Smartphones have changed the way we live life. Along with the new tech, early on, we got an entire subculture of hackers who wanted to unlock their smartphones to use on other carriers or with different software. This same trend continues today, but now also with our … cars?
Redditor trsohmers took on the challenge of hacking the infotainment system in his Tesla Model 3 and was able to gain root access — also known as admin access, for the Windows users in the room. Ironically, he wasn’t trying to do anything malicious with the car, but something much less exciting. “First real milestone I want to hit first is adding some more ROMs to Tesla’s MAME system,” trsohmers wrote in a forum post.
He opted to install the popular Linux distribution Ubuntu on his Model 3, which runs in parallel to the existing Tesla operating system. The dual operating system setup allows the Tesla system to continue running and doing everything that the car should do while the Ubuntu system allows for some new functionality in the car.
The new system allows him t0 bring SSH into the car, which connects directly into the Linux operating system via a command line interface (CLI), from which he is able to issue commands. From the CLI, he is able to switch the car over to display his new Ubuntu 16.04 installation, which has a full Xfce desktop. He demonstrates the streaming of a video from YouTube which appears to confirm internet connectivity in the new system and the capability to play videos with audio.
He runs a few commands from the command line of the new system, including htop, to show the top processes running on the system, and cpuinfo, which displays the hardware that the system is running on.
The achievement demonstrates that installing multiple operating systems on the car is possible, but with $50,000 on the line, it is probably not something for the average tinkerer to start playing with on weekends. Having said that, it does open up some interesting scenarios when it comes to warranty coverage, hacking the actual Tesla operating system, homebrewed versions of Tesla’s software, and the like.
For me, I’m not interested in hacking the car yet. If I want new in-car functionality to pass the time, I’ll probably just pull out my laptop or borrow a tablet from my wife instead of risking the infotainment system.
Check out the video in the reddit thread below to get a look at what trsohmers has achieved so far.
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