How to Watch HBO Now on Ubuntu

There certainly are a lot of premium video services on the market today. You have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Instant, and just recently, HBO Now. This new service from Home Box Office is pretty great. It allows you to check out all of HBO’s content without having to subscribe on cable. Brilliant. They’ve even got an Android app and an iOS app (both of which work pretty well).

There is one thing that doesn’t work very well, though – Linux support. If you try to watch your favorite HBO content on your Ubuntu machine, it just plain won’t work, and HBO officially doesn’t support the platform.

In order for HBO Now to work on your system, you’ll need to install a program called “Pipelight.” This program makes it possible to run Windows proprietary plugins in Linux browsers with the help of Wine.

Note: this method will work on other Linux distributions besides Ubuntu as well.

Install the program in Ubuntu by entering the following into your terminal:

hbo-now-add-pipelight-ppa-to-ubuntu

After the PPA has been added, you’ll want to update your software sources to reflect the change you’ve made.

With the software sources updated, it’s time to install Pipelight.

Then, once the plugin is in your system, you’ll need to run this command to update it.

Since the plugin loads in the Windows version of Flash Player, it’s a good idea to remove the Linux one so that they do not conflict. If you need flash to browse other content, consider just using Firefox for HBO Now, and Chromium for other things.

Note: Pipelight can only be used in Firefox.

Now that the Linux Flash Player is out of the way, it’s time to enable all of the Windows plugins that are needed.

hbo-now-enable-pipelight-plugins-on-system

After that, quickly update Pipelight to reflect the new changes.

Now that Pipelight is fully configured, the only thing left to do is update Firefox.

hbo-now-pipelight-plugins-added-to-firefox

hbo-now-playback-with-pipelight-plugins

All of the Pipelight business is taken care of. Your Ubuntu Linux machine should have no issues (in the software department) playing the locked content provided on HBO Now. However, there is one more thing that needs to be set up: a user agent switcher to be exact.

hbo-now-firefox-user-agent-switcher

Download this addon to your Firefox. Once it’s installed, use it to change your user agent in Firefox. You’ll need to select the “Windows / Firefox 29” option. If successful, Firefox will tell HBO Now that you’re using Windows and not Linux.

HBO Now is a great service; it’s just a shame that it’s not possible to be used on Linux without jumping through massive hoops. I hope that one day HBO will realize that Linux support is a worthwhile endeavor. For now, it looks as if Pipelight may be the only way to enjoy the service on Linux.

What do you think of HBO Now? Would you like to see official Linux support? Tell us why below!

12 comments

  1. I’m new at Linux/Ubuntu (running 14.04 LTS) so this may be a stupid question, but I got as far as “sudo apt-get update” and then got:
    “E: Could not get lock /var/lib/dpkg/lock – open (11: Resource temporarily unavailable)
    E: Unable to lock the administration directory (/var/lib/dpkg/), is another process using it?”

    This is the 2nd time I tried to install it. The first time I got as far as “sudo pipelight-plugin –update” and then got a MS window about EULA True Type fonts that wanted me to click “OK”. I tried and couldn’t click ok in that window within Ubuntu.

    What am I doing wrong?

    Thanks.

    • When you get that specific error message in any Linux Distro is because there are 2 Package Manager running at the same time.
      You can solve that by doing these steps:

      1. Search for processes.

      ps -A | grep apt-get

      2. Then see if there any process running as apt-get

      kill that process it by using:

      sudo kill -9
      for example if process id is 2345

      sudo kill -9 2345
      then run the sudo apt-get update

      If you need to restart do so. But it’s very important that you don’t delete anything. Hope it helps!

  2. When you say “It allows you to check out all of HBO’s content without having to subscribe on cable” you mean you can view the coming attractions, not the entire movie/series, etc… —correct?

  3. That’s what I thought.
    Your article said “without having to subscribe on cable” which bewildered me.
    Thanks for clearing it up.

  4. Hi, I followed all the steps. But I am getting the error saying “HBONOW requires Flash Player version 17 or higher. Download FlashPlayer. -playbackTechError ”

    Please help.

    • Same here. This approach (perhaps in combination with whatever I did for the 10-20 other “guides” I found related to this) appeared to have worked for a while but has stopped. Full disclosure: I’m on Linux Mint 17.3, built on Ubuntu 14.04

      Netflix got its act together, when is HBO going to wisen up!?

    • Ditto. Additionally, the addon does not give the option suggested to setup browser ie. Windows/Firefox 29. Nevertheless I get the flash 17 requirement message across the top of the viewing pane. Was stoked that everything was installing smoothly. Shame.

    • The instructions say to run everything with sudo… but I don’t launch Firefox as root, so some of the instructions don’t apply to my normal user’s Firefox settings. I got this to work on Lubuntu by following the instructions then running the same set of steps as my normal user rather than with sudo. Not all of them worked, but some did, so:
      pipelight-plugin –enable flash
      pipelight-plugin –enable widevine
      pipelight-plugin –enable silverlight

      And it worked for me, though I am using a User Agent Switcher, it’s working with the setting to Default.

  5. Hi there!

    This was helpful, however, I had some problems of some of the earlier users in terms of the end result. I went from HBOGO being a blank black screen, to hearing audio on the main screen. When I have the video go from just being embedded to the whole screen, the video takes up about 60% of the screen, and then the bottom player buttons move up to the middle of the screen on the black 40% of the screen where there is no video image.

    Is there an easy fix for this? This computer had windows for a long time and I had no issues running HBOGo, so its not a hardware issue.

    Thanks for the great write-up!

  6. I should state that I am using UBuntu 16.04 LTS. Maybe there is an issue with it and it’s just too new right now? Maybe downgrade to the 14.0x LTS?

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