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Chromecast hacked: uses Google TV code, stripped of Android features

Discussion in 'Google Chromecast' started by sparkyscott21, Jul 28, 2013.

  1. sparkyscott21

    sparkyscott21 Moderator Staff Member

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    Google described its new Chromecast HDMI web streaming device as running a slimmed down version of ChromeOS, but hackers have discovered it's really Google TV without the Android features.


    [​IMG]



    Google's ChromeOS is essentially a Linux distribution aimed at netbooks and PCs, but designed to only run a version of the company's Chrome web browser. Other features are implemented as rich web apps within the desktop-like browser environment.

    Google described its new Chromecast as running ChromeOS without the Chrome user interface, or essentially Linux. But according a report by Google TV enthusiast site GTVHacker, "No, it's not."

    The hacker group exploited bugs in the device the same day they received one, allowing them to modify the system and activate shell access "to better investigate the environment as well as give developers a chance to build and test software on their Chromecasts."



    Google TV, minus the Android


    In examining the device, the group "concluded that it’s more Android than ChromeOS," adding, "to be specific, it’s actually a modified Google TV release, but with all of the Bionic / Dalvik stripped out and replaced with a single binary for Chromecast."

    Bionic is Google's replacement standard C library for Android, which replaces the GPL-licensed code in Linux to avoid entangling Android software in GPL-related licensing issues. It's also optimized for running on lower end devices than the original distributions of Linux aimed at PCs and servers."It’s actually a modified Google TV release, but with all of the Bionic / Dalvik stripped out and replaced with a single binary for Chromecast" - GTVHacker

    Dalvik is the higher-level Virtual Machine of Android that runs apps. Android's Dalvik is essentially a rewritten, optimized variant of Sun's Java VM, an issue that has spawned a legal fight between Google and Oracle after the latter acquired Sun and accused Android of infringing its intellectual property.

    Developers creating software for Android devices can target Dalvik with Java-like apps packaged as JAR files, or write low level C-code using Google's Native Development Kit, targeting the lower level Bionic. But neither of these are supported on Chromecast, unlike Google's previous attempts to target the living room with Google TV devices and its own Nexus Q.

    (As an aside, third party apps for iOS are native Objective-C code targeting Apple's Cocoa Touch frameworks; Apple doesn't support a Java or a Java-like VM on iOS, so there's no need for a separate NDK to finagle performance from the platform.)



    Google's shift from Android to Chrome on TV


    Their discovery that "most of the Google TV code was reused" for Chromecast, specifically that "the bootloader, kernel, init scripts, binaries, are all from the Google TV," lends credence to a report by the Wall Street Journal that described an Android TV prototype developed under Andy Rubin and shown in private at CES at the beginning of this year.

    That project was reportedly abandoned this spring around the same time Rubin was demoted from running Google's Android platform. He was replaced by Sundar Pichai, who had previously worked on Google's Chrome browser.

    Google's Chrome-related branding for the new device makes sense, now that Android is under the direction of Pichai rather than Rubin. But it also signals the beginning of something much larger, which will be detailed in a report tomorrow.




    7-28-13

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  2. ChrisG8

    ChrisG8 Well-Known Member

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    Do we know much about what the Google TV version of Chromecast will be like? Will Google TV be a dual boot system, run the Chromecast version of ChromeOS when in Chromcast mode or will Chromecast be adapted to run on the Google TV Android operating system? I understand so little of this from a technical standpoint but reading about Chromecast, I don't want the Google TV version of Chromecast to be a limited version.
     
  3. Carlszone

    Carlszone Well-Known Member

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    It's too early to tell. I'm still trying to get my head around this new device. It seemed to come out of nowhere. I remember a few references to Chromekey, but this little doodad goes way beyond that effort. If Google has really decided to own the living room on multiple levels, then this is the way to go. c'mon, Jelly Bean!!!
     
  4. mrspock

    mrspock Active Member

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    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 30, 2014
  5. sparkyscott21

    sparkyscott21 Moderator Staff Member

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    [​IMG]




    Google's Chromecast only began shipping at the end of last week, but the hacking has already begun.

    The folks at GTV Hacker have discovered an exploit for the Chromecast's bootloader, allowing root access to the $35 TV dongle. With the USB image provided by GTV Hacker, rooting the Chromecast is just a simple seven-step process.

