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TiVo Hacked to Include Ethernet 171

snmcbride writes "Bob Edwards, Paul Mackerras, and Andrew Tridgell have hacked a 3com ISA network card into a Phillips TiVo. They've used a custom adapter to connect the ISA card to TiVo's proprietary bus. This will likely be the largest hack since adding more storage space to the TiVo became easy. A lot of people now have broadband at home, and it would be nice to pull TiVo's data via DSL or Cable." Here's a more direct link since Tivo's forums have bogged a bit.
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TiVo Hacked to Include Ethernet

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  • by NetJunkie ( 56134 ) <jason DOT nash AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:03AM (#634291)
    With a network connection you can get around needing a phone line...which is handy for some.

    For others, it means you can mount storage on a network drive to store shows on. Adding a drive to a TiVo is easy... changing a drive for a larger one is NOT. This way you can just dump stuff on a server somewhere.
  • Ok, well, maybe I didn't read the slashdot article too closely. The purpose of this is in order to download the schedule data. Oops...

    Either way, this still is NOT beneficial for TiVo. The reason being, the whole way they make money, is that they get you to buy this TiVo box... however, the money is made in the long term. You pay $9.95/month for TV schedule listings for as long as you can afford, in order to get the benefits of TiVo. They of course, make a lot of money this way, and the short term of it... the $300-$500 investment isn't their only source of revenue.

    Well, anyway, my point is, that TiVo may not like this either, since, you're stealing a huge source of revenue from them.
  • Sheesh, whatever happened to the hack for the sake of the hack? You need to read today's article in the New York Times [] on the MIT Media Lab [].

  • no I'm serious, this is a very valuable dialogue for me. thanks for teaching me about dsl and slashdot, sir.
  • ...the evil genius broadcasts the same mind-control show on every channel...

    Judging from current content, this has already taken place.


  • ahh . . . broadband enabled TiVO devices. I'm finishing the touches on Tivoster . . .
  • I think a better question is if you could hack out a NFS volume to store MPG in, or even better, figure out a way of networking several Tivo's together to share movies and recording times. I wouldn't mind having a stack of Dish recievers and Tivo's in the A/V rack all networked with video distribution.
  • wow I think you need some therapy dude.
  • Why don't one of you Leenooks wankers write something instead of pulling pud with the TiVO box?

    Oh, I forgot, that would take some effort.

  • do NOT listen to or mod UP this foolio. DSL necessitates that one simply must have a land line. You pay the $15 for a damn POTS connection as part of the basic billing. anyone with DSL CAN MAKE PHONE CALLS, and thus hook up tivos and dreamcasts all day long.

    thank you.
  • One useful thing Tivo could do with ethernet ports would be clustering. (No, this isn't the obligitory "imagine a Beowulf cluster of these things" comment)

    Take 2 Tivos and a crossover cable, now you can record 2 shows at once, watch shows recorded on one Tivo in on the TV connected to the other Tivo, use 1 phone call to update both units, etc.

    You could probably do this with 10BaseT bandwith, it would be trivial with 100BaseT.

    If Tivo included this in their units it would be a HUGE selling point
  • A ten minute warning for preparation? What do you think can be prepared in ten minutes? No, it's more like "In ten minutes you'll notice increased activity on your server. This is not an attack. The story will be visible at"
  • Then you keep the signal digital, don't need to worry about compression (or generation loss). And you can edit on the Mac/PC using Adobe Premiere/Final Cut/etc. Remove commercials, add your own commentary... your imagination is the limit. A lot of MiniDV camcorders can take RCA/S-Video input... just route your cable signal into your camcorder. Or be super cool and get one of those Sony DV decks. They're nice. :)

    Of course, then there's the problem that you only get 4 minutes per gig. But one could easily make a 320 gig (or greater) RAID array using the latest ATA/100 drives.
  • use the ethernet card that you already have and save yourself the hack! ;) [] -- networked personal television. networked based viewing of recordings and networked based of control (interface it web-based). of course, it's only windows software, no linux version at the moment... --RKA
  • Uh.. you would/could still get the info from them.. just via a faster link instead of a phone line.
  • Wow - talk about timely. Just yesterday Virgin Connect cancelled their free connectivity program and are now asking users to ship their Webplayers back.

    I got one of those for my mother-in-law, who wanted to send email to my wife, but didn't want to learn to use a "real" computer (I was going to teach her to use FreeBSD/Emacs/Gnus to read email :). Virgin asserts that the little appliances cannot be reprogrammed to use another ISP, and while I'm skeptical about that, I'd really rather hook the unit into my LAN.

