How to root your Google Chromecast (and run a Gameboy emulator on it)


The Google Chromecast has only been in folks’ hands for a few short days (read our Chromecast review), and the tinkerers are already going to town on it. In case you haven’t heard, the device has been rooted, and there is some cool software already being brewed up for it! Rooting seems like cake, so long as you know how to flash an image to a flash drive and buy a powered USB OTG cable. Here’s the download you’ll need:


Chromecast Featured ready to cast

You can use your favorite method to install the image to a flash drive that is at least 128MB in size. Be sure to Google some methods for your operating system of choice if you’re not sure of your options. You’ll also need a powered micro USB OTG cable. Once you have those things, take heed to these instructions:

  1. Plug the flash drive into one female “A” end of the USB OTG cable
  2. Plug the other end into the Chromecast
  3. Hold down the button on the Chromecast while plugging in the power cord.
  4. Watch the screen, and any blinking light on your flash drive. The Chromecast will power up, execute our unsigned kernel, kick off to a script that replaces /system with a rooted one. It will then wipe /data, and reboot back to the normal system. All of this should take about a minute. Don’t unplug anything while it is installing.
  5. When it is complete, your box will reboot, and you will see a new splash screen, and then the Setup screen. Just re-setup your Chromecast, and you can telnet to get a root shell on your Chromecast on port 23!chromecast gba emulator

And there you have it! There isn’t much to do with it yet, but its nice to be prepared in case the community starts churning out some interesting goods. So what else can you do with your Chromecast other than what Google intended? Well, this one doesn’t require root, but how does trying out a Gameboy emulator sound?

The deed was done by Reddit user “braaains”, and they say it was actually a pretty simple affair. They explain: “the Chromecast sender just sends keyboard events to the receiver and the receiver processes them accordingly.” It worked well enough to play Super Mario Land, apparently. Response time for input is less than .5 milliseconds, which is pretty impressive considering the Chromecast is sending and receiving commands over a network.

To get it working for yourself, you’ll need to be able to find your way around the Chromecast SDK and whitelist your Chromecast. Full instructions and code can be had at the project’s Github page. We’re told the code is actually running on the Chromecast itself, and the only thing being done from afar is input handling. Give it a go if you’re up to it, and let us know if you find some other interesting things to do with your new $35 bundle of joy!

[via GTVHacker]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Slick! But not really what I bought it for. I think screencasting and beaming videos will be fine for now :P

    1. so Chris, when are you going to do a comparison between N7 chromecasting, and N7 miracast, side by side…………….. still waiting…………

      1. That sounds interesting!

    2. I guess I can get it for Netflix, but I want to stream my phone. So I may just stick with my MHL adapter for a little while longer.

    3. Yes, being able to carry a Chromecast and my phone/tablet and play videos to any big screen without needing it to all be connected to the net will make it significantly more flexible. Videos/game streaming at a friend’s house, in a classroom, in a hotel, while travelling overseas . . . We don’t have the ever-present network google dreams of one day being reality.

  2. If it supports Bluetooth, I wonder if they could get it to work with a controller. I can’t remember if it has Bluetooth or not…

    1. You don’t really need bluetooth for the chromecast, just for the pc that runs the chromecast client (which communicates with the chromecast). The client would send the input (gamepad button presses) to the receiver. The chromecast doesn’t need to know what is sending the input, just that it is getting some input.

      1. …right but I mean to reduce the latency

  3. Response time for input was .5 seconds, not .5 milliseconds….big difference lol, although even at .5 seconds, I’m still impressed when comparing to other events such as Chrome tab cast scrolling, which is more like 1-2 seconds or so.

    1. I posted a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKJ8iX45cGY. Latency is really low, essentially non-existent. I haven’t done any official testing on latency but games are definitely playable.

  4. I’m glad to see people are already finding cool things to do with Chromecast just days after it came out. Makes me excited to have one, and I’m really looking forward to what the homebrew community can come up with.

  5. Any news on if the OTA update will break root and if this will still work to re-root?

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