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The Chromecast runs a modified version of Android, so of course modders are all over it like white on rice. The folks at GTVHacker already gave us a working bootloader hack and root access, not that there's much you can do with it at the moment except switch to the beta or dev channel. Unfortunately, a quick over-the-air update for the Chromecast seems to have closed this modding avenue already. One XDA-Developers member has discovered this firsthand. We're currently waiting to hear back from GTV Hacker with a confirmation.

It looks like the change wasn't intended to mess with GTV Hacker's root method, which involved loading up a custom USB boot image. The 1.1 firmware adds an image verification check (a common bootloader feature) that interrupts the exploit. The good news is that the OTA update to build 12840 is rolling out slowly. If you want to root your Chromecast, unplug it right away, and there's a pretty good chance that you won't be affected.

XDA member tchebb offers a tweak that may work to disable OTA updates for Chromecast users who are already rooted, but he can't promise that it won't brick your device just yet. And if you do, well, at least you're only down thirty-five bucks, right?

Update: it looks like at least one XDA member, ddggtff3, has a temporary solution by flashing the older recovery image. This will re-enable the root exploit, but you're still left with an outdated software build (it's reporting as version 12072).

Update #2: Here's a statement given to us by GTVHacker:


I'm at a conference on my mobile between talks and unfortunately hotel rooms. I can confirm that the last update did fix the boot loader bug we exploited last week but we're researching other avenues to exploit the device. Unfortunately the entire team is currently preparing for our Google TV Secure Boot Presentation at DEF CON 21 tomorrow and won't have time to look at the patch as well as some of the other ideas we have had till Monday.


Source: XDA-Developers - thanks to commenter Mario for the tip!

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • Michael Pahl

    Since this thing is basically entirely beta I see OTAs as compeltlty nessisary.

    • Ygor Vaz

      I see this more as a precaution to prevent people from "backing up" some 1080p copyright protected stream. As fas as the chromecast has hardware encryptation, Google knows exactly what the android community can do when they really want something.

  • Ark

    I'm sure it will keep people from rooting for about five minutes.

    • GhostSonic

      The lack of a reason to root is doing a good job of keeping people from rooting anyway.

      • Ark

        Actually people have already figured out a way to stream videos directly to it from devices using root. I suspect we'll need root to use the internal storage as well, which is absolutely 100% going to happen.

        • GhostSonic

          I haven't heard of direct video streaming being possible through root. Care to provide a source?

        • Cole Mickens

          Huh? Direct video streaming has absolutely nothing to do with Root on the ChromeCast device itself.

          koush's app casts data from the phone directly to the Cast, and my application casts directly from my media server to the Cast.

          What are you even talking about?

          • Justin W

            Neither of which require root AFAIK.

          • Cole Mickens

            Correct. I'm certainly not rooted on my ChromeCast and my Chrome sender app is a plain ole HTML page. And I can promise the other person, the Cast was pulling directly from my server. I can watch the request come in and the reply stream out.

          • impulse101

            What is your app? I am looking for something to cast from my media server at least until BubbleUPnP adds the functionality

  • Matthew Fry

    How is adding a bootloader verification step not intended to mess with people rooting?

  • Cole Mickens

    Crap. I'm afraid it's going to refresh while I'm at work.

    I really want to enable dev channel and I really, really want an unlocked or unlockable bootloader. I'd like to run FirefoxOS on it and write my own SDK around WebRTC DataChannels instead of using Google's proprietary wrapped on top of DIAL/SSDP.

  • Cole Mickens

    Also, the source for these builds (though maybe not the bootloader) is entirely public. If you have it rooted now, you can pretty easily rebuild the chrome_content executable with the latest chromium changes and be good to go.

    • impulse101

      You said you have an app for casting a media server?

  • mgamerz

    This is one device I feel like rooting is going to ruin. What happens when content publishers pull out cause they think people rooting can steal their content? (We all know they're pretty dumb, but this is exactly why they try to make it so you can't watch movies with root installed).

  • http://www.jashsayani.com/ Jash Sayani

    Is there a way to check the software version on the chomecast device?

    • Donatom3

      you need the chromecast app on one of your android devices. Open that up click on your device then go to the device settings. The build number is listed on that page.

  • quick

    I am kind of on the fence about this... Rooted Chromcasts are probably a deterrent for certain companies to add support for Chromecast, especially the ones that need DRM etc... (Netflix)

    Isn't there only like 256mb memory/storage on these things? What are people expecting to be able to do lol?

    I'm all for rooting, hacking (all my phones/tablets are) However I hope it won't result in lost support from Software companies adding Chromecast features.

    • René Simonsen

      4 GB

  • didibus

    Wait, I thought Chromecast ran a light version of Chrome OS? Is it actually running Android?

  • http://about.me/pinter mpinter

    Does anybody know if anyone is building a photo viewer Chromecast integration? It would be sweet if I could just whip out my phone, open an app, and cast my gallery for the famliy to share. Much easier than passing the phone around.

  • imtoomuch

    Mine has been unplugged. I plugged it in last night to use it for a couple of hours and it still didn't have the update when I unplugged it.