    So someone, anyone, please figure out how to hack a NIC into Virgin Connect's defunct Webplayers so that I can have a neat little web appliance in my kitchen.

  • ... initially lies in the fact that rather than using a slow modem connection, you might be able to go through DSL/cable modem, thus speeding the connection, and avoiding the use of the phone line.

    The objection that "Oh, that might overpower the TiVo's limited CPU power" seems weak; if it can only update its schedule database at a "low speed," this is not fundamentally a severe problem.

    The Really Cool Idea would be if this allowed the unit to "push" archived shows off to a remote host via NFS or some such thing.

    Personally, I don't much care if this would involve basically generating personalized, encrypted "blobs," not usefully readable by anything other than the given TiVo. Having the ability to "push blobs to backup" would allow me to keep all the episodes of [whatever] sitting on a cheap disk array, or perhaps even archived out onto a 30GB tape drive.

    K001er still would be the ability to generate my own DVDs out of this, but I expect the MPAA and the TV networks would take an understandably dim view to this; that wouldn't get accomplished without a legal conflagration that would likely eliminate TiVo from the marketplace...

  • Or make PPP run over another serial link: S-Video...
  • TiVo dials up a local UUNet POP, gets an IP address and then downloads guide data via HTTP. The ability to retrieve the data is based on having an active account which is keyed to the serial number of your TiVo. There has been some discussion about how to get the guide data for free, but since TiVo is not complaining about us hacking around with it (instead of screaming like i-Opener did), no one really wants to piss them off by trying to get the service for free. Not least of which, it's unethical to do so.
  • ...forgive me, for I am not a TiVo owner, but is that all it would take to get your TiVo information from your broadband connection? Seems unlilkely to me that the TiVo is making a PPP or SLIP connection to the net and downloading it's info via some TCP/IP protocol... am i wrong about this?

    I'm pretty sure it is just a TCP connection over PPP or SLIP. It's actually a very good solution to the problem of getting program listing, software updates, and other things to TiVo subscribers. Rather than having to set up an extensive network of dial-in numbers all over the country or spending way too much on 800 numbers, it makes a lot more sense for TiVo to partner with an existing ISP to leverage their existing network of telephone numbers. This also means that TiVo doesn't have to waste time developing and maintaining proprietary protocols - they can just use the standard protocols that come with Linux. It also means that moving to other communication channels which use the same higher level protocol (TCP) will be a snap for them if they decide to sell boxes with ethernet cards, for example. I'm sure this benefitted them when they released the DirectTV/TiVo combination units recently.

  • I certainly see the benefit of having an ethernet jack (central dialup, offline storage, etc), however, does TiVo even offer their subscription data service over the internet (read: via DSL/Cable/etc).

    I understand that the dialup typically doesn't take much time at all. Its just when the software updates come over the wire that it becomes annoying.


  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:06AM (#634312) Homepage Journal

    A lot of people now have broadband at home, and it would be nice to pull TiVo's data via DSL or Cable."

    This is not just a broadband issue. Even if your internet connection is with a modem, this is just as cool, since it means that now your Tivo can talk to the service at the same time you're surfing. Multiplexing your phone line is more efficient and more convenient.

  • Haha, Jeff K. is so damn funny. I'd like to see him a do a guide on how to hack a TIVO. I especially love his guide on video cards.

  • Exactly. Pretty much the only reason I have a land line at all anymore instead of just using my cell phone is because of my TiVo. I'm definitely looking forward to being able to do this... :)

    1st Law Of Networking: Loose ends are bad, termination is good.

  • by Helix150 ( 177049 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:08AM (#634315)
    As many of you know, the TiVo runs linux. The guide data and software updates are usually downloaded in a nightly call to either a 1-800 number or a local UUnet access number.

    What has been done is set up the 'DSS' port (also a serial port) to be a linux console. Another hack has made it redirect the 'nightly call' through the serial port as PPP instead of the modem. This way you can hook it up to a box with a PPP server and a cable modem, but you only get 115,200 bps.

    This will allow the TiVo to connect to a network and get TiVo guide data without the serial port hack.

    Currently, this will NOT let people download TiVo video data to the computer. It is stored in a proprietary format that has not been hacked yet.

    Whatever support the Ethernet has in tivo, it is from hacking the backend linux part. The front end, the graphical shell that you see on the TV (its called myworld) has NO SUPPORT for this.

    As for why TiVo never put Ethernet support in the thing, it was a corporate decision. TiVo has deals with a few major networks, including NBC. These nets hate having their stuff put on the internet minus ads. Ethernet would make this easier. Since the phone connection is toll free or local, they decided to go with a phone-only system. I dont blame them.
  • Dude!

