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Thread: Building a Linux PC JUST for Tivo hacking - what linux build?

  1. #1
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    Building a Linux PC JUST for Tivo hacking - what linux build?

    I an not a Linux guy, 85% of my experience is from Tivo hacking in fact, heh. Ideallly what I would LOVE to do is find a way to image the PTVupgrade ISO to a hard drive, but that is beyond my abilities.

    That being the case, I wanted to install Linux on a spare 40gb HD and then put all my various images and Tivo tools on so that I have a nice place to do work.

    Can someone suggest a flavor? I do not need gui.

    If someone knows a way I can just image the PTV disk to a hard drive then that would be pretty sweet too...

    Thanks,
    Shawn

  2. #2
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    The problem with putting a Tivo image on the hard drive and booting it up on a PC is that the image is compiled to run on a MIPS/PPC processor (depending on what series Tivo you got it from).

    The next best thing - buy another Tivo. Find a cheap directv tivo and dont sub it. It will take up less physical space, and it's more "real world".

  3. #3
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    i think you misunderstood me. i want to build a hard drive install of the traditional ptv or knoppix boot cds. this way i boot into the PC to HACK the tivos, not ACT like a tivo. a pc to ONLY backup/restore images, work on installing hacks and modifying files on the tivo, etc.

    i need an image that will understand the tivo filesystem, but not run tivo software....

    shawn

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by shstevens
    i need an image that will understand the tivo filesystem, but not run tivo software....
    The boot ISO's have very limited functionality. I'd go with a full distribution. Any recent distribution should do. I use Fedora core 4. Others use Debian. You probably should use a distribution with a 2.4 or 2.6 kernel.

    TiVo specific things you'll want to add:
    • tivopart & pdisk -- Among other things, this allows the linux kernel to "see" the tivo partition table (see the "revalidate" command line option).
    • bootpage -- Allows you to modify TiVo bootloader parameters.
    • mfstools 2.0 -- TiVo drive imaging and backup software. Caution: the unsable snapshot from 050221 is broken, as is the CVS head. I suggest you use the prebuilt binaries, or compile from the 2.0 release CVS label.
    • A mkswap that can generate valid mips V1 swap headers.
    • mfs-utils. Tools for accessing the MFS file system.

    That should be the basics to get you started. You can add a cross compiler, etc at your leisure.

    {Edit: I misread your initial post to read that you were a linux guy. I'd still recommend the above, but if it seems like too much, just stick with the boot ISOs. What's the advantage of putting the boot ISO image on disk, a slightly faster boot?}
    Last edited by Jamie; 12-07-2005 at 12:02 PM.

  5. #5
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    ok, thanks for setting that up jamie. that is the plan eventually. that being said, to START with, is there a way to transfer the bootable options to hard drive booting? i would like to start with that to get up and running quickly, but i am experimenting with linux more and more everyday within vmware...

    thanks for everyone'e input.

    shawn

  6. #6
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    the attached file has loadlin and a batch file to start it from dos (as in dos 5/6/7/98/me, not a 95/98/nt/xp cmd promt)

    copy the kernel & initrd from the ptv iso onto a fat/fat32 c drive, boot pure dos, run the batch file to launch loadlin & "monte" into the ptv utils environment (also works for usb thumb drives if the pc supports booting into dos from it)


    I'd second Jamie's suggestion though, find a linux distro you like


    livecd's like knoppix/dsl work nicely & don't even require copying anything to hd. many *nix forums have "poor man's install" guides for booting livecd images from hd for ease of install (copy in a few files) lack of system impact (no messy repartitioning) and portability (usb thumb drives & camera memory cards can be substituted for fat/fat32 hd's)


    really want to get fancy? try puppy linux. puppy is a ramdisk based livecd that can save info back to the boot cd!!! by adding a session (max 99 sessions per disk)

    imagine if you will...

    burn puppy image to cd/dvd (preferably rw)
    boot pc & mfstool_backup tivo hd to ramdisk
    burn ramdisk contents to cd/dvd
    modify tivo hd to install <whatever>
    pass go, collect $200
    Attached Files Attached Files

  7. #7
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    Thanks Riley, I will give that a shot when I free up the hardware!

    That is exactly what I am looking for to get started. I will definitely play with a full install (i have to get more proficient), but i wanted to hit the ground with something to start with.

    Thanks again,

    Shawn

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie
    {Edit: I misread your initial post to read that you were a linux guy. I'd still recommend the above, but if it seems like too much, just stick with the boot ISOs. What's the advantage of putting the boot ISO image on disk, a slightly faster boot?}
    Jamie,

    I am looking to do the same as the orig poster, but in my case I am a linux guy ...

    I think I can follow much of what you put into your post (as to where to get stuff, etc), I'll also probably go debian.

    Anything specific I should look at when I rebuild the kernel? Perhaps an experimental module that has been submitted to support the tivo FS (I can wish can't I? ).

    To me the advantage of a dedicated disk-based tivo hack box is I can have it be headless (and use my *real* workstation to work from) ...
    Give a man a link and you answer his question of the day. Teach a man to "search" and he can answer his own damn question.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeadSock
    Anything specific I should look at when I rebuild the kernel? Perhaps an experimental module that has been submitted to support the tivo FS (I can wish can't I? ).
    You can use the stock distribution kernel. There is no nead to rebuild.

    The root and var file systems are ext2, so you don't need any special FS support module for that. The media file system (MFS) is supported through user space tools (mfs-utils, linked above).

  10. #10
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    jamie,
    would building a kernel with CONFIG_MAC_PARTITION on enable access to the partition table without needing to "revalidate" with tivopart?
    thx
    Give a man a link and you answer his question of the day. Teach a man to "search" and he can answer his own damn question.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeadSock
    jamie,
    would building a kernel with CONFIG_MAC_PARTITION on enable access to the partition table without needing to "revalidate" with tivopart?
    thx
    Nope. They use a different id on the partition, identifying it as tivo (its the same as mac, except for the id).

    I patched the kernel to add native support at one point, but it's at home, and I'm not. If you grab the kernel diffs from tivo.com, you ought to be able to find the changes and apply them to your kernel.

    -Jim
    HR10-250, 6.3e, HMO/HME, etc
    HR21
    DVR80, 6.2, hacked, MRV, etc, networked via a hacked WST54GS
    DVR39, upgraded to 250 hours - 3.1.1b 4.0.1b 3.1.1e 6.2, now MRV-only due to a bad sat2 decoder
    2x Hacked XBox for XBMC
    Running Linux since '93.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeagleBoy
    Nope. They use a different id on the partition, identifying it as tivo (its the same as mac, except for the id).

    I patched the kernel to add native support at one point, but it's at home, and I'm not. If you grab the kernel diffs from tivo.com, you ought to be able to find the changes and apply them to your kernel.

    -Jim
    yup easy enuf ... vimdiff shows precisely their mods to mac.[ch] ... I think tho I'll clone theirs and make a tivo.[ch] and add it into Config.in

    thx for the pointer
    Give a man a link and you answer his question of the day. Teach a man to "search" and he can answer his own damn question.

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