$500 bounty to make an Apple TV telephone exchange

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on March 28, 2007

Apple TV Hacks are please to announce the second in our series of bounties! $500 has been put up by Sokol & Associates for the first team to get the open source PBX system, Asterisk, running on an Apple TV.

Asterisk is a complete IP PBX in software; PBX being a telephone exchange system like you may find in your office. It runs on a wide variety of operating systems including Linux, Mac OS X, OpenBSD, FreeBSD and Sun Solaris and supports Voice over IP in many protocols, and can interoperate with almost all standards-based telephony equipment using relatively inexpensive hardware.

In addition the winner will also receive an all access pass to the AstriCon conference and exhibition this fall in Phoenix, Arizona (worth $550).

The rules:

1) We must be able to reproduce the hack based on detailed instructions provided.
2) The hack must use the stock Asterisk 1.4.2 code.
3) The hack must include the new Asterisk GUI.
4) Asterisk must start at boot time and run as a system service.
5) The hack must be previously unpublished.

“At $299, it would make an ideal embedded PBX platform.”, says Steven Sokol, and who could disagree? Combined with all the other features, both built in and being added through hacks, the Apple TV could fast become the single box solution to a whole host of problems and even more irresistable at a low price point.

Questions in the comments, please. Submissions should emailed to [email protected], like usual.

  • FreeSWITCH can already run on this hardware as its native to Mac OS X, Windows, Linux, Solaris and many BSD flavors.

    It should be fairly trivial to get it up and running on this hardware… I just received my Apple TV today but I’m going to order another one to hack on.


  • J

    Why is this useful when the system has no USB for use with telephony peripherals? ???

  • I have Asterisk running.

    I need clarification on which new GUI has to be run.
    The 1.4.2 code base is installed
    asterisk -vvvc runs
    it is configured to run on boot

    here is the output so far.

  • almost got GUI working
    here is a screencap. good luck to whoever finishes this



  • steven

    The Apple TV *HAS* an usb connector… normally only for maintenance…but people have allready connected an external usb hdd without any problems…

  • G

    Why not just stick with Astlinux. Already runs Asterisk on embedded systems.

  • We haven’t need USB port to make a telephony system.

    SIP / Fxo gateway for telco connection (soundwin, aliwei, patton, linksys spa400….)
    SIP / Fxs gateway for analog phone connection (soundwin, aliwei, patton….)

    And SIP or IAX phone or softphone.

    No USB, no pci, just the ethernet on a switch….

  • Because it’ll be a PBX. After you get it working on your Apple TV, you can use an IP Phone and connect to your Apple TV PBX and make calls.

  • you can use astribank for the USB 🙂

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  • Charles

    So I see that Macnn.com noted that it was won but referenced a website ( http://www.awkwardtv.org/ ) stating “This is the default site”… Server pop’d or they referencing the wrong site?

    Also to understand, once it is running on ATV, one would ethernet to a router/switch and connect the VoIP phone. But how does the phone line get into the ATV? If the Ethernet is connected using the below being the ATV only has one port.

    SIP / Fxo gateway for telco connection (soundwin, aliwei, patton, linksys spa400….)
    SIP / Fxs gateway for analog phone connection (soundwin, aliwei, patton….)

    I know, I know… this is NOT the forum for this discussion but many are going to think the samething and want to be pointed in the right direction.


  • Tom @ AppleTVHacks.net


    We’ve had entries, but non have been confirmed yet, and so it has not been won yet.

    If an entry doesn’t get confirmed, then the next one will be tried, in order, and so on.

  • Charles

    Hi Tom,

    So, Macnn.com has it wrong… hum, bummer! Well, I will continue to monitor this site, thanks you to ALL of the faithful hackers! 😉


  • Laputa


    a wish list – the Apple TV should be functioning as before but just with asterisk as an add on function.

    That is, user can still put the box next to the TV for video watching but can also use it as a telephony system.


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  • Here is are my initial notes on this


  • alexr

    There is no “hack” here to do. Asterisk builds on OS X just fine. The real hack would be to get Digium to put proper support for software timers into Asterisk.

  • rcfa

    Asterisk shouldn’t be a problem, given that “regular” Mac OS X runs on the AppleTV.
    The problem with the Mac OS X version of Asterisk is, that a bunch of the features won’t work due to lack of Zaptel drivers, and also Asterisk, as shipped, has no support for fax reception and a bunch of other things.

    The solution to all this is to run the Trixbox linux distribution, which is based on CentOS 4.4, Asterisk 1.2.x, freePBX, mySQL, and a bunch of add-ons to create a truly useful setup.

    Since the AppleTV is intel based, the real quest is to get a linux kernel to boot on the box, and to find/write the required drivers for all the various hardware in AppleTV.

    Then a Trixbox distribution could run on the AppleTV, and be really useful, not just a gadget.

    I just spent some time trying to get Trixbox running on an old XBOX. The software works, but the limited amount of RAM (64MB) causes performance to drop due to swapping to a level that breaks a lot of the functionality.

    AppleTV may just have enough extra RAM and extra CPU performance and faster disk drive options that this problem would go away.

    So my quest is to get rEFIt working, and (dual) boot an AppleTV into Linux or its regular OS on demand.

  • rcfa

    Oh, and yes, if the regular OS remains, freeSwitch seems to me a much more interesting approach than Asterisk, for many reasons, including the fact that like much of Mac OS X it uses XML for configuration files, etc.

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  • Telephony11

    These technological changes that have come about with time are not only reliable but they are also the most cost-effective way for communicating to almost any corner of this world. Among all these finer technologies, Voip Telephony is the most easy-to-use technology that is much suitable for almost all business entities.

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