    They JUST RESTARTED the B5 series in Widescreen, like 6 weeks ago.

    Now wear this white cone and stand in the corner for not paying attention. :-D
  • meme, you're a donut short of a dozen

    "If you can't be knowledgeable, be funny"

    Be more funny! (turbosk bangs on meme)

  • It is for the rest of this planet! Well, the UK at least.

    They're selling TiVo's over here in the UK, and since we use the PAL format too, I imagine it's only a matter of time before it gets to Argentina.

  • by kindbud ( 90044 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @11:14AM (#634319) Homepage
    I'm not skilled enough to figure out the filesys format myself, but what progress has been made by others to figure it out?

    I'm waiting for the day when I can hack my DirecTiVo to offer SMB or NFS shares of recorded MPG files. If SciFi channel repeats the series again, I want to save the entire run of Babylon5 on VCD. :) If the filesys hasn't been hacked by 2nd run on SciFi, I plan to hack my DirecTivo for more disk space, so I can keep all 110 episodes on it.

    Wonder how much a Tivo with all 110 Bab5 episodes could fetch on eBay? :)

  • Not to burst your bubble, but Directivo's aren't hackable yet because they're dual drive from the factory.

    We're working on it though..
  • Well, can you run PPP through the serial port connected to the IR? You do need a serial-connected IR device on the other end, of course, but they're available.
  • This is great news - one of the things that I require before I will buy a TiVo is Ethernet support. The other thing is a program guide for C-Band (large dish) satellite service, esp. the backhaul feeds.

    Several people have talked about reverse engineering the TiVo program guide service. While I agree that TiVo should be able to make money selling a service, I also think that a little competition would be a good thing: I don't think TiVo wants to support C-Band. Perhaps somebody else will. I'd happily pay for a guide service for C-Band (I already pay for a paper guide for C-Band), preferably one I can grep for what I want to record (SELECT all from MOVIETYPE="Spaghetti Western" AND COMMERCIALS="false") (OK, that was psuedo-SQL not grep regex).

    Being able to archive programs (as provided by Fair Use ) would be nice too.
  • I know that Paul Mackerras was a key player in the first port of Linux to the Power Mac platform. Given that the TiVo is another PowerPC Linux box, it's no great surprise to see him working on that, too! Andrew is another known persona in the kernel world, I believe. Just another reason I need to get one... [grin!]

    Haaz: Co-founder, LinuxPPC Inc., making Linux for PowerPC since 1996.
  • You obviously missed the Hitchhiker's allusion.
  • Of course, the hackers would have to stay ahead of every little TiVo software update to avoid the same problems our Samba brethren get from every SP Microsoft releases

    Not really, if you don't connect TiVo to a modem, it can't call up and auto-upgrade to the new software. Right now, TiVo works fine for me, so if I could connect to a 3rd party source of TV schedules I could just stay with the current version of the software. Of course, you might argue that they could decide to add new features, but if that happened we could all just wait until we got an OK from whoever was doing the schedule conversions...

  • While you're trying to figure out your Tivo / phone line problem, I wonder if you've come across a more general solution to this - specifically, have you heard of any solutions that allow you to bridge a POTS telephone to a broadband cable connection? That would be very very cool, but I haven't the slightest how to do it. I imagine you would need one of those IP-to-telephone services, plus a hardware adapter to provide an RJ11 port.
  • *sigh* ... the day a slashdot user reads previous posts before posting their "insightful" comment on the issue ("This has been done in a lower bandwidth, therefore you are wrong to want higher bandwidth!" or "I dont need higher bandwidth, why the hell should you") I will keel over and die from a heart attack. (The excitement that some geek actually learned some social skills would send me into a fatal cardiac arrest).

    fm6, he said he wanted to play VIDEO over ethernet. VIDEO. not "a small amount of data from a T3". Try that over serial, why dont you. He wants to have his box far far away from everything else, not right next to his TV. try that over serial, why dont you. Without a "complicated kludge" external repeater. Please, PLEASE read previous posts before passing judgement on what someone else wants. and consider.. if he wants ethernet "just because" ... then that's a perfectly reasonable reason for him to work out how to GET ethernet. Nobody said that *you* had to use ethernet, or that since ethernet can be added that your serial link is useless, outdated, archaic, and no longer cool. *however*, if you think that, and dont know how to wire up an ethernet connection, and feel bad because of it, that's no reason to belittle what they accomplished.

    Please think about it, even for only a second; hey?



  • Good! I am sure both parties here stand to gain.

