Google Widevine DRM option is grayed out in Purebrowser

Looks like Purism has changed PureBrowser to disable completely the option to watch Netflix or Amazon Prime with Google Widevine DRM plug-in. Setting Firefox compatibility mode doesn’t help as plug-ins are not available for download as extensions, except when the DRM enable checkbox is checked it will automagically download.
Could someone explain what has happened and why?

Why? Netflix, Amazon, and Google, oh my!


Could someone (else) explain what has happened and why Purism did this?

The gist of it is that DRM is inherently anti-free software, and Netflix and Amazon and the like employ DRM heavily. You can’t watch Netflix while sticking to free software, which is what PureOS does. Though if it was working before, and isn’t now, I’m not sure what may have caused the change.


As PureOS is a FSF endorsed GNU/Linux distributions it “should have no repositories for nonfree software and no specific recipes for installation of particular nonfree programs. Nor should the distribution refer to third-party repositories that are not committed to only including free software; even if they only have free software today, that may not be true tomorrow. Programs in the system should not suggest installing nonfree plugins, documentation, and so on”.

For giggles, I installed PureOS on my old Dell Latitude E6400 and ran into the same issue. You can still install Chrome (via a .deb file) for Netflix, etc. I understand why they disabled it on the PureBrowser for security.

ethics, privacy, computing-freedom


It reminded me of the old saw on minicomputer software, when I product reached a date where it became “unsupported” by the vendor. The classic response was, “Just because it isn’t supported doesn’t mean it won’t work. Run it and see what happens.”

So it looks like smd0655 installing Chrome is a workaround for getting it to work.

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Not just Chrome, but effectively any other browser can get it working, to include Firefox. (Brave, Vivaldi, etc.)


What none of you knee-jerk responders read in my message was that DRM worked before, out of the box, on Purism, in Purebrowser. So, yada yada, with all your blather Purism enabled DRM in PureBrowser. Suddenly it doesn’t. Nothing changed in RYF. Richard Stallman hasn’t had a bad dream. Purism changed Purebrowser options and I want to know why.

Any changes that we make to PureBrowser we make to make it more aligned with free software, privacy, and security goals. I don’t believe we’ve ever enabled DRM.


Oh, so now you’re going to gaslight me. In case I had accidentally changed my METAVERSE parameter (it is still “0”) I checked my Purebrowser history and found many, many links to Netflix video playbacks, so no, I wasn’t dreaming – DRM was able-to-be-enabled and working until recently in Purebrowser.

Worth a try. I mean, I understand why it is important to deny that DRM was ever able-to-be-enabled. It exposes a certain hypocrisy in the company and its vocal users, many of whom took the opportunity to chastise me for wanting something to work as before. You can’t really be all-in for freedom if you are using a browser that can enable Widevine DRM.

Calm down.

Someone already mentioned that they agree with you that it’s odd. The others chimed in with potential workarounds in an effort to help you. @jeremiah wasn’t aware of it, so the logical conclusion is that it was an oversight that has since been corrected. It’s annoying, sure, but nobody here hates you. Install another browser and let it go


I honestly can’t say what happened. My personal recommendation though is to run the Firefox Nightly Flatpak if you’re wanting to use DRM.

It should give you some of the sandboxing included with Flatpaks and the Nightly runs Wayland rather than XWayland thus giving more security benefits.


Seriously. Relax. No one is trying to gas light you. Especially not any of the ‘knee jerk’ commenters.

I really don’t understand the entitlement on forums these days. These are community forums not official support channels. Maybe it would be prudent to not insult the community you are looking to for assistance.


Maybe it’s DRM itself attempted to be friendly with your browser at the first thru hijack then locked you out until you completelty given away your privacy and security by installing malwares or certain devices that would cooperate with their DRM. It’s sort of like trying to get non-drug users hooked on free drugs until they become addicted then force them to start paying. Is open-source DRM such a thing? So you don’t know what DRM itself is capable of.

Even you’re a paying customer, FANG still always want everything you have, including your data, control over your devices, OS, etc, not just money.

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Yes, you are right. I thought it was a simple question with a simple answer. I was surprised at the responses. I should not have over-reacted and I appreciate you calling me out on it so calmly.

There is only one thing that sets me off on forums and it is lectures about how much more virtuous others are than I am, including lectures about how technically superior someone is than I am because they choose to setup ridiculously complicated systems simply to outshine their technical inferiors. I feel they should respect my comments because of my history, but of course they don’t know my history or the fact that they are one-third my age and one-tenth my experience.

Over to Firefox unsullied. No more concerns about what Purism is doing to my browser.

I should note before I stop responding in this thread that I agree with the self-righteous that the DRM option should be unable-to-be-enabled. But it was able-to-be-enabled until recently. A minor lapse in orthodoxy that should have been explained before or as it was being executed. That is a lapse in customer respect.


The lapse comes, I believe, from the way Mozilla now builds Firefox and how Debian packages it. We strive to ensure that users are free to use the software however they wish and we did not strip the ability to add DRM’d content from PureBrowser.


Who else could do that?

I get this sentiment, though I’m on the other side of the concerns. You noticed your DRM broke, I noticed my privacy broke (uBlock magically disappeared, Pocket and more appeared). Each of us for slightly different reasons but the same core one: trusting someone else to meet our browser expectations. :slight_smile:

I moved to my own compiled browser via tweaked surf and I’m certain I’ll be happier now. I do all my DRM stuff on other, disrespectful devices. :blush:

I have great sympathy for Purism for sure – they are catering to a niche market with highly elevated senses of what’s “right”, and what’s right varies a good bit.

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