    Most Chromecast users will want to hold off on hacking their dongles, since there are no practical applications for the rooted device right now, and Google could patch the exploit at any time. The purpose of the current exploit is to learn more about the Chromecast and to give developers a chance to test their software.

    To that end, GTV Hacker claims that the Chromecast is "more Android than ChromeOS," despite Google's claims that Chrome is at the heart of the device. The software appears to be a modified version of Google TV, derived from the same bootloader, kernel, scripts and binaries, and Google TV itself runs a customized version of Android. The big difference with Chromecast is that it lacks the Dalvik virtual machine architecture found in Android devices.

    In other words, you won't be able to sideload Android apps on Chromecast, but GTV Hacker hasn't ruled out the possibility of turning the device into a Google TV stick at some point. Just keep in mind that such a hack would run into hardware limitations, as Chromecast has a mere 2 GB of flash memory and 512 MB of RAM on board, according to iFixit .

    The idea that Chromecast and Google TV share some common blood shouldn't be too much of a surprise. Google TV users can already "Cast" YouTube videos from their phones and tablets to the television. Other features of Chromecast, such as the ability to send Netflix videos to the television and to mirror browser tabs from Chrome, will be coming to Google TV as well. Google has said the two television products will co-exist, which makes some sense if Chromecast is just a stripped-down version of Google TV.










    7-31-13

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    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 30, 2014
  6. revue5

    revue5 Well-Known Member

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    ^
    So, according to this article, Google TV (ARM based) may integrate the Chromecast (w/ JB update) next month? :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013
  7. revue5

    revue5 Well-Known Member

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    Looks like the Chromecast packs a lot inside (Marvell Armada 1500-mini CPU). Here is a long list of supported codecs:

    (source) - (posted first by "ktklein72")




    • H.264 high profile @ Level 4.1, 4.2 and 5
    • VC-1
    • MPEG2/4
    • WMV9 MP
    • VP6/8 SD & HD
    • DIVX-HD
    • Dolby Digital (AC3)
    • Dolby Digital Plus
    • Dolby TrueHD
    • DST HD-MA
    • DTS digital surround
    • DTS-HD
    • AAC/AAC+
    • WMA
    • MPEG1 Layer 1/2/3, MPEG2 Layer 2, AC3, E-AC3, HE-AAC v1L2 & v2L4, MPEG2-LC
    • MP3, MPEG audio
    • AC3 & DTS encode over SPDIF


    OK. edited (can play it all? ...) :cool:
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2013
  8. CatfishRivers

    CatfishRivers Well-Known Member

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    Well not quite everything. I don't see VP9 listed as a supported codec. Might not mean much right now - but eventually Google plans on transitioning YouTube to the VP9 codec. So that coud ultimately be an important codec.

    http://www.googletvforum.org/forum/...s-vp9-codec-nearly-done-youtube-will-use.html

    OK on second thought - since YouTube has an app for Chromecast - VP9 support for YouTube probably won't be required on current Chromecast hardware. VP9 is still very new - it's currently only supported on the desktop Chrome 29 beta.

    Also I don't see support for H.265 either. This is another new codec that won't mean much right now - but might in the future.

    http://www.extremetech.com/computin...eneration-video-codec-live-up-to-expectations
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2013
  9. ChrisG8

    ChrisG8 Well-Known Member

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    The Marvell Armada chip can handle those codecs but do we know for certain the Chromecast can handle those codecs? There is a difference between using a chip that can handle codecs and paying the licensing necessary to activate the codec handling.
     
  10. revue5

    revue5 Well-Known Member

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    FYI, "Marvell Armada 1500-mini" is the new name for "Chromecast CPU".

    "Marvell Armada 1500-mini" > Marvell's 88DE3005
    "Chromecast CPU" > Marvell's 88DE3005
    (source)

    update: too early to tell how much of those codecs the Chromecast will support? (probably not all)
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2013
  11. revue5

    revue5 Well-Known Member

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  12. revue5

    revue5 Well-Known Member

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  13. revue5

    revue5 Well-Known Member

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    You think VP9 support can be added later with a patch or a full firmware flash upgrade?
     
  14. revue5

    revue5 Well-Known Member

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    KyoCast - whitelist bypass ....
     
  15. CatfishRivers

    CatfishRivers Well-Known Member

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  16. phoneparts

    phoneparts New Member

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