I have an WDTV HD media player, it's a nice little bundle of hardware in an attractive box, but unlike its younger brother the WDTV Live it only plays files from a locally attached disk via USB, which is pretty much useless as I don't want any moving parts in my living room.

USB NICs are available, but the default formware from WD doesn't support them, that's where WDLXTV comes in, a homebrew remix of the official firmware, with added drivers and NFS support.

The problem with WDLXTV

There is a huge problem with WDLXTV, the files are distributed via the nasty rapidshare site, rather than bit torrent, which makes downloading files take ages and if you have failed to install Adblock Plus you will probably be subjected to tons of ads in the process of waiting to be allowed to download.

Anyway, I'll spare you the burden of downloading the bare essentials from rabidshare, either get the complete package with everything: ready-to-go-WDLXTV- [23M], this file directly contains all the files you need in the unpacked and ready to stick in the oot of your flash drive.

If you just want the zip files as they were published by b-rad, get WDLXTV- [28M], which contains: 1.03.01_B-RAD.CC_WDLXTV-, nfs.app.bin-0.3.zip, core-extras.app.bin, stock.osd-0.3.bin and dropbear-ssh.app.bin.zip

I don't know why b-rad didn't go with a reputable Open Source file and project host like Google code or Sourceforge, but I'm guessing that it's because the non-Free parts of the firmware remix are copied from the official firmware and that distributing those binary parts is actually a violation of Western Digitals copyright.

If I were the one doing a firmware remix like this I'd:

This way I'd get several huge advantages over the current distribution method:

USB Network card

The USB network card I bought was this one, it's well supported by Linux and WDLXTV.

The Belkin USB NIC comes with a short (10-20 cm) USB A-A cable, which is very handy and allows the NIC to be put out of the way.

The Belkin engineers must have been smoking some bad crack the day they picked out LEDs for the unit, it has not one, not two, but three high-power focused blue leds that could light up a Pink Floyd stadium concert, what a horrible design fuckup, but it's easy to fix with 8 layers of thick black tape.


Using WDLXTV is easy:

  1. Format a flash drive with a FAT32 File system, give it a good volume name, because it's going to show up on your screen later.
  2. Download: ready-to-go-WDLXTV- [23M]
  3. Untar the file and put all the files in the root of the flash drive
  4. Edit net.config to give the wdtv a static IP and do not enable NTP, when I tried to use DHCP the remote functions such as pause, fast-forward and so on broke.
  5. Edit net.mounts to mount your exported NFS file system.
  6. Stick the flash drive in the WDTV and do the firmware upgrade.

Power management of the WDTV

I thought it would be fun to do a few measurements on my WDTV, because it's going to be on all the time and electricity costs real money where I live, the WDTV has the Belkin USB NIC and a USB flash drive attached, for the measurements it was being fed 12V by my bench powersupply, these are the numbers:

In other words, when you "turn it off" all they turn off is the video output and the LEDs on the front, in fact, you can still ssh to the box when it's supposed to be off.

It might not be the Western Digitals fault that my WDTV doesn't have power management, it could be that the WDLXTV firmware messed it up, but I think there's a fair chance that stock WDTVs also do this.

Because of the insanely huge standby power consumption the WDTV will cost me at least 85 DKK, I wonder if I should add a FET to the USB plug on my TV so it can turn off the WDTV hard when the TV is off...

© Flemming Frandsen