One of the things discovered soon after the TiVo HD started getting into users’s hands is that the traditional MFSTools used to prepare larger drives for installation do not work on the TiVo HD. No one had been successful with installing a larger drive in a TiVo HD. And that appears to include the resellers – DVRUpgrade.com and WeaKnees.com.
I had an email exchange with Lou Jacob of DVRupgrade.com today and he told me that the pre-orders for the expanded TiVo HD were based on the expectation of the existing tools working. His best guess is that WeaKnees is in the same boat.
He said they’re open to commissioning someone to re-write MFSTools and they’d return the modified version to the community. (So, if you’re a hacker who thinks they can pull if off, there’s a potential job.) TiVo is not working with DVRupgrade.
The good news is that someone has made progress. Over at TiVoCommunity.com, user Spike2k5 has posted his success. You may remember him from the ‘Kickstart 62′ discovery. He also runs MFSLive.org which has been the home to the MFSTools. The traditional tools are based off of a Linux boot CD. However, Spike2k5 has been working on a new tool that will run directly under Windows – WinMFS.
He has the alpha version of WinMFS working on the TiVo HD and he’s posted a screenshot of a TiVo HD with a 500GB drive as well as preview screenshots of the tool. It isn’t up for download yet, but Spike says it is coming soon.
And before the conspiracy theories start, this does not look like a deliberate effort by TiVo to disabled expansion. Spike says it looks like TiVo made changes to MFS (the file system) to support 64-bit addressing. The existing system couldn’t support more than 2TB of capacity, total. And with 1TB drives out now, it is possible to max out a unit with 2x1TB. Spike isn’t sure yet if they’ve actually lifted this cap in the OS, or if they’re just laying the groundwork with the change to MFS for future software.
My advice to anyone who pre-ordered an expanded unit is to remain calm and be patient. Since Spike already has it working, it is clearly not an insurmountable obstacle. Spike believes MFSTools could be re-written to handle this, but it would take more time than he has right now so he may not do it right away. But it is open source, anyone else who has the skills could do it. And both DVRupgrade and WeaKnees have a lot at stake – profits from selling expanded units – so that’s motivation to find someone to do the work sooner rather than later. Perhaps they’ll hire Spike to do it – getting paid has a tendency to increase the priority of a project.
Keep in mind the box has only been out one week at this point. If having an expanded unit is critical for you, just wait a little while and the tools will be out there.