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Tesla hacker installs Gentoo and can now watch movies on the Model S’ 17-in display

tesla gentoo

For obvious safety reasons, most jurisdictions across the US and the world prohibit someone from driving a car if a “video monitor” is clearly visible from the driver’s seat. Hence why even though Tesla’s 17-in center display could certainly be capable of playing videos, the automaker disabled any video playing capabilities other than the video feed from the rear camera.

It didn’t stop a hacker who recently managed to install Gentoo, a Linux-based operating system, in her car and can now play videos directly from her Model S’ 17-in display.

I am using ‘her’ here because the hacker is staying anonymous but goes by ‘Hemera’, the Greek goddess of daytime.

Earlier this month, Hemera started a blog to share her effort to hack the Model S. Just a few weeks ago, she explained in a post how she gained a root access to the center touchscreen and this week she published a video to prove that she installed Gentoo.

Hemera explains in a blog post:

“Some details, this is running a Gentoo arm system, cross-compiled using a qemu-user chroot environment. Yes, that’s right, Gentoo, running on a Tesla. All those USE flags, CFLAGS, and optimizations are going to add speed to my car. My 5 second 0-60 will be faster than your 5 second 0-60!”

The anonymous hacker enlisted Arnold’s help to demonstrate her Model S’ new OS:

It makes for a very interesting media center. Since it’s illegal and potentially dangerous, we wouldn’t recommend using it while driving ( Yes, even with the Autopilot), but it makes for a fun feature to have when parked.

Our new favorite hacker shared her first impressions:

“The car would make an amazing media center. Holy crap it sounds amazing! The video player I’m using here is SMplayer. The performance was far better than I thought it would be, even with the wonky EGL and codec situation I’m currently in.”

You can follow Hemera on Twitter for more updates on her Model S hacking.

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  1. asimo3089 - 7 years ago

    What if movies and television are the reason that the Model 3 has a horizontal orientated screen. With full autonomy, you could kick back and enjoy a movie with everybody in the car. Especially with that screen in the prototypes being dead center instead of pointed at the driver.

  2. givemethedaily - 7 years ago

    They should allow video mode when in park!

  3. Bubba2000 - 7 years ago

    This kind of thing could get people killed because AP is not reliable. People think crazy stuff with AP disabled many of the features. Tesla could throttle dats to keep this kind of thing from happening.

    • Mircea Stancu - 7 years ago

      Chill, Bubba. Chilll.
      I don’t want Tesla spending money and effort enforcing this kind of stuff. They have more pressing issues to solve, like finalising design for the Model 3 and Gigafactory efforts.
      I also don’t want Tesla to have too much access to my data. Not without really good reason.
      It’s people’s responsibility to handle their car and if they go through the effort of hacking their car, none of my business. Rest assured, it’s pretty easy for someone to hook up a mobile phone to the dash and watch a movie like that, sharing sound through bluetooth. Would you like it to be mandatory for all car manufacturers to place videocameras into your car and always analyse what you’re doing, just in case you may be innatentive and kill someone?

    • Bradley - 7 years ago

      Bubba is just young and hasn’t had a chance to get out much. So, I wouldn’t spend too much energy countering his extreme point of view.

    • Phoudi - 7 years ago

      Bubba trolls most Tesla articles with negative junk that he pulls out of his Tesla, hate infested arse. Let me guess Bubba, you vote trump and were with the FBI in  vs FBI? Do I have you pretty much pegged?

  4. deejaybuddha - 7 years ago

    Terminator playing in a semi self driving all electric car. That’s appropriate lol

  5. pepe - 7 years ago


  6. Haggy - 7 years ago

    If Tesla allowed video, they wouldn’t be the first. I had it a decade ago on an Infiniti, and the only caveat was that I needed to have the car in park with the parking brake engaged in order for video to play. With Tesla, that’s a touch of the button, and it could switch to audio only if a person puts the car “in gear.” Tesla never should have made the statement that they don’t allow video because it’s illegal. I don’t think they say that on their website any more, but it would be a nice feature.

    Then again, it wouldn’t top my list. There are still a number of far more basic features that Tesla lacks that are fairly standard on competing vehicles and that can be added with software. Some of those have also been around for a decade or more and affect many drivers every day.

  7. Boatey - 7 years ago

    I have the same capability with my aftermarket GPS radio unit from China, and “watched” entire seasons (over time) of old nineties sitcoms while driving with no safety issues. The trick is to watch comedies so you can just listen while driving, and only quickly glance at the screen to get an idea of what’s happening. I looked at the screen about the same amount as I looked at my mirrors, so I felt completely safe, and also entertained during longer drives on the highway.
    They should enable such features in more cars, but then there would probably be lawsuits.

  8. SayWhatNow - 7 years ago

    It looks like none of the original Tesla software is still there – not much use that.

  9. Pedro Lopes - 7 years ago

    This is amazing and great!
    and… “Hemera said… _ I’ve never really liked Gnome. I’m a KDE girl myself. ”
    Is Her! 😀 😛

  10. Nathanael - 7 years ago

    Good for her.

    Tesla? Hire her.

  11. mayhemm007 - 7 years ago

    Media in the car is one of those areas where I really question the Tesla thought process. It’s almost bipolar.

    On the one hand, they enable full web browsing while driving (presumably trusting that their customers are mature enough to not surf and drive). Yet, on the other hand, they allow absolutely no video playback (despite a 17-inch screen with Internet access) even while PARKED!

    I had assumed that this was due to some hardware limitation and that video playback was simply not possible. This doesn’t seem to be the case though.


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