Using the HTML5 version of YouTube with Arch Linux

Last week Firefox began blocking the Flash plugin due to a vulnerability.  Upon visiting YouTube I was greeted with the following error.


At this point I decided to try out the HTML5 version of YouTube.  I had looked into it when it first debuted but ultimately decided to stick with the Flash version.

After uninstalling Flash, I proceeded to check my HTML5 compatibility.  HTMLVideoElement and WebPM VP8.  I should be good to go.


Unfortunately, I was only able to view videos at 360p quality.  You will also notice that I did not have H.264 support despite having the OpenH264 plugin installed.  Thanks to the #archlinux irc channel I discovered that I needed to install gst-libav and gst-plugins-good.  This gave me H.264 support.


This provided me with access 720p quality videos.  YouTube defaulted to 720p unless the video was 480p or below.  Then it provided me with the 360p version.  While I knew that HTML5 did not support 1080p quality videos, the lack of 480p was disconcerting.  I attempted to turn on MSE support but saw no effect.


Following the same article’s instructions, I turned on MSE for H.264.  While giving me selections for all quality settings, including 1080p, this completely broke YouTube and I could not play any videos.  I quickly removed the setting from the about:config.

My next issue was that the HTML5 player required a cookie to be set.  Otherwise I would receive the Flash player and my browser would notify me that I was missing a plugin.  Some quick searching revealed that adding &html5=1 to any YouTube link would cause it to provide the HTML5 player with no cookie set.  I found an extension that did this automatically and I was able to resume my normal viewing of YouTube.

Ultimately, the Arch Linux repositories were quickly updated with a patched version of the flash plugin.  I have decided that I am not quite ready to switch to the HTML5 version of YouTube.  Therefore I have updated my plugin and removed the extension to default YouTube to HTML5.

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