Sunday, September 19, 2010

Installing WDTV Live Unofficial Firmware

As of this writing, the latest stable official firmware version for WDTV Live is 1.02.21.

There is also an unofficial firmware for WDTV Live that opens up the whole linux underneath along with several other services. The unofficial firmware is based on the official firmware 1.02.21 and is around 80MB while the official firmware is just around 32MB. The difference in size includes a whole bunch of additional services like SMB server, FTP, telnet, dropbear (ssh), torrents, apache etc., to name a few. But not to worry much, the unofficial firmware provides total control to us to configure not to start any of these services that aren't of interest to us.

The unofficial firmware can be downloaded from WDTV Forums. (you need a registered account, its free).

Upgrading to the unofficial firmware isn't really a big deal; I am writing about this only to complete the context for a lot more posts that I intend to write over the unofficial firmware (I've already done quite a bit of things on this, including building a custom device driver for WDTV Live, modifying their scripts etc). With little bit of caution, one can safely upgrade to the unofficial firmware. Most importantly, the unofficial firmware is totally safe in terms of the functionality (I mean the media player functionality..) because, the unofficial firmware hasn't re-written the complete functionality -- rather it is just an extension to the existing firmware. Someone smart out there, has just unpacked the cramfs image of the official firmware and customized/extended the scripts, added more apps etc., and made it a full-fledged linux box that can do much more than just media playing. I felt very comfortable going ahead with the upgrade when I read about this. Not just theory, but I upgraded the same day I unboxed my WDTV Live; ever since I've been running on the unofficial firmware without any issues -- playing heavy full-HD with DolbyDigital / DTS. It is also possible revert back to the official firmware in case it didn't workout for you, nevertheless.

Tip: WDTV doesn't upgrade to a firmware, if the new firmware's version is not greater than the current firmware version. So, if you are already on official 1.02.21 (like I was), you cannot theoretically upgrade to the unofficial firmware (in spite of it being very different). Fortunately, the version of the new firmware is read from a separate .ver file that comes with the firmware update pack, which can be easily tweaked around. This tip is also important specially when you want to downgrade your firmware or revert to the official firmware.

The firmware has generally 2 files : wdtvlive.ver, wdtvlive.bin. The .ver file has the version of the firmware and the also points to the wdtvelive.bin. It looks something like this:


Sometimes you might need to play around with the version string as pointed out earlier. Put these two files (.ver, .bin) in the root directory of your USB drive attached to the WDTV and start it. Once started, WDTV should show you a menu item for 'Firmware upgrade'. It's straight-forward from there on.

IMPORTANT: The upgrade itself doesn't take very long, but make sure the power doesn't go off during the upgrade. If possible, run the player on UPS during the upgrade. However, the first boot after the "unofficial" firmware upgrade takes pretty long (actually many minutes) and there won't be any video signal to your TV during that time -- so don't panic (until later :P) that you had bricked your device.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Jump for Challenges

Courtesy: Pravs World

Instead of avoiding challenges, jump into them.
Beat the heck out of them. Enjoy the game.
If your challenges are too large, do not give up.

Failing makes you tired. Instead, reorganize.
Find more determination, more knowledge and more help.
And then, Just go for it!