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Google’s OnHub router is actually a Chromebook in disguise

Google has managed to get its Chrome browser technology just about everywhere, from desktops to mobile devices to dedicated ChromeOS machines. It looks like that sprawl extends to the company’s new OnHub router as well, as a particularly enterprising team of modders at Exploitee.rs has been able to show.

The amateur hackers in question were able to root the unit in much the same way as someone might root a smartphone, discovering a secret developer switch along the way. At the lowest level, the OnHub is running something very similar to ChromiumOS, the source code that the Chrome browser and ChromeOS is built on. “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,” said the Exploitee.rs modders.

It may not be the most important bit of technology news you hear all week, but it does open the door for coders to be able to customize the device in the future: At the moment there’s a USB port on the router that doesn’t really do anything, for example, and if modders can root the OnHub then they might be able to utilize that port after all.

There’s also the potential for putting custom ROMs on the device — think CyanogenMod for your router — and it’s bound to have coding enthusiasts thinking about how they might adapt the OnHub for their own ends. If you know your programming, the idea of splashing out on a Google router just become a lot more appealing.

In a broader sense it shows Google continuing to get Chrome pushed out everywhere it can — and that includes the smart home and the Internet of Things. If you’re interested in hacking into your own OnHub, the Exploitee.rs team has posted a 21-minute walkthrough video of the process.