Details on TiVo’s Next Big OS Update Pieced Together

TiVo Logo I love the community of TiVo users. It is filled with helpful folks and a number of very talented and curious geeks, which sometimes leads to interesting news. This time a thread over at the TiVo Community forums has begun to decipher information on TiVo’s next major OS release – which will be 16.x. Today’s TiVo Premiere runs 14.8c. I believe the Virgin Media TiVo’s run 15.x, but it is just a variant of 14.x modified for Virgin’s hardware.

How do we know it will be 16 when nothing has been announced or released? Well, actually, something has been released. TiVo is based on Linux, and to comply with the GPL 2.0 license for the Linux kernel TiVo needs to post the source for any modifications they make to the GPL’d code. While they don’t need to post the source until they’re actually shipping the code, they’ve already posted the source for the files they’ve modified for 16.x.

And the geeks have pounced and started reviewing the code to see what tidbits they can eek out about the next major revision. Remember, this is just the GPL’d files from the Linux kernel and not the TiVo ‘application’ itself – the UI and functions most people think of as TiVo.

The most obvious change is that 16.x uses Linux kernel 2.6.31 while 14.x is using 2.6.18. User brentil has done the work of compiling a list of the key changes in each kernel from .19 to .31. It looks like 16.x will no longer include support for the Series3 family as code for the Broadcom BCM740x CPU has been removed along with other S3 specific info. There’s some interesting info/speculation in the first post:

Digging into the TiVo specific stuff there’s some references to GraphicsSurfacePoolSize for all the existing Gen07 devices I see across multiple other code sections. Seems to be a 60MB region of the 512mb now being set aside for specific graphics reasons.

Then in those TiVo config files is more references to the Gen07C & Gen07P which their real names are Gen07C-Gimbal & Gen07P-Picasso which deeper in their info shows they have “/* Second bmem region: Cable Modem */” so I’m betting these are the TiVo Premiere Q & it’s streaming box. I’m betting the Gimbal is the Q because it has more memory allocated to the Cable portion than the Picasso. The Gimbal name for the Q makes sense too as a gimbal is “a pivoted support that allows the rotation of an object about a single axis (WikiPedia)” in essence it’s the point everything else is based on where Picasso, duh, is a painter showing what he sees (non-tuner TiVo).

It’s nice to see some good movement forward on the kernel level at least. Of note the line in the kernel denoting the 2nd CPU is disabled on boot is gone now too. I had stumbled on it in the old code but now I can’t find it again, but I’ll keep hunting.

Interestingly, William McBrine, who runs an online HME-based Reversi game and therefore sees TiVo version numbers in his server logs, reports seeing 14.8.5, 14.9, and even 20. So it sounds like TiVo has a few versions in play. It think 14.8.5 and/or 14.9 are likely updates for the Premiere and perhaps the launch software for the Premiere Elite, while 16 is the next major update for the whole Premiere family.

I love things like this, but then I’m a big geek too.

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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