Bring Boxee Box back to life


D-Link Boxee Box review: D-Link Boxee Box - CNET
Boxee

If you haven't met this beauty when it came out then you have been missing out! It was so forward-thinking and so well designed. As often happens to great acquired products, they are killed for reasons beyond the compressible path to the mere mortals.

I was helping my friend Cristiano in setting up his Synology system along with Plex. And every single time I dealt with Plex I regretted every second of just installing and then figuring out how to remove that cancer from the system. I know that some people out there must have a good experience about that product otherwise I don't understand how they still alive... but over many years that hasn't been me and now Cristiano too :-)

So I was digging in my garage for something that I could have used as tvbox with some Linux distro on it. And that's when I ran in this wonderful piece of tech. Sitting there without love and full of dust bunnies. It booted at the first attempt and the remote battery was still alive!!

Sadly, it would not connect to the Internet, even via Ethernet. That's when my resume Boxee research quest started.

I discovered several and very useful things that I am going to share and organize for the next random geek out there that will place a search and find this jewel of knowledge. Saving hours of life that could be wisely invested in playing some MAME or binging YouTube. And hopefully resulting in some good karma for all people involved. That must include me too *_*

If your device has been reset or you don't have BOXEE+HACKS installed you will need to get that set first. If you do have version 1.5.xxx then you are good to go with the instructions below. Otherwise, skip this section and then come back to it once you are set on v1.5xxx.

I HAVE THIS VERSION


The underlining problem

Boxee OS phones home regularly and particularly at boot time. If the pingback from several network endpoints doesn't respond the rest of Boxee just becomes dumber than "president" #45.

The solution to the problem

  1. Have a baby DNS server on the network that fools Boxee that the URLs it is seeking are alive and well.
  2. Configure the network settings of Boxee to look for such a baby DNS server
If you haven't installed Docker before, now it is your time. There are two ways of doing this. One is to install it on Synology if you have one of those beautiful NAS another is to run it on your desktop computer. I run macOS and my example below if for that. However, it is so standard and basic that it will run for any other OS where docker can run on.

STEP ONE

STEP TWO
Find out what is your local IP address from where you are running docker.

STEP THREE
Make sure that Docker is running and pull the image is super kindly offered by Nicholas Serra. Like that:
docker pull hazward/boxee-server
then you start the image you just downloaded using the mouthful line below. replace my placeholder below with the IP address of the machine running this docker image. 
docker run -d --name dnsmasq -p 53:53/udp -p 5380:8080 -p 80:80 --log-opt "max-size=100m" -e "HTTP_USER=boxee" -e "HTTP_PASS=box" -e "EXTERNAL_IP=CHANGE-THIS-PARAM" --restart always hazward/boxee-server
If you are full of doubts and questions at this point. Take a deep breath and open your browser, head to youtube. Watch some cat videos and come back. It will all be suddenly better!

STEP FOUR
Confirm that the server is actually running by navigating to your-local-IP-address:5380 user/password are the ones in the docker string above. If all checks out then go to the network widget on Boxee.
How to Set Up a VPN for Boxee Box | ExpressVPN

and change the DNS IP address to match the IP of where your docker is running the light DNS server. You will have to change the option from DCHP/else to MANUAL. Don't forget to save once it is all done.
Astrill Setup Manual:Change Gateway and DNS on Boxee Box - Astrill ... 

That's it. Now your Boxee is back to life and you can play all sorts of things as you used to before the endpoints were shutdown.

CAVEATs:
  1. the built-in browser won't work because the DNS doesn't resolve anything, it just relies back on the endpoints that Boxee phones home for. A workaround to that is possible but I wasn't interested in hunting that solution.
  2. The docker image shall be running for all time you want Boxee to detect a connection. If you shut it down at some point (in my case every 15 mins) the OS will look for those dead endpoints.
Point #2 of the list above is why I investigated running Docker on the Synology so that my desktop computer doesn't have to be running for the Boxee to work.


after you install the image, don't forget to set the environmental parameter EXTERNAL_IP otherwise the image will stop running almost right after you hit start.


I don't have Boxee v1.5xxx

Or you don't have the hacks extension attached to your current configuration. Or even worse you reset the configuration thinking that it was a good thing :-) In that case your solution is likely something like this.

  1. Download the latest Boxee Box firmware. The downloaded file will be named boxee.iso, and that name must be retained.

  2. Copy the boxee.iso file to a thumb drive formatted FAT32 or NTFS. Make sure to properly eject the thumb drive after copying the file.

  3. Power down the Boxee Box.

  4. Power on the Boxee Box by pressing and holding the power button for 5-10 seconds. The Boxee Box will then reboot with the logo in orange.

  5. After the Recovery Menu appears, connect your thumb drive to the Boxee Box, wait 2 seconds, choose Reset all Settings and then select Upgrade from USB from the menu, and follow on-screen instructions.

To add the +HACKS addon, just follow these well-written instructions.

If you want to bring some additional spice to the trick, Nicholas has shared the bare minimum version of the service on GitHub. Fork away and share if you make any significant change that helps others.

Enjoy
;mE

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