Make your NAS Compatible with TiVo Desktop

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Revision as of 23:59, 6 January 2008 by CuriousMark (Talk | contribs) (Risks)

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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.


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 kernal to 2.6 using Andre's Web Installer. See Upgrade to the 2.6-kernel (ppc only) for details. You may need to ask around, to find out if your kernel is capable, or simply try this to see if it works.


  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.
  4. Your Kernel has support for extended attributes compiled into it.


I am not sure what all the risks are, or how to fix them if they occur, but I will list the ones I can think of. I hope more knowledgeable users will provide some guidance here.

  1. If your kernel doesn't support extended attributes, there might be a problem. The worst case scenario is failure to boot, although it is unlikely.

How To

Log into your NAS a root and Edit /etc/fstab to add the "user_xattr" option to the file system containing the share you want to make TiVo Desktop compatible. Here is my modified fstab as an example. Yours may show /dev/sdaX instead of /dev/hdaX which is fine. The X may differ on your NAS, it is 3 for me. Make sure you add the attribute to the correct file system.

Serenity:/etc/samba# cat /etc/fstab
# /etc/fstab: static file system information.
# <file system> <mount point>   <type>  <options>               <dump>  <pass>
/dev/hda1       /               ext3    defaults,noatime,errors=remount-ro      0 0
proc            /proc           proc    defaults                        0 0
none            /dev/pts        devpts  gid=5,mode=20                   0 0
/dev/hda2       swap            swap    defaults                        0 0
/dev/hda3       /mnt            ext3    defaults,noatime,user_xattr             0 0

At this point you can restart the NAS or continue with the next step. This change will not take effect until the NAS is restarted, as far as I know. (If a Linux guru wishes to edit in a command that allows this without a restart, feel free)

Next, edit your /etc/samba/smb.conf file to add the "store dos attributes = yes" line to the share you want to make TiVo Desktop compatible. Below is an example of my modified smb.conf with the addition. Your shares will be different, and you may have other options which are different. Most likely you will have settings that provide security for the share instead of the ones shown below which leave my shares wide open. (I may add some security later).

Serenity:/etc/samba# cat /etc/samba/smb.conf
security = share
workgroup = global
create mode = 777
directory mode = 777

comment = Serenity Share
path = /mnt/share
read only = no
public = yes
guest ok = yes

comment = Folder for Television Shows
path = /mnt/tv
read only = no
public = yes
guest ok  = yes
store dos attributes = yes


If you have done both file edits in one session, simply restart the NAS for all changes to take effect. If you restarted the NAS after editing fstab, you can do the following here to force samba to re-read the configuration file and not need to restart again.

Serenity:/etc/samba# /etc/rc.d/init.d/samba restart
Stopping Samba daemons: nmbd smbd.
Starting Samba daemons: nmbd smbd.

Now go to TiVo Desktop, select File/Preferences and try to change the location to your NAS. After doing this it works fine for me.