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Friday, August 21 2015

Restoring Hulu Video On Debian Jessie

If you're running Debian 8.1 "Jessie" and are a Hulu subscriber, you've probably just received a nasty surprise — the new Hulu DRM will hit you with an error that starts with "One time loading experience to make the rest of your life better" and then an error code. No movie. No joy. If that's what a better life looks like, I'll be quite content to stick to the not-better life I've already got, thank you very much.

I was just about to tell Hulu to take a flying... and go back to Netflix, but I haven't yet found the secret sauce that will enable HTML5 video to make sound on my system. I decided to defuckerize Hulu instead, and though it's a purely evil hack it seems so far to be working just fine. Here's what I did on my AMD64 workstation:

DISCLAIMER: Following the instructions that follow might cause all manner of horrible things to happen to your computer. Proceed at your own risk.

First, make sure that your system backups are current, safe, and within easy reach just in case things go very badly. Then:

You may need some development libraries in order to successfully make and install hal-info — being a developer I've got scads of -dev stuff already and didn't run into any problems. If you run into a glitch, you'll probably have to STFW for the solution. Please don't ask me for help unless you've got a credit card and will be happy to pay my exorbitant hourly rate.

First things first: Extract the hal-info archive, configure, make, and install it. It'll complain that you don't have a great enough version of HAL installed, but you can safely ignore that warning because at the moment you don't have any HAL at all installed.

If you don't have the equivs package installed, install it now:

apt-get install equivs

Then create a fake hal-info package to make apt happy:

equivs-control hal-info

Make the resulting hal-info file look something like this:

Section: admin
Priority: optional
Standards-Version: 3.9.2

Package: hal-info
Version: 20091130-1
Maintainer: Art Sackett 
Architecture: all
Description: Dummy package to make APT happy with source-compiled hal-info
 HAL info dummy package.
 .
 Created using equivs to get apt-happy.

Then:

    equivs-build hal-info
    dpkg -i hal-info_20091130-1_all.deb

That'll keep APT from crying about the missing dependency on hal-info when you install the downloaded hal.

Then, as root, and in the directory into which you've stored all of those heinous Ubuntu .deb files:

  1. dpkg -i libhal1_0.5.14-8ubuntu2ppa5_amd64.deb
  2. dpkg -i libhal-dev_0.5.14-8ubuntu2ppa5_amd64.deb
  3. dpkg -i libhal-storage1_0.5.14-8ubuntu2ppa5_amd64.deb
  4. dpkg -i libhal-storage-dev_0.5.14-8ubuntu2ppa5_amd64.deb
  5. dpkg -i hal_0.5.14-8ubuntu2ppa5_amd64.deb

Assuming nothing caught fire, exploded, or leaked out of your computer, you can reinit or reboot your machine and try viewing a Hulu video. It might work. It did for me.

For The Record: I always advise very strongly against installing Ubuntu packages on Debian systems, but in this case I ignored my own advice and got lucky. There's no way I'd install a full, real HAL from source because it would very likely hose up a modern Debian system — HAL has always sucked almost as badly as Flash, which I suppose is why Adobe chose to make DRM in Flash depend upon HAL in the first place.

If you give this a shot, please leave a comment below with a few pertinent details about your system and whether or not it worked.

→ committed: 8/21/2015 00:46:00

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