Linux users with Intel HD Graphics 5000, here’s how to view smooth streaming video in a web browser

Some satellite backend systems and advanced receivers offer a web interface, where you can connect using a web browser to perform various administrative tasks, but in some cases there is also an option to view live streams or recorded content. If you click on that, often it will attempt to launch an external player (typically VLC) but in a few cases it may attempt to send the video right to the browser. If that happens and you are running Linux (as some of us do on our media center computers), and your system has an Intel HD Graphics 5000 GPU, you may find that the video is rather jerky or pixelated. The same thing may happen if you attempt to play videos directly from online sites, such as YouTube. The reason is that the Linux versions of web browsers, such as usual default Firefox browser, typically don’t utilize the hardware acceleration of the GPU.

However, it appears that recent stable versions of the Google Chrome browser (version 40.0.2214.91 or later) do support hardware acceleration on Linux-based systems “out of the box”, with no settings to change. This is great news for those of us with systems that have the newer Intel graphics. The hardware acceleration in Chrome may also support other GPU’s, but I cannot be certain of that.  It’s worth a try if you are experiencing this issue, though.

To install Google Chrome in Linux, use your current browser and go to the download page and make sure it is offering a Linux version (if not, click on the link “Download Chrome for another platform”). Select your version of Linux from the list and click the install button. If you are using Ubuntu, it should download a file with a .deb extension and offer to open it in Ubuntu Software center. Allow it to do so and let the install proceed. You may have to type in your user password, and don’t worry if the progress bar appears to freeze up for a minute or so, eventually it should finish.

When it is finished it may say that Chrome needs to be run by typing a command line in a terminal window but at least in Ubuntu, that is not true – you can use the Ubuntu Launcher, just as you would with any other program. Just start typing “Chrome” or “Google” (without the quotes) in the search window and it should appear, like this:

Chrome in Ubuntu

Once you have launched Chrome you can right-click on its icon in the Launcher menu bar and select “Lock to Launcher” from the dropdown, then move the icon to whatever position you like (such as just above or below Firefox) so it will always be instantly available.

If you are running an older version of Chrome and for some reason are adamantly opposed to upgrading (why???) then the information in this thread on the Ubuntu forum may be of some assistance.