  • It would be nice to have Tivo in my country (Argentina PAL-N) but they're only thinking in NTSC since day one.
    Most part of the world uses PAL standards, and they refuse to gain this huge market. Why not sell the program updates thru the web and go Global?
  • finally i'll be able to see the conclusion to that "masculine itch" commercial with joe montana and ronnie lott.
  • The i-opener folks used a wrong sales model. Undercutting their costs to make up the difference in the profits form teh service.

    That model works in some situations, like cell phones, but not all, like free PCs.

    The better model for both the tivo and i-opener would be to at least cover the cost of the hardware and other expenses. Then split the profit margin between the hardware and the service so they can survive. This way they can release the hardware, and if people hack it they are still making money. This gives them some long term viability.

    Now they can develop a community around the hardware and service. They have the oppertunity to really get to see what the customers want from their services and they might even be able to include the hacks into future models, if they played their cards right. the community gets better products and the company can expand their market.

    Sorta a community based product.

  • i don't get it .. is this so you can move stufdf recorded on your TiVO to your computer?

    what would this do that an s-video jack on your video card doesn't?

    Internet killed the video star,

  • by BitwizeGHC ( 145393 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @08:44AM (#634333) Homepage
    So does this mean that Jeff K. will be able to HaX0R into your TiVo late at night? I'd hate to think what could be done with that dangerous power... maybe something like those spy movies where the evil genius broadcasts the same mind-control show on every channel.

  • Now, if they can do it to a Sony, and make a cheap kit for us slackers ... that would be something. :)
  • The real link with all the info is here []
    Mirror soon, mirror often!!

  • Wiring? Ethernet is easier to wire?

    As for speed: who cares? Tivo downloads a few K of program information once a day, during carbon-unit downtime. Does it matter whether this takes 10 minutes or 10 microseconds?


  • by Scutter ( 18425 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:14AM (#634337) Journal
    The dialup on the TiVo works just fine.... there wasn't a need for Ethernet.

    There *is* a need for ethernet. Just because *you* don't need it doesn't mean the rest of us don't. The Tivo makes one call per day. That's about 30 calls per month. Ameritech allows me 40 calls per month before I start paying for each call (the next level is 400, which tacks another $10 onto my monthly bill).

    I am in the process of cancelling all my land lines and just using my cellphone for all calling, but the Tivo is the only thing preventing that. I have DSL. Why shouldn't I use it?

    But how many know how to NAT more than one box behind their connect? Few..VERY few.

    LOTS of people can do it (and do). If you can NAT one box, you can NAT several just as easily.
  • I do not have a phone line at home. I only use a Cell phone and Cable modem. This is how many more single working professionals are living. Why is it that "connected" appliance developer can't support ethernet (with possible additional hardware purchase obviously) right out of the box? Hello?!?!

    Kudos, cool hack! Now I can get a Tivo...
  • by firewort ( 180062 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:19AM (#634339)
    Here's why I want my TiVO to have ethernet:

    I already have Cable modem. I don't want the TiVo to hog my phone line. It doesn't always dial in carbon-based lifeform downtime, sometimes it prefers to dial during daytime tv hours. annoying.

    I have witnessed several modem failures in Tivo that weren't due to lightning strikes. The Tivo forums were full of these reports at the time I purchased my Tivo. I would rather have reliable ethernet than unreliable modem.

    Best situation: both modem and ethernet availability in the box.

    A host is a host from coast to coast, but no one uses a host that's close
  • I ain't got one but I've always assumed the requirement for the server connection was to upload information on your viewing habits rather than the need to get listing information.
    Anyone know if this is true or just paranoia?

    It's a half truth. The Tivo (standalones anyway) get the guide data from the Dial-up, as well as the network showcases and Tivolution Magazine, which are just "what's hot" lists of shows. At the same time, they send back anonymous viewing data.

    The combo boxes get their Guide Data from the sat. feed, but dial-in to get those Network Showcases / Tivolution Magazine. They also send back anonymous viewing data at that time. The call is significantly shorter on the DirecTivo combo boxes (2-3 minutes).

    The reason they don't use Teletext type info: most people don't get this type info. There. Simple enough.

  • The TiVo dials in with PPP, requests the (encrypted) guide data with HTTP, gets the (unencrypted) network showcases and similar files via HTTP, uses FTP to upload your viewing statistics, and uses NTP to set the clock.

    All standard protocols. All easily proxied.

  • Actually, it downloads with HTTP, and people have used broadband (via PPP on the TiVo's serial port) for months now. Hacking in ethernet just cuts out the need for a PPP server and provides higher throughput than 115Kbps.

    The TiVo does use FTP to upload a file to their server, the file contains the 'anonymous' viewing data on what shows you have recorded/watched.

    Lastly, it uses NTP to set the clock. Without setting the clock every few days, the hardware clock in the unit will drift quickly, and you end up missing the begininng/end of shows.

