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Old 05-08-2007, 11:52 AM   #1
Bighouse
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eSata Expansion: How was it discovered?

Ok, I read the original post from the person who first submitted it, but I have a VERY hard time believing that someone from TiVo, or with a direct connection (alpha/beta site) didn't leak the ability to enable the eSata port.

Consider the method one must use to enable it...powering down the S3, hooking up the eSata drive, powering up while holding down the remote pause button, then waiting for the orange light to come on and go away, then entering the kickstart 62 number....it's just WAY to difficult to just "stumble" on this sequence. They might have well have just said "Oh, I just happened to find out how it's done- you have to juggle twenty differently colored objects, recite Lincoln's Gettysburg address backwards, while standing on your head".

So, either someone broke an NDA, or TiVo intended this information to get out. I'm not suggesting the OP broke an NDA, but someone, somewhere must have if TiVo didn't want us to know about this at this point in the game.

I really think TiVo needs to make some kind of a public statement and give us some direction before we all toss money into buying drives that may not, in the future, work. Their silence isn't helping much.
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Old 05-08-2007, 12:13 PM   #2
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It would be nice if Tivo made some type of offical announcement, but as for how the enabling sequence was discovered.....I never underestimate the creativity of folks around here. They are amazing in my opinion!
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Old 05-08-2007, 12:14 PM   #3
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TiVo corporate policy seems to be very rigorous that new features are announced only through official marketing channels, and bug fixes are pretty much never announced (only deduced by users). In fact, even the info that eSATA and some form of TivoToGo is planned for the S3 is a surprising diversion from their usual policy of not announcing future functionality.
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Old 05-08-2007, 12:21 PM   #4
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Someone on another forum which "deals" with such issues mentioned finding the Kickstart code while "poking around the StageA bootup directory" on his S3. Once the Kickstart was determined finding the proper sequence could be a simple matter of trial and error.
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Old 05-08-2007, 12:23 PM   #5
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Old 05-08-2007, 12:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bighouse
I really think TiVo needs to make some kind of a public statement and give us some direction before we all toss money into buying drives that may not, in the future, work. Their silence isn't helping much.
I for one, am not doing anything eSata related until it's official, and doesn't require acrobatics to enable.

Sure, someone found a backdoor to make it work, but it would be really easy for TiVo to shut that door and lock it if they felt the need, and I really don't want to miss or lose any programs, particularly this time of year.


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Old 05-08-2007, 12:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlesH
In fact, even the info that eSATA and some form of TivoToGo is planned for the S3 is a surprising diversion from their usual policy of not announcing future functionality.
And these, I think, are more because of circumstance. It would be rather difficult to hide the eSATA port, and TTG is an existing feature that's very much in demand for the S3.

So yeah, they're very secretive. But it's hard to keep quiet on stuff like this
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Old 05-08-2007, 12:51 PM   #8
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based on your big sig you upgraded your S3 which is not "official" since you opened your S3 and replaced the HDD therfore it would not be covered under Tivo warranty if there was a problem, if there was a warranty problem you needed to address you probably would reinstall the original HDD before you tried to send it in for warranty to make it "official".

why should they feel the need, it is built into their own software that is already in the S3 8.1 and 8.3 versions.
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Old 05-08-2007, 01:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bighouse
So, either someone broke an NDA, or TiVo intended this information to get out.
Or it was discovered through reverse engineering.
Quote:
I really think TiVo needs to make some kind of a public statement and give us some direction before we all toss money into buying drives that may not, in the future, work. Their silence isn't helping much.
I'd phrase this differently: TiVo doesn't need to do anything just yet, but I wouldn't use ESATA until TiVo says it's supposed to work.

What you have may well be alpha-quality feature specifically to test the ESATA hardware and device drivers. I wouldn't be surprised if there were incompatible changes made to the on-disk filesystem layout between now and when they enable it officially, forcing anyone who's added a drive using this "cheat" to do a "clear and delete all" or worse ..

Or, alternatively, the premature release of this information may delay the supported release of ESATA while they figure out what they need to do to migrate early adopters seamlessly..
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Old 05-08-2007, 01:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SullyND
Someone on another forum which "deals" with such issues mentioned finding the Kickstart code while "poking around the StageA bootup directory" on his S3. Once the Kickstart was determined finding the proper sequence could be a simple matter of trial and error.
In the past, there have been several kickstart codes that have been handled in simple scripts in the startup sequence. Some as simple as:

["$KickStart" == "xx" ] || mfschk --force && reboot

(I made that up, from memory of init scripts long ago - no guarantees it's even remotely syntactically accurate).

The point being - theres a very obvious 'if this kickstart code was entered, perform a full check of the mfs filesystem and reboot'.

Now, as time has passed, these init scripts have become more complicated, and better obscured. But it would not surprise me one bit if someone stumbled upon, deep within a file within a file while attempting to trace the startup path, a set of code that obviously responds to KS62 in a way that implies it might look for a eSata port. Assuming there were even the slightest hint of such a thing, it would be poked at very, very thoroughly...

