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Old 02-22-2012, 01:46 AM   #1
doni49
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Old unused Tivo -> want to convert it to a linux box...

I started out with an S2, then bought a second s2. Then bought an S3 and stopped using the S2s. They've been in storage for several years. I'd like to pull one out and convert it for use as a media server--load it with PyTivo and store copies of DVD movies (so I don't need to keep the discs anymore ). What would be involved in such a conversion?

If I pull the HD and reformat it, install a linux distro (not sure yet which one) will I be able to connect a keyboard AND USE IT? Would I be able to telnet in or at least use some other remote connection to control it?

I'd really rather not install PyTivo (and it's accompanying programs) on my personal laptop.

TIA!
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Old 02-22-2012, 02:03 AM   #2
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Nothing in it can be reused except for the hard drive and if your good with electronics the power supply.

Basically it would be a empty case that you would have to use standard PC hardware in.
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Old 02-22-2012, 02:13 AM   #3
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Nothing in it can be reused except for the hard drive and if your good with electronics the power supply.

Basically it would be a empty case that you would have to use standard PC hardware in.
Oh well. Thanks anyway. Sad part is that the HD is the ONE component I was leaning toward replacing and that's the only one that could be used. I HATE proprietary hardware.

What this means is that I'll either store it or add it to the waste in some landfill. Such a waste!
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Old 02-22-2012, 02:35 AM   #4
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Quote:
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Oh well. Thanks anyway. Sad part is that the HD is the ONE component I was leaning toward replacing and that's the only one that could be used. I HATE proprietary hardware.

What this means is that I'll either store it or add it to the waste in some landfill. Such a waste!
Sell them or give them away on Craigslist.

TiVos are not computers, they are appliances that use some computer-ish hardware and software to do what they were designed to do.

It's the computer-ish part that allows what hacking that is possible, but compared to the versatility of an actual PC, it's not nearly as much.

If you want to get an idea of what is possible beyond what TiVo had in mind, google TiVo Prom Day to get links to the "other site" whose URL gets filtered out on this site, and prepare to do a lot of reading.
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Old 02-22-2012, 06:16 AM   #5
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You do realize that a Tivo is already a Linux box, right?
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Old 02-22-2012, 07:55 AM   #6
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You do realize that a Tivo is already a Linux box, right?
That's why I was wondering why his idea won't work??? I know the Tivo OS is optimized work with with the specific hardware configuration and to take advantage of the specific parts but a prom modded Tivo should be able to load a flavor of linux. The question is can you find drivers and write software to make the other hardware parts work as you want them.
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Old 02-22-2012, 08:08 AM   #7
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Trouble is in the end you'll end up with a woefully underpowered box, unsuitable for just about anything else. The S3's require soldering in a different PROM to get around the locked setup. Prepared to do the soldering, or pay someone else to mod it? I don't think anyone has done anything to get pytivo to run on it. The CPU itself doesn't have much horsepower, all the hard work is done by custom chips. Which don't have drivers or documentation available to allow things like this to be done by 3rd parties.

Check with your local trash handler, many communities have recycling programs for old electronics.

Also note the power supply, as a used part, sold on eBay is often worth more than the whole thing.
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Old 02-22-2012, 10:59 AM   #8
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Yes, check your local electronic recylcers. If they let you, you can probably walk out with a PC that is plenty powerful for what you need.
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Old 02-22-2012, 11:11 AM   #9
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Thanks everyone. I think I'll go with putting them on CL. Either sell 'em or give 'em.

Hadn't thought about the fact that the motherboard is prob under powered for something like this. I have an old PIII windows pc that I'll set up as a media server instead.
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Old 02-22-2012, 04:46 PM   #10
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People have successfully installed mainstream Debian MIPS on TiVos, but whether it could make a worthwhile server, I'm not sure. The display wouldn't work (so forget keyboards as well); you'd have to use it via telnet/ssh. And yes, it's underpowered. On the other hand, it's also underpowered -- i.e., it should use less electricity than your average old PC.
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Old 02-22-2012, 04:49 PM   #11
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As stated, Tivos are woefully underpowered and would pretty much suck if you tried to use them as any sort of PC, even if you could get a standard Linux distro installed. DVRs don't require a lot of horsepower, but you can pretty much forget about using it for anything else.
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Old 02-22-2012, 05:22 PM   #12
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It sounds like from what everyone is saying, you couldn't load another version of Linux or some other software and use the Tivo box as a glorified VCR. It sounds like the reason for this is because all the heavy processing is done with the custom chips that can't be reprogrammed. I have over 10 Series 2 Tivos without lifetime that work fine, and it would be nice to be able to load them with some other software so they could work like a VCR. Some of them will work like a VCR, but the time if off and they are tedious to use. (I don't want to use them myself as glorified VCRs, as I have lots of lifetimed Tivos. I am just trying to find another use for them. I did have one volleyball coach that uses one so his players can watch their hitting on a 10 sec time slip. He said it works great for that.)
Am I understanding this correctly?
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Old 02-22-2012, 05:36 PM   #13
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It's not that the chips can't be reprogrammed, that's not how things like that work. It's that their functionality isn't documented anywhere public, so drivers or other software can't be written to utilize them. It's one thing to load a linux distro, that gets you "computer", albeit one with a pretty low performing processor and I/O system. But nothing exists publicly to go the next step and take advantage of the custom video chips. And it'd hardly be in Tivo's best interests to waste any time whatsoever changing that situation.
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Old 02-22-2012, 05:39 PM   #14
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Yes, the chips that do MPEG encoding, decoding and display are proprietary.
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Old 02-24-2012, 09:18 AM   #15
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For efficiency, you can get more efficient platforms than an old TiVo.

MY AMD Fusion system (not measured though), I estimate draws 50 to 75 watts. It is a dual core 1.6ghz, with built in graphics/video decoder, HDD, SSD, and optical drive. The CPU/GPU is rated at 18W TDP.

My Netbook draws 10 watts running (measured). It has a single core 1.6 Ghz Atom CPU, 945 GPU, HDD, wireless/Bluetooth, and LED lit LCD screen.
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Old 02-24-2012, 09:56 AM   #16
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For efficiency, you can get more efficient platforms than an old TiVo.
No doubt. But I don't think this...

Quote:
MY AMD Fusion system (not measured though), I estimate draws 50 to 75 watts.
...would be one of them. The netbook sounds good, though.

I've thought about running my Reversi game off an old TiVo, just for amusement. But I figure the Mac Mini that I'm using now uses less power. Although, as I look it up, that's questionable -- 32 watts at idle for the G4 Mini. (Newer models do much better.) Does anyone have the numbers for a Series 2 DirecTiVo?

Of course, there's also the fact that he already has the TiVo, while to get a more efficient server, he might have to buy something. And then there's the sheer hack value.
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Old 02-28-2012, 09:43 AM   #17
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For the processing power (dual core 1.6 Ghz), it is more efficient. Stick it and just a notebook drive and I think 30W could be achieved.
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Old 02-28-2012, 08:23 PM   #18
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You don't always need a lot of processing power in a server.
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