By on April 14, 2014


Automotive News reports Washington state governor Jay Inslee signed legislation that would allow Tesla to continue with its direct-sales business model within the state while also clarifying current law that favors traditional franchise dealership networks by preventing other automakers from following in Tesla’s path. The EV automaker thanked the state government “for supporting a culture of innovation and ultimately making the right decision for consumers” with the introduction of the bill into law.

In other government news, the California Air Resources Board is considering cutting EVs priced at $60,000 and above from the agency’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Program as funding continues to run low, according to Capitol Weekly. Though the move would be temporary, the cap would push-out both the Cadillac ELR and Tesla’s Model S and upcoming X, a move that Tesla feels is disappointing:

[CARB] aims to paint Tesla as the sole purveyor of EVs (electric vehicles) to the wealthy, while disregarding the fact that individuals of similar affluence may still continue to receive a rebate by purchasing a different EV.

Finally, Autoblog Green reports a group of tech-savvy Tesla owners have dug into their EV’s console via its exposed Ethernet connector, discovering a subsystem powered by Linux distribution Ubuntu. The individual behind the dig, known only as ‘nlc,’ was contacted by the automaker through its service center, warning him that his exploration could void his car’s warranty should he persist.

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30 Comments on “Wash. Governor Inslee Signs Pro-Tesla Legislation, Hackers Find Ubuntu Inside...”

  • avatar

    Ubuntu is a surprising choice. Most Linux implementations are either an embedded, custom distro with the RT kernel and/or a Debian variant. Canonical’s licensing usually makes companies reticent to base off it.

    • 0 avatar

      … and the reason TESLA warned off ‘ nic ‘ is because what he was about to discover and possibly disable assuming he chose to and was capable of doing [ and if he got that far he probably is ] … is the tracking system mandated by the NSA embedded within each and every TESLA S manufactured . Like Google … a stipulation for TESLA’s massive government funded loans – subsidies – grants etc .

      Yeah … Big Brother is alive and well … only he’s more ” Brave New World ” than ” 1984 ”

      Why ? Because in ” Brave New World ” … Big Brother isn’t forced upon the general public by conspiracies etc .But rather … the general public begs Big Brother to be forced upon them ….

    • 0 avatar

      > Ubuntu is a surprising choice. Most Linux implementations are either an embedded, custom distro with the RT kernel and/or a Debian variant.

      It looks to be just some kind of compositing system for the dash/stack display rather than actual ECU or whatever.

      Linux/gpl in general is a poor choice should anyone take them to court over it if all they needed is X.

      • 0 avatar

        +1 the irony of exploration could void his car’s warranty especially when it is a GNU GPL license. SHM

      • 0 avatar

        Are they really using X as the ICE GUI? Really?! Or their own compositor/display server/WM (a la QNX’s Photon)

        X is awful. I can’t think of a worse choice.

        • 0 avatar

          There was a huge thread on the tesla owner forum about this, and I only glanced over the first page and the last which mentioned X.

          Some other short article I saw mentioned one of the devices over the network as some kind of web service which implies one of the things being run on the display device is a browser.

          Since this is separate from the CAN bus there’s also likely some bridge from one to the other for the telemetry.

          Anyway, I didn’t look into it much.

      • 0 avatar

        X has the X11 license, which is an MIT license, so there’s no risk there. All the critical systems are definitely handled by FPGAs, microcontrollers, or other embedded systems running RTOSs. This is just for the user interfaces. Nothing surprising there.

        Are they sure it’s Ubuntu? It could be something with a better license.

        • 0 avatar

          > X has the X11 license, which is an MIT license, so there’s no risk there.

          That’s rather the point.

          > Are they sure it’s Ubuntu?

          Quick search leads to:

          Looks pretty sure.

  • avatar

    Strike Two to the State of Washington . First the passing of 420 . And now allowing TESLA to lie , cheat and steal to their little hearts content while keeping other car dealerships in check .

    So I guess in WA it isn’t about whether or not you are a thief . But rather what kind of thief you are . Preference obviously given to High Tech Grifters with Obamas blessing

    Hey ! Thats pretty good . ” High Tech Grifter ” Methinks thats a possible Song-Book-Article-Movie title in the making . Hmmmmmn…..

  • avatar

    Is there just an 8P8C connector hanging out in the open or did they at least obscure this with a proprietary terminus?

    • 0 avatar

      Apparently it’s a proprietary 4 pin connector, but not that obscured.

      • 0 avatar
        Rod Panhard

        That’s quite fascinating. One wonders how many other curious engineer owners have poked around and received similar messages from Tesla. Most of the engineers I know are the kind of guys who have *always* taken stuff apart to see how it worked. Can you get away with doing this in one of those cell phone black out areas, like near the big radio telescope in West Virginia?

        • 0 avatar

          Maybe, but I’ll bet it will phone home ASAP if there’s any trace of a change- or if it doesn’t now, it will soon.

          That is interesting how they found this. I probably wouldn’t have thought to start jamming ethernet into a 4-pin M12 buried inside of my dash, but I probably wouldn’t have the stones to take my new Tesla apart to find vulnerabilities either. I feel like if others had gotten this far in the past it would have made news as this did, and wonder what led them to this particular connection or if it was just process of elimination.

          Absolutely makes sense that Tesla would do what they can to prevent it, most companies in the business of soft and hardware don’t want you reverse-engineering it.

  • avatar

    Of course Tesla doesn’t want you to mess with it’s code. You could do all kinds of cool things, such as, make your plain Model S into something similar to a P85, without paying $25,000 to get it.

    This is a liability issue. What if you brick the car? Who is responsible? What if you buy a second hand Tesla and you have an accident due to a modification that the previous owner made? Who is responsible? A good (not good?) attorney might argue that it’s Tesla, because they knew of this vulnerability, but did nothing to prevent it from being abused.

  • avatar

    Speaking of Tesla, here are the renderings of the Saleen Tesla:

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