  • Whether it's right or wrong depends on... whether the lawyers had thought about people hacking it.

    I reject the notion that the morality of my actions is in any way affected by someone else's foresight or lack thereof.

  • Tivo Army Captain (Usually a 'Senior' or 'Special Member' on the forum): "Wait a sec. Wait just a goddamn sec. Do you know the percentage of people who have (cable/dsl/broadband)? Do you know the percentage of people who have a home network? NO ONE NEEDS THIS HACK. NO ONE WANTS THIS HACK. NO ONE NEEDS ETHERNET. NO ONE HAS A HOME NETWORK. THE TIVO IS NOT JUST FOR GEEKS."

    I wouldn't go quite that far.

    Nobody really needs this hack as it's not useful. It's very cool, admittedly, but in terms of what you can do right now, it's just not that handy. Ooh, yeah, sure, you can get your program guide data in 2.5 seconds, but it still takes 20 minutes - 2 hours to index it. Running a webserver on the Tivo itself is fine and dandy, but man, is it ever slow (due to the tiny processor).

    The really good hacks won't need this because there's not the need for that much bandwidth on the Tivo itself. Even WITH this hack, you can only get around 250kbits/sec, so it's still a tad slow to be sending huge MPEG data, even assuming you've figured out how to get the data off of the MFS directly in the first place. Don't forget that even at lowest quality, the video is around .85 Gig/hour.

    Yes, it's damn cool though.

  • by Lightn ( 6014 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @11:54AM (#634355) Homepage
    I would like to take this opportunity to point people to my TiVo Web Project []. I've been working on this for a while and it can do quite a lot.
  • As another person observed, an Ethernet connection provides a route to use to log into the TiVo , thus meaning that, given clever software, suitable security configuration, and an always-up ingoing Internet connection, this could provide a Handy Dandy Web Remote Control Interface so I can connect in from the office and ask my TiVo to record something I didn't know was going to be on.

    (Now, imagine the security exploits possible from having a "Beowulf cluster" of these... There is certainly some dangers to this insofar as there is for any incoming "web server.")

  • by abischof ( 255 ) <> on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:19AM (#634360) Homepage
    As I don't have a land line (by choice), I previously was unable to buy a TiVo. But, I do have DSL, so maybe there's some hope now :).

    However, is this just a one-time hack, or perhaps will someone sell some of these? And, does it require a static ip, or can it use DHCP?

    Alex Bischoff

  • by Webmonger ( 24302 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:20AM (#634362) Homepage

    Dunno about you, but I want to be able to burn MPEG2 files to CD-ROM, and you don't want to copy those puppies on a serial link.

    Wiring? Ethernet is easier to wire?

    I said options not ease didn't I? Ethernet is more flexible to wire. Serial cables are short, so your computer has to be in, or extremely close to your TV room. Whereas you can run Ethernet pretty well anywhere in the house, and access your TiVO from any computer on the LAN.

  • I guess they don't make any money on me then, since when I signed up they had the $100 or $200 lifetime subscription fee.

    As for the idea that we're stealing a huge source of revenue, nah. Is turning your gasoline powered car into an electric wrong, because you're stealing from oil change places, and gas stations?

    Besides, where are you going to find schedule data in the right format? TMS offers the data, but not in the right format, and not for the PPV stations (as of six months ago anyway).

    "Don't trolls get tired?"
  • I agree that there's an issue with this...

    The fairer strategy that the "bad guys" might agree with could be for it to be readable by any TiVo that you have licensed.

  • I just thought of another fine place these schedules could be traded.

  • I used an 8mb diskonchip loaded with DR-DOS to test this out, and the Webplayer is a regular PC. What this means is that its capable of running small linux distros (they have to fit in the 48mb diskonchip, which can be safely erased now that we don't have to worry about breaking the license agreement) that support USB ethernet adapters (roughly $39 nowadays). There is still no BIOS password info that I've been able to find, which means the internal IDE is useless, BUT external USB disks are a possibility if you want to turn this thing into a full-blown workstation.
  • by migmog ( 40610 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:29AM (#634376) Homepage
    When I first heard of the tivo, I was impressed, but a little confused. Why does the box have to dial up a server (thus requiring more hw and tying up your phone) to get TV listing information when that information comes for free in the top line of the TV picture in the form of teletext data????

