Rascals are always sociable, and the chief sign that a man has any nobility in his character is the little pleasure he takes in others company. Arthur Schopenhauer

Turning a TV set-top box into a Linux computer

Our mobile Internet Service Provider (ISP) has a bundle where they provide a 4G modem for internet access, and a separate TV set-top box that can be used to watch their TV content or to watch streaming services. This device was sent to us as part of the bundle, but at Zeus, we don’t really have a use for it: we don’t really watch television in our space. What we do have a need for, however, are low-power computers that can run Linux. In this blog post, we will hack this set-top box to run Linux instead of Android TV.

The constraints we lay out for this project are that the box must be easily turned back into running the original software again (in theory, we might be asked to give this device back. In practice, these devices are written off as soon as they’re sent to customers). This means that we cannot do any destructive inspection/testing and that we cannot overwrite important parts of the on-device storage. We would also like to get the most important hardware of the box working: Ethernet and HDMI. Turning a TV set-top box into a Linux computer