TiVoToGo Reverse Engineered

Dave Zatz —  December 4, 2006 — 20 Comments

I haven’t been following the Wiki lately, but it looks like TiVoToGo encryption has been cracked and a barebones (as in command line) conversion app is out. What does this mean? You don’t need TiVo Desktop software or a PC (!) to decrypt and playback TiVo shows. Had TiVo released Mac (and Linux) decryption and playback tools of their own, this may have been avoided… Snooze, you lose. As Megazone notes, a GUI is needed and is probably forthcoming. I haven’t yet tried this on Mac or Linux platforms, but stay tuned… (I’m not even sure if the C program has been compiled for OS X yet.)

In the grander scheme of things, should this get a decent amount of press, it’s a black eye for TiVo… Which could dissuade potential content providers from partnering and/or dissuade CableLabs from supporting multi-room viewing and TiVoToGo features on the Series3, despite protected media (TiVoCast, Macrovision flagged stuff) not being available for TTG transfers. Image is everything.

UPDATE: I can verify this works on Mac OS X. And it works fast! I’ll have the first draft of a step-by-step guide up tomorrow for those who need a little hand holding (as I did). Secondly, if you have a DVD-burning TiVo your output files (of 0.1.2) will not playback audio. However, the developer has provided me a patch which corrects that issue. I assume he’ll integrate it into the app or provide a separate download shortly. Lastly, I can’t imagine we’re more than a few days away from a Mac front-end — all it would need to know is where the program lives, where the .tivo file lives, and what you want to name the output file. Someone should be able to whip this up in an hour or so. Along those lines, I begged Leon to come out of retirement and integrate this functionality into Galleon.

UPDATE 2: I’ve posted a brief guide to get Mac users on track. We’ll probably only need this for a few days, until someone more clever than I automates this and/or creates a GUI front-end.

(Thanks, half.italian!)

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20 responses to TiVoToGo Reverse Engineered

  1. Yeah,
    I can see this as harming the future functionality of Tivo2Go.
    Now instead of working on the new release of the software with all the new features, they will be scrambling to fix this hole.

    I REALLY hope this does not stifle work on getting HM features for S3′s going..

    I say leave well enough alone, and keep this command line only. Leave the point-and-clickers in the cold since that is all anyone is really concerned about. As soon as it is easy enough for them to use, it will go south for us all.

  2. I don’t see this hindering multi-room viewing on the S3, but it could certainly be the kiss of death for TiVoToGo for the S3.

  3. On the other hand, given that Windows users are the vast majority of the market, and they’ve been able to do this easily via other methods already, this may not matter one way or the other.

  4. Up and running on Mac OS X! No audio, though, which is disappointing.

    So easy to compile and run, a child could do it. I didn’t even have to modify the Makefile. Read the README for proper syntax (make sure to specify the -o option) and you’re off.

  5. No audio using what players? (ie: is it the conversion or the player?) I assume, and read over on the TCF, that Quicktime with MPEG2 plugin won’t handle it — but VLC should.

  6. As far as I can tell, it’s the conversion. I tried the resulting MPEG2 file with VLC, and there was no audio, but the video played fine. The video was all white (and, of course, no audio) in QT Player. I then converted to iPod video using ffmpeg, and again there was no audio.

    DirectShow Dump MPEG2 files play the audio fine in VLC, so this was definitely different.

  7. I got perfect audio using Mplayer. Didn’t try VLC

  8. One of the commentors on my TiVoLovers post said he compiled the source and is using it successfully on the Mac.

    I could see this being an issue for TTG on the S3, but at the same time TTG was ‘cracked’ the day it came out with extraction on Windows because of the DirectShow hole. I don’t know if this will be enough of a difference.

    A friend of mine already has a Perl script to snarf shows off his TiVo, decode them, and archive them on his Linux server.

  9. Version 0.1.2 fixed a bug which caused improper decoding. It looked like flashes of odd-colored blocks in the video and no audio. Now it should be working fine.

  10. I noticed that someone remarked to remember the -o option. I am guessing you got a screenfull of mpeg binary garbage ;)

    I did that because my intention was to have it operate as a filter so that you can play the MPEG file.

    For example:
    ./tivodecode -m $MYMAK MyFile.TiVo | mplayer -

    The output to a file is a convenience feature.

  11. Hey, good to see FrooBrar posting. Thanks for the code!

  12. Yep, I have a Humax DRT-800 DVD-burning TiVo. The audio works in version 0.1.3! Keep up the great work, FrooBrar.

  13. looks like the link for the write-up is no working…ca anyone help me out??

  14. I had success on compiling this on my Mac on the first go around, with the hand holding instruction and I have had zero/nada/zip background in compiling a program before. Had audio and video in VLC from the get go and in the right aspect ratio.

    Honestly my feelings are that this serves Tivo right. For more that a couple of years we have been getting the company line about “we are diligently working on TTG for Mac”. I don’t think (and hold off beating me with a rubber mallet) Tivo will have a problem with this. Who will: GE(NBC)/Fox/Disney(ABC)/CBS et al.

    I think with other solution out there for recording TV in a Tivo like way (EyeTV, iTV from Apple due in January, and heck just buying it from iTunes) Tivo should be worried about loosing market share. At least with this homebrew solution out there, Tivo can hold on to a few of its subscribers that are Mac/Linux users.

    Just my opinion, I could be wrong.

  15. I just finished whipping up an AppleScript wrapper for the tivodecode program. Now it’s drag & drop simple to convert your .tivo files.

    http://inik.net/node/97

  16. Where did the handy-dandy walk through go to?

  17. Crumpy, it should be back up now. I added some DVD-burning information to it.

  18. Have they figured out how to send mpegs/.tivo files back to the S2?

  19. I am going nuts, I think starting with 2.1 Tivo Desktop destroys MPeg2 playback codec as part of the install.
    I decrypt Tivo to MPEG files no problems, but trying to run Windows Media Encoder to convert them for my portable media center crashes. In fact, any program trying to convert MPEG file crashes. However, Windows Media Player and playback programs work on those MPEG files, just no conversions. Any ideas?

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