    This ethernet hack is impressive, but more impressive would be to hack the Tivo OS to read the teletext TV listings instead.
  • by SealBeater ( 143912 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:30AM (#634378) Homepage
    In the interest of avoiding a slashdoting, I have set up two mirrors of the information. One of the links is here []
    Another one is here []

  • The SlashDot effect is taking a toll, so I can't look to see if this is answered. The TiVo has barely-adequate processor power to do the functions it presently handles. I'm wondering if the increased processor load imposed by a higher-bandwidth download might cause problems if record and/or playback is going on at the same time. Or can the ethernet connection handling be dropped in priority so that the other time-critical functions take precedence?
  • if the data is only moving at 250kB/s. At that rate, it would take over an hour to move 1 GB from networked storage back onto the TiVo - and foget about trying to play video directly from network storage at that data rate.
  • by Mignon ( 34109 ) <> on Thursday November 09, 2000 @12:51PM (#634387)
    Well, maybe if they didn't run their web server on their TiVo they'd have an easier time handling the load...
  • Why adapt to the bus at all? Doesn't it have a serial interface?


  • So you need some way to get a small amount of data from your T3 to your Tivo box. What's the best way to do this? A simple low-bandwidth adapter? Or a complicated kludge whose only virtue is to provide a lot of bandwidth you won't use?


  • by cowboy junkie ( 35926 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:40AM (#634393) Homepage
    As for why TiVo never put Ethernet support in the thing, it was a corporate decision. TiVo has deals with a few major networks, including NBC. These nets hate having their stuff put on the internet minus ads. Ethernet would make this easier. Since the phone connection is toll free or local, they decided to go with a phone-only system. I dont blame them.

    I don't think that's the reason at all, since once their format is cracked it wouldn't be hard to just swap hard drives and upload from a different machine. Instead, I think it's simply a matter of cost. The Tivo is already a niche item, but within that niche how many folks have broadband? And since they aren't making money on the boxes themselves, why up the cost another $20 to serve a tiny audience?

  • The TiVo relies on very low-level file and partition formats on local hard drives, there is curerntly no way to add remote storage, even with network connectivity. You can't just NFS mount /mnt/tivo and tell it to save the files there, as it doesn't use high-level file formatting. Until someone writes a shim to re-direct the low level calls (which will require a complete reverse-engineering of the filesystem), and figures out a way to guarantee data throughput over ethernet, remote storage won't be a reality..
  • by Otto ( 17870 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:41AM (#634395) Homepage Journal

    Please, for crying out loud, the avsforum's aren't built to handle this load and are dying even as I type this. Someone change the URL in the story to this and/or someone post mirrors!
  • by NetJunkie ( 56134 ) <jason DOT nash AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:44AM (#634400) tells you how. Put the new drive in a PC, boot off the Linux boot disk and run a command. Put the drive in the TiVo. Easy.
  • Well, anyway, my point is, that TiVo may not like this either, since, you're stealing a huge source of revenue from them.

    Can you explain to me how this eliminates any revenue? I don't have a TiVo so I don't know for sure, but there has to be some way that it does authentication when doing a dial-in. Really I don't see any difference between modem + telephone # and eth0 + IP address. Once a PPP or other network connection with their server is established the transaction will proceed in exactly the same way. You're still going to have to pay if you want access to their server.

  • by RedX ( 71326 ) <redx@wideop[ ] ['enw' in gap]> on Thursday November 09, 2000 @10:22AM (#634405)
    The TiVo does make a PPP connection to UUNet servers nightly, where it then downloads the guide data via FTP. These FTP servers are accessible via the Internet, but the rest of the Internet is not accessible via TiVo's UUNet connection. TiVo probably won't be too upset about this hack since it will reduce some of their dial-up costs, unless somebody decides to circumvent TiVo's guide data and start importing data from another Internet source (trust me, not too hard at all). Then again, this could also be done over the current modem connection. The main reason I'm attracted to this hack is that it now allows me to add/remove/edit recording schedules on the fly without being at home and without having to wait until it places the daily call.
  • by bconway ( 63464 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @08:44AM (#634406) Homepage
    While I certainly wouldn't knock the impressive nature of hacking an ISA NIC onto a proprietary bus, there have been a few articles recently on setting up a TiVo to connect to a Linux PPP server behind a cable modem or your broadband of choice, which isn't a difficult thing to accomplish. This was discussed recently discussed in a Slashdot article [], and also make sure to check out the TiVo forum here []. Lastly, be sure to check out LinuxToday [], as there have been a few articles recently on this same topic.
  • ...forgive me, for I am not a TiVo owner, but is that all it would take to get your TiVo information from your broadband connection? Seems unlilkely to me that the TiVo is making a PPP or SLIP connection to the net and downloading it's info via some TCP/IP protocol... am i wrong about this?
  • Please remember that watching TV while driving is frowned upon in most jurisdictions.


  • by dizee ( 143832 )
    Tivo doesn't care about hacks. In fact, they encourage it.

