Raspberry Pi reaches critical mass as XBMC hardware

For years I’ve been dreaming of a streaming media device that could just be stuck to the back of a television. Since XBMC has been far and away my favorite set-top box software, I’ve closely monitored hardware developments that can run that package. Now I think it’s time to declare that the Raspberry Pi has achieved the base specifications to be branded the XBMC device that rules them all.

There are a huge range of opinions on this topic, but please hear me out after the break to see what has brought me to this conclusion.

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Rooting a NeoTV set top box from the couch

The NeoTV is a set top box built by Netgear to compete with the likes of Roku. It streams video from the usual Internet sources like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and YouTube. [Craig] recently cracked his unit open, and in the process discovered that the NeoTV can be rooted using nothing but the remote control.

He starts with a hardware overview. The box houses a single-board ARM design with a 128MB of NAND and 256MB of RAM. The serial port is easy to find, but it does not provide a root shell (which often is one of the easiest ways to root a device). He next turns to poking around the unencrypted firmware update to see what he can learn. That’s how he discovered that the SSID value when connecting to WiFi is fed into a system() command. This glaring security hole lets you run just about anything you want on the device by issuing commands as fake SSID names. It’s just a matter of a little Linux know-how and [Craig] now has root access on his device.

Neuros set top box with Wiimote

The Neuros set top box, called Link, is a disc-less computer running Ubuntu. Neuros encourages hacking and finding new ways to use the unit, as can be seen in their latest article explaining how to get a Wiimote to work with it. The results are pretty slick, as you can see in the video above. We can’t imagine trying to use the on screen keyboard with it, but it seems to work nice for basic navigation.