'Fixing' Sharp Aquos.net
Those that have a Sharp Aquos device with the aqous.net feature know disappointment. It was advertised as a 'Internet Ready' type of device, however you can only view information in Sharp's Web2.0 style widgets. (Very Apple of them...) Sharp took many steps to keep you contained in their approved web area. It is possible to free your TV from aquos.net and surf the real internet. Sharp uses NetFront (by Access) web browsers. This a common compact browser available for many portable devices.
Here is how to Fix Aquos Net on your TV:
Insert standard disclaimer here: This shouldn't break your TV but use at your own risk. This might violate something, somewhere, somehow; if Sharp tosses you in jail, don't call me. For educational purposes only...
Local DNS or Web Proxy
You can use a local *NIX server or a MS product or even a DD-WRT configured router. I use a Debian server with DNSmasq and Apache on my LAN, so that is what I use. Ensure your TV is using your local DNS server for the ethernet. You can either manually configure the TV of set your DHCP server to issue a local DNS.
The process is a simple DNS Hijack with a twist. You have to Hijack twice and in proper order to accomplish the hack (traditional definition, not pop culture hack). Sharp first directs the TV to www.aquos.net to load a encapsulating page to contain all the widgets. Then the browser loads the 3rd party content in the encapsulated widget. First we need to hijack one of the widgets. I chose Access Hollywood.
Redirect domain special.accesshollywood.com to your local web server:
That is a generic dnsmasq.conf line. Assuming your local web server is 192.168.0.1.
In the web server create a new directory in the www folder named 'sharpaqous' That is the default directory for the Access Hollywood widget. In the sharpaqous directory add a HTML file named 'screen.php'
For me this is: /home/www/sharpaquos/screen.php
screen.php is a simple file with a link:
Just enough to get you free of sharp.
Restart your DNS server (for me this is '/etc/init.d/dnsmasq restart') and start your Aquos.net. Browse to the Access Hollywood widget and you should see a plain white screen with 'Google' in the top left corner. This is your first victory!
Use the 'D' button on the remote to bookmark the page.
If you look in the menu feature after you press 'D' and view the page info, you will see the Google page is really just a encapsulated page still pointing to the real Access Hollywood page. We are not done yet. Now we need to hijack the whole thing...
On your DNS server redirect www.aquos.net to your local server.
Add another directory to your web server:
Copy the 'screen.php' file to this directory and rename it 'encapsulate.php'
cp /home/www/sharpaquos/screen.php /home/www/PortalActions/encapsulate.php
Restart your DNS Server.
Open Aquos.net on your TV again. You should get a TCP error. And nothing loads. OK, now you broke it.
Using 'D' again load the bookmark we made for Access Hollywood.
This will open the encapsulate.php page we are hosting giving you the single Google link again. If you click on your Google link, you will be sent to Google with no Sharp encapsulating. (This is important because the Sharp encapsulating with interfere with external sites.)
Bookmark www.google.com and delete the Access Hollywood bookmark.
You can use Google to find everything by searching for the URL and following links or on your encapsulate.php add a link to a webpage that you serve with a URL redirect. Then book mark your redirect page. I used a simple CGI program in C. Checks the 'Query String' and printf the http-equiv Refresh line.
Remove both redirects from your dns server. Let aqous.net on the TV work again. Just use the bookmarks to access the real internet.
The browser is kind of slow and clunky. No Flash support. But hey it is what we do right?