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Old 05-08-2007, 01:14 PM   #11
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Actually not to hard to determine the code.

A quote from somewhere that doesn't exist from 2/7/2007:
----------
"... just poking around the StageA bootup directory on my S3 (software v8.0.1c), trying to verify the kickstart codes .... And this is what I found on my S3:

Code:
echo "Kickstart code 6 2 - initialize E-SATA drive"
do_esata_init=1"
-------------------
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Old 05-08-2007, 01:20 PM   #12
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any other interesting kickstart codes?
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Old 05-08-2007, 01:21 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bighouse
Ok, I read the original post from the person who first submitted it, but I have a VERY hard time believing that someone from TiVo, or with a direct connection (alpha/beta site) didn't leak the ability to enable the eSata port.
Not at all. Any human readable file in the TiVo distribution is going to get read by hackers; that's a simple matter of just putting the TiVo disk in a Linux PC. There is a file that has the various kickstart codes, and one of them has (in English) the comment "eSata expansion" or words to that effect (it's in an earlier message). If you saw that, wouldn't you want to try it?

The kickstart procedure itself is no secret; it's even documented at TiVo.com. It's very rarely used, with the primary use of low-level disk repair.
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Old 05-08-2007, 01:25 PM   #14
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Ok, thanks for the comments. I can now see how one could easily reverse engineer some code to find it. Having said that, isn't it a violation of some kind of license agreements to do such reverse engineering???
I'd hate Cablelabs to say "OK TiVo, your system isn't quite as secure as you claimed, it was hacked and users are enabling things you don't want them to or haven't given them authority to do...so we're yanking our pending approval or considreation of your S3 for MRV or TTG approval"....
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Old 05-08-2007, 01:30 PM   #15
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The guy who first posted it (I don't know why he isn't chiming in yet) said that after Cablelabs gave unconditional OK to external eSata recently, he remembered the kickstart code and thought he would see if it actually worked (most hackers would prefer just to replace the stock drive).
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Old 05-08-2007, 01:37 PM   #16
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I discovered it recently while poking around S3 to do some work on mfstools and annouced it here on Friday.

Why at that time?
I didn't see the posting about cablelab legal issues until thursday and wasn't sure I should post it.

No help was offered by TiVo, I don't work for TiVo and did not break NDA.
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Old 05-08-2007, 01:52 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bighouse
Having said that, isn't it a violation of some kind of license agreements to do such reverse engineering???
Was 'no reverse engineering' part of some 100 page license agreement that I agreed to when firing up my TiVo the first time? Other than perhaps that, I made no agreements with TiVo.


edit - no, I was not the one who figured this out.
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Old 05-08-2007, 01:52 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spike2k5
I discovered it recently while poking around S3 to do some work on mfstools and annouced it here on Friday.

Why at that time?
I didn't see the posting about cablelab legal issues until Thursday and wasn't sure I should post it.

No help was offered by TiVo, I don't work for TiVo and did not break NDA.
I will chime in to say this poster spike2k5 is one smart cookie as he is providing a re-made version of MStools that works much better than the old one and fixes the swap file problem of only going to 127m (with his tools you can set the swap file size for whatever you want and not have to use another program to initialize it) and it also fixes other problems. You can go to his web sight HERE
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Old 05-08-2007, 02:00 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin Thyme
any other interesting kickstart codes?
Not terribly. There's one for forcing a full mfschk, one for forcing a full database reindex, reinstalling the OS partition, that sort of thing. None are really that interresting - except for this one...

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Old 05-08-2007, 02:07 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bighouse
isn't it a violation of some kind of license agreements to do such reverse engineering???
Isn't it some kind of violation of basic human rights to bar someone from taking apart something they own to see how it works?
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Old 05-08-2007, 02:11 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kdmorse
Not terribly. There's one for forcing a full mfschk, one for forcing a full database reindex, reinstalling the OS partition, that sort of thing. None are really that interresting - except for this one...

-Ken
Agreed. Known codes from spike2k5

Kickstart code 6 2 - initialize E-SATA drive
Kickstart code 5 1 - software upgrade
Kickstart code 5 2 - emergency reinstall
Kickstart code 5 3 - BER testing
Kickstart code 5 4 - HDD test
Kickstart code 5 5 - Tuner/AFT test
Kickstart code 5 6 - software install
Kickstart code 5 7 - force MFS check
Kickstart code 5 8 - perform MFS cleanup
Tray open code 111 - will open tray
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Old 05-08-2007, 02:18 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by sommerfeld
Isn't it some kind of violation of basic human rights to bar someone from taking apart something they own to see how it works?
Not when we are talking about software. You give up that "right" when you sign off on the EULA.
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Old 05-08-2007, 02:23 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phox_mulder
I for one, am not doing anything eSata related until it's official, and doesn't require acrobatics to enable.

