Kodak HD Theatre

Site retired: The info here has been left up for reference.
04/02/2010

Received my $49 (Woot special) Kodak HD Theatre  today.




















My research indicates it's essentially a repackaged version of a development kit provided by HillcrestLabs. Yes, an entire hardware/software development platform seems to be available - If you want to part with somewhere between $500 to $1000. Naa, don't think so. Did find a guy on Woot that posted a hack of sorts, but zero information as to how he accomplished it. I assume he had access the the HDK. Anyway, it's HERE if you're interested and it's a starting point. Appears to be based on a Sigma 8630 series chip, running Linux.  With any luck, that should make it a hackable cousin of the WDTV... maybe.


The Kodak is a nice looking unit with an interesting gyro remote.

First impressions:

Connected it thru the HDMI port to my projector and plugged into my wired network. The unit has built-in wireless but I haven't tried that yet. Booted up rather slowly. Once it was finished, it displayed in a nice 1080p format. The remote is RF and works more like a mouse and only has a few buttons. You move the mouse pointer by wrist manipulation.

After some minor configurations, the first thing I did was to update the firmware . This was over the network and went pretty slow. When the unit rebooted the display was unreadable. I had to turn everything off (including my projector) before the situation was remedied.

Plugged in one of my USB drives (500mb NTFS formatted) loaded with various formatted movies. Was able to navigate the folders but once you got into a folder, all the files displayed as blank "movie" icons with no filenames. You had no idea what you were attempting to play. Major deficiency. From memory, I was able to attempt playing some files and determine what file formats it didn't like.

Unplayable formats/containers:
.m2ts Blu-ray
.mkv
.iso DVD rips
any DVD file structure and its content

Playable formats/containers:
.mp4
.avi - various encoders like Divx, h.264

Pretty limited file-type support, especially considering most of my collection is .m2ts blu-ray. .mkv (h.264) and DVD .iso. As a media player it certainly is rather lame. I did encode 10 minutes of a blu-ray .m2ts as an .mp4 and it liked that and the HD display was good.

Hacking:

Determined its IP address. Tried Telnet, FTP,  Samba, and web access. All it had was a web server running but it only displayed a line of text "these are not the droids you are looking for". ha.. Turns out that Kodak expects you to run their proprietary file-sharing software on any Windows PC who's files you wish to access over the network. I didn't even try that. Why Kodak would go that route instead of implementing samba is a good question and an excellent example of why this box was selling on Woot for $49.

I next tried the hack that was posted here. It worked, but what it provided was rather useless. A solitaire game, a display of Woot's web page, and some news reader. The important thing it provided was a backdoor into the system. I was in the process of dissecting the hack when I found this site: Kodak Theatre HD Hacking .  The guy running the site is quick and good. I now have telnet access. The box is running Linux and from what little I recall, looks like a version similar to what I've seen on the WDTV. I'm just starting to poke around.

I tried the wireless connection and it works too.

Got a manual start version of an FTP server running on the Kodak. Look in the files section. It's pretty slow but it does work. Includes a readme file.

Some things I've noticed.. Kodak doesn't seem to like media formatted in NTFS. You can read them ok but I can't write to them. No way to remount the drives as r/w. Appears to be kernel only NTFS read support. That's a bit of a problem as all my USB drives are formatted in NTFS and I was hoping to write to them through the network. Looking into ntfs-3g but so far no luck.

In looking at Woot posts, it turns out the Kodak does have a web server with some utility to it. http://yourkodakip/config/
Not a lot, but it's something. Wonder if that's documented in the manual? I only read manuals as a last resort.

Nice clean user extensibility found by joki on the SinCityHackersForum .
The main autoexec.sh is on the /mnt/app partition and read-only.  But there is a line at the bottom of it to check for the existence of a file at /mnt/user/custom.autoexec.sh.  The /mnt/user partition is writable so you can create the file and copy anything else you need into the partition.  Within reason, of course, given it's massive 12meg size.

I actually looked at the autoexec but glossed over this gem. Anyway, makes autostarting FTP easy.

To make FTP an auto starting permanent feature, just copy my bftpd directory to /mnt/user and place the following script as /mnt/user/custom.autoexec.sh

Note: insure execute permissions for at least /mnt/user/custom.autoexec.sh and /mnt/user/bftpd/bftpd through your FTP client or a chmod +x on the files.

#!/bin/sh
# custom autoexec
# this file is located at /mnt/user/custom.autoexec.sh
# and is run during startup.
#
if [ -e /mnt/user/bftpd/bftpd ]; then
    echo "Found FTP"
    /mnt/user/bftpd/bftpd -d -c /mnt/user/bftpd/bftpd.conf
fi

exit 0
May decide to re-release FTP as an auto installing .fw file or possibly combine it with SAMBA, assuming I get that working.

You may be wondering where I came up with the binary for the ftp daemon. No, I don't yet have a toolchain and I didn't compile the source. I started here: Nslu2 . Then I worked my way to here: Feeds . It's a collection of ipk files which are installable packages for embedded linux and resemble Debian's dpkg.  Since the packages were compiled for a MIPSEL processor I took a guess that they would be compatible. The files are meant to be installed via a package manager, but I wasn't so esoteric as to go that route. The ipk's are simply Gzipped Tar archives. I downloaded the bftpd ipk, unpacked it, and extracted what I needed. Not sure how many of the ipk's will be so generous in their compatibility but it was worth a try and it worked in bftpd's case.

Noticing that Tom Pixley, the guy who posted the first hack, seems to be involved in the KodakWoot thread. Worth keeping an eye on. Have no idea what Pixley's relation to the Kodak box is, but he seems to have an inside track that he's not willing to reveal. Update: Looks like Pixley is involved with Hillcrest Labs. He's leaking out bits and pieces of Hillcrest's interface, to what end who knows. Possibly so we can learn  how HōME can drive unit sales, differentiate you in the market, and leave you dumping your product for $49 on WOOT !  :P Kidding aside, Tom's a good guy and Hillcrest puts out some interesting stuff. I just think the Kodak was an example of trying to cram a little too much glitz in an underpowered box.

Think I've figured out the basics of installable .fw packages. Threw it up on its own page.

4/12/2010

My darn linux box crashed. Luckily I can still access the drive for files. Will take some time getting back to ground zero.

4/13/2010

Fixed my linux box and didn't really loose anything I consider important. Now on to more interesting things. Creating a working toolchain for compiling programs for the Kodak.  Turned out to be quite a bit more of a daunting task than I had imagined, but I finally got one working. I'll probably create a page for it when the time comes. Successfully compiled ntfs-3g and tried it out. I now have the capability to mount NTFS drives as R/W.

As much as I like the look and feel of the PcLinuxOS environment, I think I'll be moving to debian.  It just seems a lot more capable when it comes to a development environment that supports toolchains, etc.. There's a KDE version so at least I won't be stuck with Gnome.

Starting work on Samba. That's a trip.