Watching YouTube Videos in Whonix ™

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Youtubelogo.png

Introduction[edit]

To watch Youtubelogo.png YouTube videos anonymously, users have three options:

  1. Watching videos directly in Tor Browser Icon Tor Browser via the YouTube or Invidious websites.
  2. Downloading videos -- for example via the youtube-dl logo youtube-dl command line downloader, Invidious or YouTube video download sites -- and then watching them in VLC Media Player Icon VLC Media Player (pre-installed).
  3. Using the YouTube URL to watch videos directly in MPV logo MPV or VLC Media Player via the network streaming option.

Tor Browser[edit]

Tor Browser Icon

YouTube Website[edit]

Watchingyoutube.jpg

To watch videos directly on the YouTube website, use Tor Browser.

Figure: YouTube in Whonix ™ Tor Browser

Youtubeinqubeswhonix.png

It is common to experience "buffering issues" (interrupted video playback) because Tor is slow. A simple workaround is to pause the video when it first starts so it can "buffer". This allows enough of the upcoming video playback to load in advance for an uninterrupted viewing experience. Alternatively the videos can be downloaded instead and watched in a media application like VLC Media Player, rather than relying upon an online internet connection with the YouTube website. To stream videos:

  • Set the Tor Browser security slider to the "Safer" settingclick the "script blocked" icontemporarily allow JavaScript for youtube.com [1]

Video playback is usually dysfunctional if the security slider is set to the "Safest" level. Higher security settings might work at a later time, so readers are encouraged to edit this page if the situation changes. In late 2021 it is common for YouTube to report 'suspicious network activity' when attempting to stream videos in Tor Browser (due to the detection of Tor exit nodes in use).

Invidious[edit]

It is strongly recommended to utilize Invidious (project homepage) as an alternative front-end to YouTube. Note that at the time of writing, the primary invidio.us site presents with a message stating it has closed down as of 1 September, 2020. However a number of alternative instances are available and have been tested to work in late 2021:

  • invidious.snopyta.org
  • yewtu.be
  • invidious.kavin.rocks (.onion)
  • invidious-us.kavin.rocks
  • vid.puffyan.us (.onion)
  • ytprivate.com
  • invidious.silkky.cloud
  • invidious.exonip.de
  • inv.riverside.rocks
  • ytb.trom.tf
  • y.com.cm

As this list will become outdated, it is recommended to also check the register of public Invidious instances and associated onion services here and here.

Invidious is more lightweight than YouTube itself and comes with many additional features such as a video download option and onion addresses. Also, it does not present the user with login prompts or terms of service messages.

Figure: Invidious in Whonix ™ Tor Browser

Invidiousexample.png

Media Player Streaming[edit]

MPV[edit]

MPV Icon

Installation[edit]

The MPV Icon MPV video player can be installed to stream videos from Youtube or Invidious without enabling JavaScript.

Install package(s) mpv.

A. Update the package lists and upgrade the system.

sudo apt update && sudo apt full-upgrade

B. Install the mpv package(s).

Using apt command line parameter --no-install-recommends is in most cases optional.

sudo apt install --no-install-recommends mpv

C. Done.

The procedure of installing package(s) mpv is complete.

Usage[edit]

After locating the relevant video, copy the URL and run.

mpv your URL

VLC Media Player[edit]

VLC Media Player Icon

A simpler option is to use a media player, VLC Media Player Icon VLC Media Player which comes pre-installed in Whonix ™:

  1. Locate and copy the relevant video URL.
  2. Launch VLC Media Player.
  3. MediaOpen Network Stream...Paste the URLPlay

Figure: YouTube Streaming in VLC Media Player

Vlcnetworkstream.png

Troubleshooting[edit]

General Issues[edit]

Troubleshooting-114197640.jpg
  1. "Forget" about Whonix ™ for a moment and imagine you had never heard of the platform. Test this using the virtualizer software (such as VirtualBox, KVM or Qubes) without Whonix ™ being involved first.
  2. Try a VM other than Whonix ™ such as Debian bullseye.
  3. If the issue persists, this means the root issue is not caused by Whonix ™. Therefore it is recommended to attempt to resolve the issue as per the Free Support Principle.

VirtualBox[edit]

VirtualBox Logo

VirtualBox logo VirtualBox users should note that video performance might be slow. For a possible solution, see: VirtualBox, Troubleshooting: Slow Video Playback.

See Also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. It is normally unnecessary to allow JavaScript for other domains.