Going back to Boxee Beta

I love Boxee, and I love the Boxee Box, but there were a few things I didn’t like so much.
First of all, the new UI wasn’t so great but I could live with it, then the Last.fm and YouTube Apps missing which was pretty bad as they were my top most used apps plus the latest firmware update broke all the fancy features in Reemote for Boxee.

I’m sure the devs at Boxee have put a lot of work into delivering these updates, especially the UI part, so I feel kinda bad to show people how to get rid of them, but in the end I think users should get the experience they want, so here it is.

How to downgrade the Boxee Box

As it turns out, downgrading the Boxee Box is not a big deal. No custom firmware flashing or anything is required, the box itself includes a recovery mode that allows to restore the firmware to factory settings or in other words Boxee Beta.
Of course it’s possible to update again at any given time.

Here it goes:

  1. Shutdown the Boxee Box
  2. Unplug the LAN cable (important, otherwise it will auto-update)
  3. Hold power button for about 10 seconds then release
  4. The Boxee Box will boot into Recovery Mode
  5. Choose Factory Restore and confirm.
  6. The Box reboots…
  7. Connect via wifi (again, otherwise it will auto-update)
  8. And say hello to good old Boxee Beta
  9. After setting up your account once and logging in, you can also switch back to a wired network-connection.

As far as I can tell, this works pretty well, the UI isn’t as smooth as on an Atom/ION based HTPC, but the updated one wasn’t either.

I don’t take responsibility for any problems this might causes, if you intend to do this, do it on your own risk!

Upside

  • You get the old UI back, which I know many people preferred.
  • You get the Last.fm and YouTube Apps back.
  • You can use all features of Reemote for Boxee with a Boxee Box.
  • The older firmware has telnetd still on board and is much easier to hack.

Downside

this looks like a long list but generally these are minor issues.

  • The security updates introduced with newer firmware versions are gone!
    It’s for everybody to decide for themselves but I was happy with Boxee Beta for a long time now and I don’t think this will actually be an issue.
  • The UI seems a bit slower than the latest version.
  • Boxee will force you to update the firmware from time to time. The problem here is that the update notification is presented in a modal window and cannot be dismissed with the BBox remote nor the iPhone remote.
    However, the window can be dismissed by using one of the menu shortcuts (Movies,TVShows..) available in Reemote.

How to disable auto update

EDIT: for some reason this doesn’t seem to be an issue anymore (at least not on my systems). If you are still getting forced to auto-upgrade please leave comment.

Boxee will tell you from time to time to upgrade to the newest firmware and this can be pretty annoying.
Boxee constantly checks the following URL to see if a newer firmware version is available.

http://app.boxee.tv/chkupd/dlink.dsm380/…

In order to get rid of this we have to stop Boxee from seeing available updates.
An easy way to do this is to setup a little proxy server that blocks outgoing requests to the above URL.

Setting up tinyproxy

Tinyproxy is a small and lightweight proxy server that is available for Mac OSX, Linux and even wifi routers ( e.g. openWRT)

  1. Install via your package manager of choice. (on OSX I’d recommend homebrew)
    • Ubuntu$ apt-get install tinyproxy
    • OpenWRT $ opkg install tinyproxy
    • Mac OSX $ brew install tinyproxy
  2. Edit the config file, the path may vary but it probably is be something like /etc/tinyproxy/tinyproxy.conf
    an example config is available here.
  3. Start the service $ tinyproxy
  4. Configure Boxee to connect through the proxy server.
  5. Restart the Boxee Box.

If your proxy server is working and filtering correctly, the Boxee Box should no longer try to update.
Note that using a proxy might have a negative impact on your network performance.

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