Roku Rooted!

This morning, the following was posted on the GTVHacker blog

Hello Universe, welcome back. It’s been a while since our last post due to a lack of new Google TV hardware and developments. When we have free time we tend to look at other interesting opportunities that come our way and recently we came into just such a situation when we found ourselves auditing multiple Roku devices.

The entire GTVHacker team has put a lot of work into this release and we hope the Roku community enjoys it. We invite others to continue our work and are happy to share progress made while we work to further leverage the current exploits before a patch is released. In the mean time, if you have a second generation Roku, root it. And if you don’t, buy one quick!

A new poster to the Roku fan forum announced that the GTVHacker had exploited a security hole on the Roku streamer and that some of the devices could be permanently rooted.  A short time later, discussions of the exploit were purged from the fan site.

Apparently, you can control updates to your Roku by restricting access to austin.sw.roku.com and giga.sw.roku.com on your router (add those two sites to its list of blocked sites).

I have not tested any of this.  If you choose to, you may violate Roku’s ToS or damage your streamer, so proceed with caution and at your own risk.

By Len Mullen Posted in News

Roku Installation Guide

A lot of people are gifting Rokus this time of year.  A lot of people will be returning them to the store in a couple weeks.  This guide will help the Roku newbie start enjoying their device more quickly, avoid common pitfalls, and get the most out of the streamer.  The guide was created looking at a Roku 2 XS, but, generally, applies to all models (some Rokus do not have wired ethernet while others lack composite out).

  1. Connect everything
  2. Create your account
  3. Remove your payment method
  4. Configure your Roku
  5. Find content
  6. Getting help
  7. About Roku Refurbs
  8. Remoku

Connect Everything: With the Roku 2 XS, you have the option of connecting to your local network wired or wireless.  If at all possible, run a wire.  The Roku 2 XS supports HDMI and composite.  HDMI is high definition and composite is standard definition.  If possible, connect via HDMI.   If you like to listen to internet radio stations, run a composite cable from your Roku 2 XS’s red and white outputs to your HTIB or soundbar’s aux in.  This will let you listen to audio from your Roku without running your television.

Create Your Account: The Roku device requires a Roku account.  To create a Roku account, you will have to provide a user name, an email address, a password, a pin, and a payment method.  If you do not want to provide a payment method, call Roku support and they will create an account without requiring a payment method.  Make sure you select  ‘A PIN is required only when using your Roku account to make purchases’ whether you save or delete your payment information.  This prevents others for making purchases with your account.  If you want to make sure your kids are not able to add channels without your consent, select ‘A PIN is required when using your Roku account to make purchases or add any item from the Channel Store’ for your account.

Remove Your Payment Method: As soon as you create your account, you will be presented with an account dashboard.  Choose to Update Payment Method and choose Delete Payment Method.

Configure your Roku: Now, power up your Roku.  You’ll be prompted to choose wired or wireless ethernet.  You’ll need to know your network’s password.  After that your Roku will update to the latest software and reboot.  Once the Roku is up to date, you will be presented with a code that associates your Roku with your online account.  Tip: If you are having trouble connecting your Roku wirelessly, connect it using the wired ethernet option, take the updates, then switch to wireless.

Find Content: Some channels come pre-installed on the Roku.  Many more are available in the Roku Channel Store.  The rest are private.  There are two kinds of private channels.  The really private channels are invitation only.  The rest are channels that are not welcome in the Roku Channel Store.  This is generally due to the streamed content — it may be risque or flirting with copyright infringement or simply competing with a Roku favored channel.  Here are some resources…

If you are looking for ‘cable content’ for your Roku, check out Playon.tv.  Aereo can stream local (broadcast) channels to your Roku for $8/month.  If you are a YouTube fan, the best YT channel for your Roku is the banned VideoBuzz channel.

Getting Help: When things go wrong, you have to be careful dealing with Roku.  Their warranty is 90 days and they don’t know you on day 91.  The key to getting good support for 90 days is to act quickly and document EVERYTHING.

  • If you are having trouble setting up a new Roku, call their phone support (1-888-600-7658).
  • If you are dissatisfied with the phone support, have language issues, or simply prefer not to communicate on the phone, try their chat support.
  • If you want to talk about your Roku or learn about Roku approved channels, visit their fan forums.

Be sure to record time, date, and the support person’s name if you seek help on the phone.  Save your transcript if you use the chat support.  Don’t expect much from the fan forums.  Most important, if you are approaching the end of the 90 day warranty period, get an RMA and return the unit.  Seriously, they don’t know you on day 91.

About Roku Refurbs: Roku refurbs are a bargain.  They are offered at steep discounts, carry the same 90 day warranty, and are mostly open box returns.  At this time, almost all Roku 2 XS models are refurbs.  If you receive a DOA refurb, handle the return/refund with the vendor.  Once the return period has passed or if the problem is minor or not obvious (remote does not work), seek support via Roku.  First question to ask and first answer to document is whether or not Roku stands behind the 90 day warranty.  I generally ask this via the support chat BEFORE making a purchase.  If Roku will not stand behind the refurb, return it to the seller.

Of the four refurbs I have purchased, one had a bad remote and Roku sent a new one in a couple days.

Remoku: Remoku is a web app that controls your Roku.  This can help you troubleshoot a problem, deal with a misplaced remote, or wait out the arrival of a replacement.  You are going to need to know the IP address of your Roku.  It’s a GREAT idea to capture this information when everything is working.  From the Roku home screen, select Settings then About.  Write down your IP address.  Click this link to Remoku, click Settings at the top of the screen, type your IP address into the Manual Add box and click the + button, click Remote at the top of the screen, and click some buttons to see if Remoku is working.