Google introduced its new router OnHub in August, but in-depth details on how the device would function remained a mystery.
At launch, Google had claimed that the OnHub would offer users "a new way to Wi-Fi" but it seems that the $199 router can do much more - it is a Chromebook in disguise.
How? Courtesy of some enterprising people from Exploitee.rs. A team of modders at Exploitee.rs managed to lay their hands on the OnHub router and they were able to root the device pretty quickly.
The modders rooted OnHub like a Chromebook, revealing that it packs in more punch than your traditional broadband router. The OnHub basically turned into a Chromebook sans a screen, but continued to behave as a router.
The team operated on the premise that a Chromebook and OnHub had similar backgrounds. The similarity was discovered by dumping the eMMC and the SPI flash. The modders realized that the OnHub was running on the Chromium OS. However, this had been altered so that the device could act like a router.
While attempting to root the router, as the modders delved deeper into the hardware the OnHub contained "in comparison to the Google Chromebook," they discovered a switch that was "hidden" and "is contained on the bottom plate of the Google OnHub but is hidden by a screw."
After a little tinkering, the Exploitee.rs team was successfully able to boot the OnHub router to developer mode. They achieved this by inserting a key sequence, as well as turning on the secret switch which enables the developer mode. This gave the team unrestricted access.
"The Google OnHub is at heart a Chromebook without a screen modified as a router, and our root method is just a modified version of booting Developer Mode," concluded the team in a blog post.
The developers have posted their discoveries in a video which can be viewed below.