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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A hacker named Turbo has posted instructions on enabling USB keyboard and mouse to work with the Apple TV. To do so, you need to download the patch he has written, and then apply it to your mach_kernel.prelink file with this command:
bspatch mach_kernel.prelink mach_kernel.patched turbo-disable-usb-whitelist-20070330.bsdiff
You can then use this tip from AwkwardTV to enable your mouse pointer (which you won’t see otherwise), and you are away!
ericIII, from the awesome AwkwardTV gang has constructed the first useful plugin (known as a ‘frapplication’) for the Apple TV.
It allows you to play video content stored on the AppleTV, but not inside the iTunes media file structure. This is a great first step towards integrating additional software features right into the Apple TV:
A couple plugins we would like to see are:
– A quit menu. We would like to be able access the other features that are being enabled for the Apple TV (alternative media players, 3rd party applications etc.) whilst keeping quick and easy access to the standard Apple TV GUI.
– A games menu. This would be a nice addition for people with kids, simple games that can be played using the remote.
– An RSS reader. Quickly and easily read news from your favourite websites on your TV, whilst eating cereal.
– A Record menu! This one would be a biggie, built right into the Apple TV, the option to record programs using a schedule.
What would you like from a plugin built right into the Apple TV?
Update: You can now download it here.