Pipelight: Windows Plugins in Linux Browsers

von Michael Mller (Pipelight-Team), Sebastian Lackner (Pipelight-Team), Erich Hoover (Pipelight-Team)

Pipelight is a project founded at the end of last year, based on Wine, that allows people to use Windows-only browser plugins in Linux browsers. In its current incarnation it can be used to run a large variety of plugins, such as Silverlight, Unity3D, Flash, and a lot others. This support even extends to watching DRM protected video content (like Netflix) or playing browser-specific games on a Linux machine, cases where no Linux alternative currently exists. Pipelight can also be used for a lot of other applications, like school websites in the Netherlands (that only work with Silverlight installed), or Chinese online banking (which requires special ActiveX applets to be installed). We will give a short demonstration of various purposes where Pipelight might come in handy.

Afterwards we will provide some basic explanations how Pipelight works, and how we managed to combine both Linux and Windows software in a single project. Pipelight consists of two parts, which are connected to each other. We will talk briefly about how the direct integration into the browser works, and how Pipelight has improved over time. This should give users a basic understanding on how Pipelight works even if they are not familiar with Wine. The result is very transparent, so that once its installed, you don't have to worry about the technical details, and it basically works out of the box just like on a Windows machine.

For those of you that are interested in trying out Pipelight we will also explain how the installation works, what the system requirements are, and how you can tailor the plugin performance for your system. We will also cover solutions to a variety of common configuration issues encountered by first-time users. For users that are also concerned about the security of their machine Pipelight also offers some (experimental) sandboxing mechanisms, this feature can be used to separate the untrusted plugin code from the rest of the system. We will demonstrate how to configure the sandbox, and discuss briefly how the sandbox protects the system.

Last but not least we will explain some details about the future of Pipelight. We will show some solutions how Pipelight can survive even if browsers end up dropping NPAPI, and various other features we are planning to implement in later versions.

Über den Autor Michael Mller:

Michael Mller is a developer and Linux enthusiast who loves to tackle difficult problems. Besides studying computer science at the university of Heidelberg, he works on the Pipelight project, which he initiated or helps to improve Wine with further patches. If he is not currently working on any projects he shares his knowledge in his blog on topics like installing Debian on old iPAQ PDAs or how to boot the same Windows installation in either a VM under Linux or on a real system.

Über den Autor Sebastian Lackner:

Sebastian Lackner is studying physics at the university of Heidelberg and got his Bachelors' degree at the same university back in 2012. In his spare time he is developing on various Linux projects, especially Pipelight and Wine. Besides physics and information science he is also very interested in cryptography and mathematics.

Über den Autor Erich Hoover:

Erich E. Hoover received the B.Sc. degree in engineering physics, in 2007, the M.Sc. degree in engineering with an electrical specialty, in 2008, and the Ph.D. degree in applied physics, in 2012, from the Colorado School of Mines, Golden. He was a Computer Programmer and Software Engineer at dBm Optics, inc. for seven years and now works as a Senior Research and Development Scientist for Insight Photonic Solutions, Inc. In his spare time Dr. Hoover enjoys spending time working on the Wine project, most recently on improvements to Silverlight/PlayReady support for streaming services such as Netflix, LOVEFiLM, and Maxdome.