Watch Channel 4 (UK) Live and On Demand TV in Linux

One of my biggest problems with Linux is the lack of development from Companies towards application development. OK so I understand that a smaller user base is not always viable to develop for, but when barriers are put in place to stop access to services that are available to other OS users, It feels slightly discriminating. Channel 4, for example, have dedicated apps to view the ALL4 service in the UK for Xbox360/One, PS3/4, Android, IOS, Pay TV Subscriptions like SKY and Amazon Prime. Channel 4 did put out a press release in 2017 indicating like other TV providers in the UK, they were moving away from Flash towards HTML 5, this has however not come to fruition as of yet.

Windows and Mac users can access the Channel 4 website direct, utilising the flash plugin which can access DRM Content. Linux users though can’t with the flash player included in Chrome, There was a workaround to view with Firefox and wine, or using the Hardware Abstraction Library (HAL). These methods were cumbersome to install, used high CPU usage and have since been depreciated.

Rant Over

Thanks to some very smart Linux MInt forum users and this excellent GitHub project, https://github.com/TomBZombie/Linux-Watch-Flash-DRM. There is a workaround to viewing flash.

Less Complaining More Positive Action

To build on this I’ve developed an Electron Application to view the Channel 4 website with the Workaround, Available in App image and Debian packages.

 

Introducing Four

screenshot.jpg

Four provides access to live streams for:

  • Channel 4
  • E4
  • More 4
  • Film 4
  • 4 Seven
  • 4 Music

And access to catch-up services and channel 4 series box sets.

Features:

  • Tray Icon with minimise to tray and application menu provided
  • Context menu, with cut, copy, paste:
  • The player can be undocked from the main window (Not live streams) to make a separate mini player. Menu selections from here close the player and open the selection in the main window

Uses libpepflashplayer.so from ChromeOS, taken from https://github.com/TomBZombie/Linux-Watch-Flash-DRM This enables Linux to run flash DRM content (dirty hack, but the only way at the moment)

This is my first ever attempt at developing a full application (Small shell & python scripts excluded)

How to install

  • .Appimage, download and set as executable, and run.
  • .DEB, Download and install with software center, GDebi or by opening a terminal and typing: ‘sudo dpkg -i four_1.0.0_amd64.deb’
  • .Zip, Unzip the file and run the four binary

Keyboard shortcuts

DescriptionKeys
Login to My4Ctrl L
Channel 4 LiveCtrl 1
E4 LiveCtrl 2
More 4 LiveCtrl 3
Film 4 LiveCtrl 4
4 Seven LiveCtrl 5
4 Music LiveCtrl 6
Channel 4 NewsCtrl 7
On-Demand ServiceCtrl D
Box SetsCtrl B
TV GuideCtrl G
Fullscreen (Not Player)Ctrl F
Quit ApplicationCtrl Q

Known Bugs

  • On clicking play a notice sometimes appears about ad blockers, a 10-second countdown begins and then you have to click play again.
  • On clicking flash fullscreen the player opens in its own maximized window with a blank title bar. 4 Music live is the exception as it is served from another provider.
  • When the Application starts the channel4 homepage has a gap between the window menu and the webpage menu due to a full background advert which doesn’t display, it disappears when switching pages.

For More Information visit the Github project page.

Do you use any apps or services on other platforms you would like to see developed on Linux? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

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