shoop (mcfnord) wrote in open_source_dvr,

Barriers to Bankrupting Tivo

Let's be clear: This community is not about building open source DVR's. It's about inserting alternate software into existing DVR hardware.

If this were made straightforward, millions of Tivo users could immediately cancel Tivo membership, and the Tivo company would be bankrupt.

Considering this, what sorts of barriers do you think Tivo hardware engineers included to prevent this doomsday scenario?
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I've been thinking about exactly that.

As you know, the Tivo programming is on the hard drive. That's easily modified, especially for the Tivo Tech. But what else supplies the security codes?

Every thing I've read thus far indicates the Tivo II units are "sealed." By units, I'm going to assume this means the motherboard is potted, the components locked onto the printed circuit with epoxy. This stuff is used extensively in electronics that could be exposed to adverse environments. It's permanent.

The hard drive is still open to modification, but what little chip on that sealed motherboard will still ask occassionally for the secret code and block the system if it doesn't receive it?

Therefore, after reflection, I have to agree that hacking the Tivo, while an inspiring thought, is impractical.

sixty4k sent some cool links. Browsing them, I found Freevo, which is exactly what I envisioned doing, except in a home-build case. In the future, I'll have to give them some money to encourage the process and try building a case to make my own.

Liberating functionality from Tivos, I do admit, is a bit of a wet dream. However, if the Freevo thing can work and spread, low-cost home units could take over the Tivo stranglehold by simply offering everything, but for free. Instead of stealing their thunder, Freevo could simply muffle it to a dull distant thud.