How To

JamanTV: a sneak preview

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on September 27, 2007

jaman appletv JamanTV:  a sneak preview
Introduction

Are you just bored sick waiting for iTunes to offer movie rentals? Yes, you’ve probably been hearing about it for weeks (months?) that Apple is going to offer movies for rent via iTunes soon. I guess, it is just not soon enough. It was a rumor then it STILL is today. Meanwhile, subscribers of services like Amazon Unbox, Movielink and CinemaNow are already enjoying their rented movies on their PCs, Xbox 360′s and Tivos. Yeah, I know, you’re contemplating listing your Apple TV on Craig’s list and trade it in for an Xbox 360 (Halo 3, anyone?).

But wait, there is still hope. OK, not just hope. It’s a soon-to-be reality. You WILL be able to watch rented movies on your Apple TV very very soon.

Jaman, a movie download service featuring some of the top movies from all over the globe, is gearing up for the release of their JamanTV player. You might have heard about this application when it was featured on gigaom back in June. In that post, Om Malik wrote about an application that allowed rented movies from Jaman to be viewed right on the Apple TV. And, boy, was he excited about it. However, since then, there had been no update on that news.

Then, it happened. Last week, I was given the opportunity to preview the upcoming JamanTV application when the company contacted me to take a look at it. Of course, I jumped on it. I couldn’t have waited another day to be able view rented movies on my Apple TV.

How it works

There are two components to getting Jaman movies to work on the Apple TV: the Jaman Player for your PC/Mac and JamanTV player for your Apple TV. The computer-based player behaves similar to iTunes, in which it manages the downloaded movies and also keeps track of external devices allowed to sync with it. Once the JamanTV player is installed on the Apple TV, it can then be added to the device list to be synced with the computer-based player.

player1 JamanTV:  a sneak preview

The Jaman Player for your computer is publicly available from the site and is actually required to view movies from the service. On the other hand, the yet-to-be-released JamanTV for the Apple TV has to be installed via a PatchStick.

For those not familiar with a PatchStick, it is bootable USB flash drive that contains scripts for enabling SSH and installing other 3rd party components on to the Apple TV. You can read more about it at awkwardtv.org.

Installation

Installing the Jaman Player on the computer was a no brainer. It installed just like any application out there. With the player installed, you can log in to the service and start renting movies right away.

Installing JamanTV via a PatchStick was relatively simple too. However, there was one major requirement: an Intel Mac. This is needed to run the script for creating the PatchStick. I am confident that this requirement will go away in the future but for now, this is the way it is.

A Jaman representative gave me a zip file called Patchstick.zip, containing applications and scripts to create my very own PatchStick.

patchstick content JamanTV:  a sneak preview

The Patchstick.zip file contains the main install script, createPatchstick, 2 instruction files in PDF and two folders caled “Patchstick” and “root”.

The install script needed the following:

  • Admin privileges
  • Apple TV 1.1 software update (found here)
  • USB flash drive with at least 128mb capacity

Before the install script could be run, the Apple TV 1.1 software update had to be extracted and mounted first. Opening it would mount a volume called “OSBoot” in the Finder. The script needed some files from the “OSBoot” mounted volume to be copied to the Patchstick.

I found the two instruction files to be very detailed and informative. Following the instructions in the “ModifyAppleTV2.pdf” file, I managed to run the install script with ease.

The install script partitioned the USB drive into two partitions: an Apple TV Recovery partition and a regular OS X partition. All the tools and software resided in the Apple TV Recovery partition to be copied to the Apple TV.

Just to be sure that the install script was solid, I ran it through about 10 – 15 times. On certain occasions, I ran into a minor glitch in the script. The script used the command “diskutil unmountDisk” to unmount the USB drive. This was not always successful. After changing it to “disktool -u”, the problem went away.

terminal JamanTV:  a sneak preview

Once the Patchstick was created, I plugged it into the Apple TV and booted from it (“menu” and “-” buttons). With the Patchstick connected, Apple TV booted from it and the install script copied necessary components to the Apple TV. After a couple of reboots, my Apple TV now had a new entry on the root menu called “Jaman Movies”.

jamantv JamanTV:  a sneak preview
At this point, there was just one more step left: adding the patched Apple TV to Jaman Player’s list of devices to sync with. The player required the serial number of the Apple TV for this. The serial number could be obtained from the following sources: iTunes, Jaman Movies menu and Settings menu.

add device1 JamanTV:  a sneak preview
Once the Apple TV was added, the player immediately started the syncing process to transfer the downloaded movies to the Apple TV. It couldn’t be any easier than this.

