silverlight works and netflix Videos are played well.

  7. I am trying to get Amazon Prime video streaming working on Ubuntu 14.04, so far not working. I followed your instructions to install Pipelight and still nothing. I have tried Firefox and Chromium. Chromium has Flash 15 installed, although Ubuntu only has 11 which means Firefox can only use Flash 11.
    I was able to use it perfectly on a friend’s laptop running Linux Mint 13 (which is now quite old) so why I wonder does it not work on my Ubuntu 14.04?

  8. thanks for the article!
    i have an issue i hoped you could offer insight on.
    i start with very high quality streaming, then 4-8 seconds later the quality drops, and then a further 4-8 seconds later quality drops again. is there a way to maintain high quality?

    solved through luck before submission! 🙂
    i disabled application storage.

    • Hi Tom,

      It is likely to still work – in principle – but note that the repository locations, and the Silverlight (pipelight) versions may well have moved on a bit since this was posted.

      That said, the “update” command will do just that!

      If this doesn’t work to download the various bits, it will use up about 3 minutes to go and find a new download source, but the instructions should still work – the commands will be valid!

      Best of luck with this.

  9. With Firefox 52 dropping NPAPI support it will no longer work. I have not found any other way at the moment then running Windows in a VM.

  10. When I try to insert this command

    sudo apt-add-repository ppa:mqchael/pipelight

    I receive this error

    This PPA does not support xenial’
    Cannot add PPA: ”This PPA does not support xenial”.

    I’m running Linux Mint 18.3 64bit

  11. This didn’t work for me. When I add the line “sudo apt-add-repository ppa:mqchael/pipelight” I get an error message “The repository ‘ bionic Release’ does not have a Release file.
    N: Updating from such a repository can’t be done securely, and is therefore disabled by default.
    N: See apt-secure(8) manpage for repository creation and user configuration details.
    E: The repository ‘ bionic Release’ does not have a Release file.
    N: Updating from such a repository can’t be done securely, and is therefore disabled by default.
    N: See apt-secure(8) manpage for repository creation and user configuration details.”

    This is the correct repository?


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