Sure, someone found a backdoor to make it work, but it would be really easy for TiVo to shut that door and lock it if they felt the need, and I really don't want to miss or lose any programs, particularly this time of year.
I wonder how long it will take them to make it official, or what the official eSata drive will be if they decide to go that way. Seems like a good move on TiVo's part with so many drive types, they can't test them all. Right now they are not on the hook for any user related eSata problems or loss of recorded content.
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Old 05-08-2007, 02:35 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spike2k5
I discovered it recently while poking around S3 to do some work on mfstools and annouced it here on Friday.

Why at that time?
I didn't see the posting about cablelab legal issues until thursday and wasn't sure I should post it.

No help was offered by TiVo, I don't work for TiVo and did not break NDA.

I'm getting real tired of saying this. The eSATA issue was cleared by cablelabs. That's why spike2k5 announced it here. Since the issue is cleared why in Gods name would there be any reason for TiVo to screw all of us who now have eSATA's?

All this worrying about an "official announcement" is just paranoia. Quit worrying about it. The one poster who said doesn't want to miss anything "specially at this time of year" that's EXACTLY the reason to get the eSATA. Stock up for Summer.
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Old 05-08-2007, 03:07 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lcann44
I'm getting real tired of saying this. The eSATA issue was cleared by cablelabs. That's why spike2k5 announced it here. Since the issue is cleared why in Gods name would there be any reason for TiVo to screw all of us who now have eSATA's?

All this worrying about an "official announcement" is just paranoia. Quit worrying about it. The one poster who said doesn't want to miss anything "specially at this time of year" that's EXACTLY the reason to get the eSATA. Stock up for Summer.
So....you're saying we can go ahead and purchase whatever enclosure/drive units we want and you'll buy it all back from us if TiVo does something to limit/change the drive compatibility choices?!?!?
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Old 05-08-2007, 03:26 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dssturbo1
based on your big sig you upgraded your S3 which is not "official" since you opened your S3 and replaced the HDD therfore it would not be covered under Tivo warranty if there was a problem, if there was a warranty problem you needed to address you probably would reinstall the original HDD before you tried to send it in for warranty to make it "official".

why should they feel the need, it is built into their own software that is already in the S3 8.1 and 8.3 versions.
The chances of TiVo sending down new software that disables anything larger than the stock 250G internal drive are slim to none.

The chances of TiVo sending down new software that disables the eSata kickstart code are pretty good, since it is not part of their current Cablelabs certification.

What were they thinking anyway, the first TiVo's had what, 14 hours? then then went to 20, 40, 80 and up. Bit backwards of them to go back to 30 hours for the stock S3.


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Old 05-08-2007, 03:41 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by phox_mulder
The chances of TiVo sending down new software that disables the eSata kickstart code are pretty good, since it is not part of their current Cablelabs certification.
Ridiculous. Since Cablelabs has certified the eSATA what difference does it make how it's started?

Pure paranoia. And if the chances were that good then why wouldn't any of the TiVo guys, who I'm sure are well aware of what we are doing told us it would be in our interest not to do this? Do you think they want to piss off all of us who have activated our eSATA's? That would be just plain bad business. If it's really any kind of issue somebody would have came forward today and said something at least by now. Not one word from Pony or Jerry, both of whom I've seen post today.

And how do you know it isn't part of the CableLabs certification. Assuming someone was having a problem this kickstart may be part of a fix. Or maybe it's just the way it will be done. Not so far fetched IMHO.

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Old 05-08-2007, 03:54 PM   #28
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To disable eSATA, they have to do some modification to Linux kernel, drivers, and TiVo software so it will take a while to implement and test.
So you got sometime to enjoy. I doubt they will take the time and resources to do it though.
Even if they do it, you can always block software updates and run 8.1.1 or 8.3.1 software.
If they stop sending guide data for 8.1.1 or 8.3.1 software, then they is a way to fix that as well.

So enjoy and let us know if you have any problems.
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Old 05-08-2007, 04:03 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lcann44
...all of us who have activated our eSATA's?...
Doubt that's very many in real terms...I'm willing to bet the vast majority of S3 owners who frequent these fora are waiting...
Quote:
Originally Posted by lcann44
....Or maybe it's just the way it will be done. Not so far fetched IMHO.
You ARE kidding, right? You've got to be drinking some serious Kool Aid to think that's the "way it will be done".
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Old 05-08-2007, 04:10 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by phox_mulder
The chances of TiVo sending down new software that disables anything larger than the stock 250G internal drive are slim to none.

The chances of TiVo sending down new software that disables the eSata kickstart code are pretty good, since it is not part of their current Cablelabs certification.

What were they thinking anyway, the first TiVo's had what, 14 hours? then then went to 20, 40, 80 and up. Bit backwards of them to go back to 30 hours for the stock S3.


phox
It might have been the price of 500gb or 750 gb drives that pushed the price point up. Sales might have been lower if the price was much higher.

Maybe Tivo will sell S3s with bigger drives in the future.
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