Depending on your network speed, each movie should take only a few minutes to be transferred. However, some movies might take up a few gigabytes of storage. My network runs on Airport Extreme (802.11n) so transferring a few gigabytes of movies did not take long at all. On the other hand, downloading a movie from the service via the Internet took about 40 minutes to an hour.

configuration screen1 JamanTV:  a sneak preview

Conclusion

Overall, I am very impressed with the JamanTV software. Hats off to the developers for keeping the install process simple and making the players well-polished.

The only thing I would like to see in the future is maybe the ability to preview and rent movies right from the Apple TV without syncing with the PC.

Last I heard, Jaman is ready to get the JamanTV out to the public any day now. Once it is released, you can finally enjoy rented movies on your Apple TV too.

Update

I was given the permission to go ahead and post the Patchstick file for download. It is available here.

Enjoy.

Create plugins for Backrow

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on April 2, 2007

quit frap Create plugins for Backrow
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.

Quit BackRow

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:

/System/Library/CoreServices/Front Row.app/Contents/PlugIns/

Make your own

For the programmers amongst you, there is a tutorial on creating plugins over at the excellent Awkward TV wiki.

Install Asterisk on Apple TV

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on April 2, 2007

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.

Getting Started

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.

[click to continue…]

Mac OS X running on Apple TV

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on April 1, 2007

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):

mac os x on apple tv1 sm Mac OS X running on Apple TV

[click to continue…]

Use your USB keyboard and mouse

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on March 30, 2007

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!

Hidden files in the Apple TV kernel file

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on March 26, 2007

There has been debate over whether the Apple TV is really running OS X ‘proper’, or a derivative. One point is there are important system files which are absent, or are they?

AppleTVHacks.net has been made aware of some kernel extensions and other files that are hidden within the Apple TV’s ‘kernel’ file.

This process is for hardcore geeks only – but may lead to something that everyone can benefit from

Find the hidden files…

If you open it up an image of the harddrve you will see the filesystem of the AppleTV. It contains all the files we know from it’s big brother OS X, but where is the kernel? The EFI bootloader boot.efi is there, but not the kernel. There is a file called mach_kernel.prelink but it does not disassemble or look really right, even though you can see the __TEXT marks in a hex editor. Well the reason for this is, this little ~6MB file is not the kernel. It is a package of files utilized by the EFI, compressed with an odd compression algorithm. So to extract these files? It is easier than you may think, lets take a look…

If you open the file up you will see the header starts with “complzss”, which you probably won’t recognise. Well this header belongs to none of the common compression techniques used on OS X, so what is it? A quick search on Google turned up “The SWORD Project”, an open source bible software projevt, which uses the same compression. You must download the API files for Linux from this page, we are going to use the compression utility it includes.

Run ./configure in the main directory, and then run make, the change to the ‘tests’ directory and run make again, which will build the ‘complzss’ utility. At first this didn’t work, but after some experimentation we found the solution. You need to make a copy of the ‘mach_kernel.prelink’ file from the OSBoot drive, and name mach_kernel.lzs. You then need to remove the first 180 bytes of the file in a hex editor, so it should now start with “FFCEFA” (you may notice the Intel Mach header…). Finally run this file though the ‘complzss’ utility. Bingo! You have a new decompressed file.

Well but the file still seemed a bit huge for a Intel only kernel, so we opened it in a hex editor and examined it carefully. It seems the file contains multiple file headers! Well now came the hard part, cutting it into peaces. From begining of each header to the next (mach header for Intel starts: CEFAEDFE0700 hex). After cutting the file correctly you will end up with ~100 files, albeit without names.

These files appear to be missing daemons, kexts etc. the system image you made earlier is missing. Among them the kext for the remote etc. are included so this is a big step towards getting OS X ‘proper’ to run on the Apple TV.

Now begins the process of digging through these files and seeing what other bounty lays within.

Thanks go to semthex for discovering this process, you can visit him on the www.hackint0sh.org/forum to discuss Apple TV hacks with him.

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