Make your NAS Compatible with TiVo Desktop

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Contents

Introduction

TiVo Desktop is the software provided by TiVo that runs on your PC and allows you to stream MP3 audio and JPG photos to your TiVo. It also allows you to Transfer (copy) Television programs from the TiVo to your hard drive, where you can watch them with WMP or Burn them to DVD using Roxio MyDVD or VideoRedo TV Suite. With the Plus option you can also transcode and transfer video, such as DivX and WMV back to the TiVo so that it can be watched on the big screen instead of a small computer monitor. It is easy to use and works pretty well for what it does. There are also third party alternatives available that offer more features in exchange for more complexity in their use.

The Problem

This article addresses one bug (or Feature) of TiVo Desktop. It will not allow you to set the directory where it stores the programs on your NAS. Whether it is intentional, or just a bug, it has not been fixed in three updates to the software. The problem has to do with TiVo Desktop twiddling DOS Attributes of files in the selected folder and failing to allow you to use that folder if it can't set them the way it wants.

Workarounds

One workaround is to place shortcuts in the folder on the PC to a folder on the NAS. This works fine for sending content to the TiVo, but not for transfers from the TiVo to the computer. Those will get placed in the PC directory and have to be moved manually to the NAS. That works fine, but some people want more.

Another is to use a program such as TVAP which automates converting *.tivo files transfered from the TiVo into MPEG-2 files, stripping commercials using VideoRedo, and saving the files. I have not tried this, though I plan to use it in the future, but it should be able to save the files to the NAS without difficulty.

Then there is the workaround of hacking your NAS to make it TiVo Desktop compatible. While it shouldn't be necessary in the first place, this is a NAS hacking site, so we will discus this option in this article.

Hacking your NAS

The changes needed to make your NAS compatible with TiVo Desktop are actually fairly simple and straightforward. You do not need to be Linux expert, but you should have some acquaintance with the operating system, at least as a user. What we will do here is modify SAMBA on your NAS to make the share that you want to put *.tivo files onto handle DOS Attributes in the same way that windows does. Most NASes based on Linux do not do this. I presume it due to performance issues, but don't know for sure. So if this slows your NAS down unacceptably, back out the changes and charge the exercise off as a learning experience. Linux and Samba can be configured to work this way, it is simply a matter of turning the feature on. There are a few prerequisites, the main being that the Linux kernel of your NAS supports extended attributes. I am using Freelink on an Original Kurobox and have upgraded the

Assumptions

  1. You have Telnet or SSH access to your NAS and can log in as root.
  2. You are familiar with the basic file structure of Linux on your NAS.
  3. You are familiar with editing configuration files.