A week ago, in partnership with FatWallet.com, we announced a $1000 bounty for hacking an Apple TV to use an external USB drive for storage.
We’ve been monitoring the activity through the community, and whilst many parts of the overall hack have been achieved, nobody has managed to tick all the boxes yet. The $1000 bounty is proving to be the most elusive so far, but we think the work everyone is doing will be well worth it.
We’ve been receiving suggestions for what we could offer future bounties for. What would you like to see your Apple TV do now which still hasn’t been provided by a hack?
AppleTVHacks.net and FatWallet.com have teamed up to offer a $1000 bounty for the first team to get an Apple TV to use an external USB drive for storage.
The bounty will be won by the first team to submit a verified process and patch, within the rules:
- Patch must allow a USB hard drive, plugged into the Apple TV’s USB port to act as the default and primary storage for the Apple TV.
- The Apple TV must still boot from the internal drive and cannot use a complete replacement OS (the kernel may be patched, and additional kexts added).
- Patch must allow the media to be accessed as it would be were the internal drive being used (i.e if you couldn’t see their was a USB drive attached you wouldn’t know).
- Patch must be able to be applied without opening the case.
- Patch must be able to be removed (and the Apple TV to original configuration) without opening the case.
- No commercial files can be used asides from those found on the Apple TV or Mac OS X Intel. All others must be freely and legally distributable.
- The process cannot have been previously published, or demonstrated / distributed publicly.
- Judges decision is final.
As usual entries should be made to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject “USB Bounty”. Questions in the comments, please.
To get started, take a look at the USB page over at the AwkwardTV Wiki, ask questions at the Hackint0sh forums or in IRC at #awkwardtv on irc.moofspeak.net.
FatWallet.com, sponsors of the bounty, offers Cash Back shopping and Coupons for many of the best online stores, and is home to one of the leading shopping forums on the web. Big thanks to them!
Now that we can install full Mac OS X on the Apple TV, it really opens up the doors for making softmods to the Apple TV.
It appears the full version of Mac OS X will boot from an external USB drive, according to Turbo, the hacker who first managed to get the Apple TV to boot from USB.
Once booted, you can modify the Apple TV’s internal harddrive without needing to crack the case; and so you could enable SSH, Apache, or Apple Remote Desktop. You could even install 3rd party media centers, or just install some plugins.
Booting from USB requires booting the Apple TV as nromal then holding ‘menu’ and ‘-’ keys on the remote to initiate a restore boot. From there it takes a bit of timing, Turbo explains, “If I hold down menu and – from poweron until the first screen flash, I believe that it does the equivalent of cmd-opt-p-r. I only got it to boot from USB by releasing it at that point, then hitting it again just before the screen flashes on the second reset.”
He went on to explain that after the initial boot in this fashion; the Apple TV now boots from his USB drive by default if it is attached.
Obviously, we expect to see a whole host of softmods crop up, allowing people to tinker with their Apple TV’s without having to void the warranty by cracking it open.
Update: Turbo has posted detailed instructions on this on his site
Backrow, the GUI that is used with the Apple TV was quickly spotted to have a plugin architecture, intended to allow for it to be extended and improved. Apple have provided no documentation or details about this, but it has been successfully reverse engineered to the point where some plugins have been made. Thanks go to XianLi over at hackint0sh.org for the tip off.
You can download a “Quit” plugin here which provide an option to quit BackRow, and thus if you are using it as a front end on top of regular OS X, you can use it and drop back out to the OS to use other apps or media apps.
Once downloaded, unzip it and copy Quit.frappliance inside the plugin folder located here:
Make your own
For the programmers amongst you, there is a tutorial on creating plugins over at the excellent Awkward TV wiki.
The winner of the bounty to get the Asterisk PBX system running on Apple TV, kindly sponsored by Sokol & Associates, has been won!
l0rdr0ck (email) was the first to submit a verifiable procedure, and will collect the $500 reward. His process for installing is included below.
To get Asterisk running on Apple TV requires (obviously) and Apple TV. It also requires an Intel Mac, as there are no development tools available on the Apple TV (yet). We’ve divided the process into three steps: preparing your Apple TV, building Asterisk on your Mac, and finally installing the compiled Asterisk code onto the Apple TV.
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semthex from Hackint0sh.org, in collaboration with AppleTVHacks.net has done it again! A complete replacement to the Mac OS X kernel has been built which allows the full version of Mac OS X to be run on an Apple TV.
Semthex wrote a processor emulation for the kernel, to sidestep the hardware restrictions that previously disallowed Mac OS X from running on the Apple TV. AppleTVHacks.net was only too happy to help out, and when it turned out we needed more testers we launched a competition to get some. Within hours we had hundreds of eager Apple TV hackers submit entries.
Several hours of testing and refining later and our tester, gimli, managed to follow the steps (included below) to get Mac OS X booting on his Apple TV (click to enlarge):
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