    After all, it's yours, you bought it, money exchanged hands, you are perfectly within your right to do whatever you want to with it.

    In fact, I bet that some of the more interesting hacks (such as this one) could result in Tivo calling the individual(s) up and offering them a job.

    That's the way it should work. Tivo is a-okay in my book.


    "I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer."
  • You'll get no argument from me - I think that if Tivo had a bit of foresight they would have included it just for the geek appeal (they've already scored big by letting the underground 'hack away' at the box without bothering them).

    But I think this was a short-term, bottom-line kind of choice.
  • by JArneaud ( 25121 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @08:48AM (#634417) Homepage
    In case you want to skip the forum messages (or it get's /.ed) here is story on o-e thernet/ []
  • Hey there everyone.

    We weren't technically slashdotted. AVSFORUM had a default Apache install with the MaxClients set to 256.

    This has been corrected. I don't think UBB was taxed at all. The load ave never went above 1.00.

    We'll be ready next time...
  • But how many know how to NAT more than one box behind their connect?

    With all these < $200 "DSL" routers on the mkt, you don't need to know how.

  • The TiVo stores two weeks of data...and not just show times but Title, Description, Actors, Genre...etc, etc...

    Plus dialing up they can get software updates and lineup changes.
  • The DirecTV receiver with TiVo [] has been available for a few weeks now. It also has 2 tuners, although the 2nd tuner is currently disabled until the software is ready. There is no mpeg encoder since it records directly from the digital DirecTV feed.
  • by Dave Muench ( 21979 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:49AM (#634428)
    Sequence for the typical Tivo article on slashdot:

    1. Wow, a new hack!
    2. Click on the avsforum link just to find it's slashdotted, pissing off the people who actually are creating the hacks.
    3. "Won't this let us steal service (not that I'd do that)?"
    4. "Does this mean I can not pay for a subscription now?!"
    5. "I don't own a Tivo, but I have all these assumptions about how the Tivo works that I'd like to throw out and have disproved by anyone who knows anything about a Tivo."
    6. "What's the point, Tivo is just digital VCR. Did I mention I don't own nor understand a Tivo?"
    7. Click on avsforum a few more times.
    8. "Tivo is a dumb idea, just buy a video capture card."
    9. "Aren't they violating the GPL?"
    10. "Tivo won't like this and will stop it, even though it doesn't harm them in any way."

    -- cc on avsforum
  • SVideo is an analog format. You would convert from digital mpeg-2 format to analog SVideo, pump to your computer, and capture. Lots of potential for degradation of the picture.

    The main reason I would want it is for recording to VCD. Move the mpeg2 file directly to your computer, resample to vcd format, and burn. Perfect for permanent backups of shows you want to keep.

    Now ideally Tivo will come out with a version that has a built-in burner. Click a button and burn a show to VCD right in the box.

    Tivo - you listening ? We WANT this !

  • by Pope ( 17780 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @10:36AM (#634435)
    The Tivo is already a niche item, but within that niche how many folks have broadband?

    Wouldn't it make sense that the kinds of folks interested in the Tivo would be the same kinds of folks interested in broadband connections!?
    When I think Tivo I think "Geek Toy," like high speed internet and satellite tv, etc.


    Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Strength! Monopolies offer Choice!
  • Not that I'm interested in pissing off TiVO, but... Does this open the door for someone to reverse-engineer the guide format, and then offer an alternate guide, either cheaper than TiVOs or free? TiVO needs to put a stop to this, or get some really good encryption...

    This is certainly possible, although it would be quite a hassle for each user to customize the guide to contain their own cable lineup. Currently TiVo's guide does not contain DirecTV's PPV or pay-sports program info. An enterprising individual has come up with his own automated solution where he has a Javascript that runs on his PC, pulls the required data from DirecTV's website, formats that data to be compatible with TiVo's guide, and uploads it to a Geocities web site. The TiVo is then modified to make a 2nd PPP connection to any ISP after the call to TiVo takes place, it then downloads this DTV guide, and imports it into the TiVo guide. This doesn't bypass the TiVo guide but adds the data in addition to what is downloaded nightly from TiVo.

