Enabling Silverlight in Firefox

This method relies on the use of an independent session of Wine, running concurrently with Firefox when any Silverlight media is used. If you do not wish to use Silverlight in this way, then this method is probably not for you.

A whole whacktonne of websites still use Silverlight. Why, I do not know. But they’re there, and if you’re a Linux user who needs to access Silverlight content, then this guide may help you to access that content.

#Wait, what’s Silverlight?
Silverlight is a web application framework similar to Flash that allows developers to create multimedia experiences for different websites. Despite how awesome Silverlight has been, due to the advent of HTML5 and lack of developer interest Silverlight has been a depreciated standard since 2012, with major development ceased in 2013, and EOL in 2021. You would think web admins would get the message by now but not everybody has. Until then, there have been two workarounds for Linux users; Moonlight by Mono, and Pipelight by FDS-Team.

Since Moonlight has, no pun intended, went into the dark, Pipelight is the only way to use anything that relies on version 5.x of Silverlight. Also, since Google Chrome has ceased NPAPI support, you’ll need to use Firefox if you want to view any content that still relies on Silverlight.

#Putting Argent Energy into your hands
(Yes, that is a DOOM reference. Don’t judge me.)

To install Pipelight, perform the following;

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:pipelight/stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install --install-recommends pipelight-multi
sudo pipelight-plugin --update

Seems simple so far, right? But after all of that, you’ll need to enable use of Silverlight.

sudo pipelight-plugin --enable silverlight #Agree to licensing, but DO NOT touch wininit
pipelight-plugin --create-mozilla-plugins #In case you don't see the Wine dialogs

If all went well, you should see some prompts about Wine downloading and installing Silverlight 5.1. But you’re not done yet. Do the following to refresh the plugin database, since at least in my experience, Silverlight does not show in Firefox right away;

  • Go to about:support and open your profile directory.
  • exit your browser
  • delete from your profile directory pluginreg.dat

After you re-open your browser, test Silverlight with Bubblemark.

#About touching wininit
From the Pipelight website;
You will be asked to accept the licenses required to install Silverlight and its dependencies which is necessary in order to continue. Moreover, you will also be told that you can optionally accept the license for wininet by creating a special file. Don’t do this until you know how to revert back. This is only required in some rare cases (if you want to use Microsft Lync or a service requiring NTLM authentication via HTTP) and will break some more common use cases like Amazon Instant or other VOD services.

#Websites relying on Silverlight 5.0
To disable Silverlight 5.1 in favour for Silverlight 5.0, just in case you happen upon that one website that says you need an older revision; perform the following command;

#Go to about:support and open your profile directory again
sudo pipelight-plugin --disable silverlight5.1 --enable silverlight5.0
#Delete pluginreg.dat again just to be safe.

To go back;

#Go to about:support and open your profile directory again
sudo pipelight-plugin --disable silverlight5.0 --enable silverlight5.1
#Delete pluginreg.dat again just to be safe.

Simple as that.

#Information sources


I did a little gaffe at the end. Also, since Pipelight is no longer about Silverlight alone, you may want to consult Pipelight’s selection of plugins to enable the following;

  • Adobe Flash
    (I recommend you follow my guide for Pepper instead, unless all other methods of enabling Flash has failed your intended task.)
  • Shockwave Player
  • Unity Web player
  • Widevine
  • npactivex (ActiveX)