Hack-in-a-box for Series2 DirecTiVos!

PTVnet: Series2 DirecTV Networking Products
A copy of the post here.

For those of you interested in networking your Series2 DirecTV units, we’ve finally got a product for you. If you already know what we are talking about or you just want to go right to the product page for pre-ordering, just go here.

Here are some more details:

The marketing term is PTVnet. Go figure. It’s the best we could come up with for now – if you have any suggestions, please let me know.

The basic idea is this:

1. replace the drive in your TiVo with a newer and bigger one
2. plug in a USB 2.0 Ethernet adapter
3. boot your TiVo and it comes up on the network with a DHCP IP address
4. do cool things

So, what do we mean by cool things? Well, first and foremost, your unit will now have an IP address on your home network. And yes, folks, that means you have to have a home network. If you don’t know what that is already, there’s not much we can do to help you here – go get yourself a Linksys router, or something comparable and build yourself a network. Turn on DHCP (at least temporarily) and then you’ll be ready to get your TiVo up and running in a way that your computer can talk to it.

Where was I? Oh right, your unit is now connected to your network with a USB 2.0 Ethernet adapter. It has an IP address. So what have we installed that can make your unit more useful to you? Well, here is a start:

1. TiVoWeb Plus 1.0
2. TiVoWeb 194
3. Hackman 2.1.3 or 3.0 for TiVoWeb
4. YAC and Elseed
5. telnet/ftp
6. Busybox Linux Utils
7. Other miscellaneous and useful tools

More Details:

TiVoWeb and TiVoWebPlus

TiVoWeb is a killer-app for your TiVo. Once your TiVo is up and running on your network, TiVoWeb is most likely to be your primary interface into your TiVo from any other location than in front of your TiVo. And most importantly, you can access TiVoWeb and interact with your TiVo when someone else is already in front of your TV. What can you do with TiVoWeb? Well, pretty much anything you can do with a remote, and a whole lot more. Just a few of the features include the ability to schedule recordings, browse, sort, mass delete, and edit descriptions of the content listed in your “Now Playing” list, schedule and reprioritize season passes, send messages, drive your TiVo with a spitting image of the TiVo remote control on your screen, and the list goes on and on and on. Even more interesting is that there are a variety of TiVoWeb modules that have been developed by other folks that can also be installed and used through the web interface.

TiVoWeb and TiVoWebPlus are not products we’ve developed at PTVupgrade. They are free software packages released under the GPL, and we’ve incorporated them, made a few customizations, and also added a few popular modules that we think folks will find useful.

Here is a link to the TiVoWebPlus home page where you can find some technical details about TiVoWebPlus and TiVoWeb. If you want to see some screen shots of TiVoWebPlus, check out this link.

HackMan – aka. TiVo Hack Manager

HackMan is a very powerful module we’ve configured and tuned for use with TiVoWeb on your system. HackMan is easily accessible through the TiVoWeb interface (hackman screenshot). When TiVoWeb is started, HackMan scans your TiVo to look for many popular add-ons and will report the status (running or not running) of some of them. Using HackMan, you then have the ability to turn on/off features you may not use all the time. An example of this would be switching from TiVoWebPlus to an older version of TiVoWeb, or turning on/off telnet and ftp which limits remote access to your TiVo. In addition, HackMan gives you a very powerful interface to accomplish some other things with your TiVo. In addition to it being and easy way to reboot your TiVo, you can also enable common hacks, such as increasing your live recording buffer, tweaking the ‘maximum recorded episodes’ from 5 to a larger number (instead of ALL), setting a password so that your TiVoWeb is more secure, editing system startup files, or even getting access to the BASH shell for more advanced uses.

We’ve made one significant change to HackMan: HackMan, by default, has the ability to directly modify some of the system startup files, automatically, to enable/disable certain tools at startup. We’ve temporarily disabled that feature because it can overwrite some of the changes we make to startup files. Don’t worry about that, however – you still have the ability to directly edit startup files in a variety of ways. The HackMan author knows about these issues, and future versions of HackMan will not adversely effect our modifications.

As of today, HackMan 2.13 is what we have qualified for our kits, however we may include HackMan 3.0 if we can fully test it prior to shipping kits. Please stay tuned for more details.

Here is a link to the Hackman thread on the TiVo Community Forums.

YAC and Elseed

YAC and elseed are both utilities we’ve installed that enable caller-id features on your TiVo. If you have a telephone line plugged into your PC’s modem, you can run a YAC-listener on your PC. Tell the YAC listener the IP address of your TiVo on your network. When someone calls you, your PC will relay the caller-id information to your TiVo. You can use the HackMan module to turn on/off YAC on your TiVo.

Elseed is a little different. Elseed is designed so that you can plug your phone line DIRECTLY into the back of your TiVo. When you receive a call, the caller-id information should display on the screen of your TiVo. It works on some TiVo units and it doesn’t work on others. Use HackMan to start it up, and give it a try!

Here is a link for YAC where you can read more, and also download the small software utility you need to run on your PC.

telnet and ftp

Ah, the cornerstones of networked computers are telnet and ftp. If you don’t know what these are, then you probably don’t need to. In short, telnet will allow you to remotely access your TiVo because it really is a Linux computer. The shell you will have access to is called BASH. FTP is a simple application for allowing you to move files to/from your TiVo. These are standard UNIX/Linux utilities and you can use google to find out more about them.


BusyBox is a toolkit of Linux utilities that have been “ported” to run on your TiVo DVR. For those that are into the whole UNIX/Linux thing, and want to remotely access their TiVo and do geeky things, BusyBox provides a whole bunch of neat tools, most of which will work on your TiVo. Here is a link to the BusyBox web site.

Other Useful Tools

We’ve included some other popular little goodies, all of which live in the /ptvupgrade directory. More details to follow…


Having a networked TiVo is a wonderful thing. Many many more things coming, but let’s crawl before we walk. We’ll be offering a variety of downloadable utilities you’ll be able to easily install and configure on your networked unit. We’ll also offer remote installation services, as we currently do for Series1 units networked with TurboNet and CacheCard. Stay tuned for more details.

About MegaZone

MegaZone is the Editor of Gizmo Lovers and the chief contributor. He's been online since 1989 and active in several generations of 'social media' - mailing lists, USENet groups, web forums, and since 2003, blogging.    MegaZone has a presence on several social platforms: Google+ / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / LiveJournal / Web.    You can also follow Gizmo Lovers on other sites: Blog / Google+ / Facebook / Twitter.
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  • slamonella

    Jumping Jesus on a Jet-Ski, it’s about time!