  • Actually, i'm not sure the TiVo people will be happy about people's plans to copy the video. So far, TiVo has supported the fact that people modify their TiVos in order to accomodate for more space. However, TiVo currently has protections in place, to prevent copying of video(as in the aforementioned method), which is an effort to curb the copying of copryrighted material. The TiVo people haven't tried to prevent us from modifying TiVos so far, because it's been mostly harmless, however, if people start to reverse engineer their video protection scheme.... I'm not sure if they'd take that so lightly.
  • No. I'm talking about TiVo owners. Most of the TiVo owners I know are just home consumer users, with zero need for an Ethernet port. By putting an Ethernet interface on a device they have to support it. Not something they want to do for the minority of users that use it.
  • ... are much more than just downloading program guide data. In fact, most of the TiVo hacking community is against that, because it would probably bring retribution from TiVo. In my mind, the most useful feature to gain from an Ethernet card is an easy way to connect to my TiVo from the internet. It'd be great if I could schedule recordings from the office, handheld device, etc. I don't know how many times I've been at lunch talking about something that's coming up on TV and realized I forgot to set the TiVo to record it. If we can get even a PPP connection on the tivo, it should be a trivial matter to write code that'll accept commands and setup recordings based on those commands. Front end it with a web server and instant remote access to my TiVo! Aside from that, this could be tremendously useful for any other potential TiVo hackers who want quick and easy access to the shell (the console port is quite slow). Even without getting listings through broadband, there's some applications for this, and I'm sure there are several more I'm not even thinking of..
  • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @10:46AM (#634447) Homepage
    For my $ TiVo was too expensive.
    and there were a number of other problems.
    TiVo didn't work well with my DISH system. The IR Blaster didn't blast very well. Sometimes picked wrong channels, sometimes didn't work at all.
    TiVo wasn't reliable, it would *sometimes* not record programs I had told it to record, on one occasion, I was recording a 3 hr movie, it cut it off at 2 hours. Rather frustrating.
    I returned it.
    Then I found out that DISH network sold a system called DishPlayer. 12 hours flat recording (because it records the digital signal directly). Since I was already a DISH customer, it was only $172, plus $10/month for the "service" (which kind of sucks, it's nothing DISH doesn't already give - guide downloads? just to enable the recording features). But it also has games, Doom, You Don't Know Jack, and Solitaire. The UI for listing programs recorded, and the recording schedule is together - unified. One of the things I hated about TiVo was that though it was easy to see what was recorded, it was difficult to get from there to the to do list. (three clicks - and waits for very slow screen refreshes).

    The DISHPlayer also has WebTV, but I'm not going to sign up for that. Unfortunately, there's no lifetime deal for signing up for the monthly service, and as far as I can tell, it's not as easily hackable as TiVo. But for me, it was far better than TiVo in many ways.
  • You forget #11:

    11. A new hack?

    Tivo Army Captain (Usually a 'Senior' or 'Special Member' on the forum): "Wait a sec. Wait just a goddamn sec. Do you know the percentage of people who have (cable/dsl/broadband)? Do you know the percentage of people who have a home network? NO ONE NEEDS THIS HACK. NO ONE WANTS THIS HACK. NO ONE NEEDS ETHERNET. NO ONE HAS A HOME NETWORK. THE TIVO IS NOT JUST FOR GEEKS."

  • Um, you're saying TiVo has protections to prevent copying?

    But what about the "Save to VCR" feature? Hell, someone could simply dump that to a video capture card.

    I don't think that any such hacks would be worth the effort, nor do I think TiVo would care.
  • Besides, where are you going to find schedule data in the right format?

    I'm sure there could be a market for that on Hotline. . .

    or buddy-networks.

    OR - possibly there's a place where you can get it in the wrong format, but with a little clever text processing, one could reformat it to the correct format. Of course, the hackers would have to stay ahead of every little TiVo software update to avoid the same problems our Samba brethren get from every SP Microsoft releases.
  • Some do now with cable and DSL. But how many know how to NAT more than one box behind their connect? Few..VERY few. The dialup on the TiVo works just fine.... there wasn't a need for Ethernet.

    But...hackers want Ethernet so we can do other things, like remotely mount network storage and such. These weren't in the original TiVo design as supported features, so why spend money on the Ethernet hookup?
  • by revelation0 ( 164235 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @08:59AM (#634458)
    Well, this is apparently going to be asked repeatedly, so I will answer. Yes, the TiVO service uses a TCP/IP service to get it's program guide information. It is a proprietary protocol, where the unit sends in it's ID etc encrypted over the protocol to the tivo service which then verifies that the unit in question has an up to date service agreement and then proceeds to send the program data. They do have an 800 number, however, they also use multiple local dialups to keep costs down, which are basically just POPs in different locations that will allow them to dial up to the internet to get to tivo's servers. Therefore, anyone using the service through broadband will still need to pay the subscription fees to TiVO ... until someone figures out how to download it and redistribute it to others over another channel. I hope that explains something :)

    Revelations 0:1 - The beginning of the end.
  • Ethernet does have advantages over serial connections, though.

    Speed and wiring options come to mind.

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle