Hack the Apple TV without opening the case

by editor @ on April 3, 2007

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

Create plugins for Backrow

by editor @ 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 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:


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 @ 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 @ on April 1, 2007

semthex from, in collaboration with 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. 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…]

Best Television for the Apple TV?

by editor @ on March 30, 2007

hdtv Best Television for the Apple TV?

Various people have talked about the quality of their TVs for using with the Apple TV, and a few people have said they have had problems with certain TVs.

What we would like to do here is find out what TVs our readers are using with their Apple TV, what they think of the picture quality, whether you had any problems getting your Apple TV hooked up with it. Any details which might be relevant, so over the coming months when people ask “Will Apple TV work on my television?”, they can find the answer here.

To this end, on April 30th we will be giving away a $25 iTunes voucher to a someone who posts an informative post about using the Apple TV with a particular television; chosen at random from those who have posted here at that point (so please include a valid email address if you wish to be considered!).

If you aren’t sure where to start with purchasing an HDTV, then Amazon have a great selection Best Television for the Apple TV? and are currently offering a $50 rebate.

Call for testers! Get $50 to test latest hack.

by editor @ on March 30, 2007 and Semthex, from Hackint0sh forums, are looking for testers to help test the latest hack on the Apple TV.

You must be comfortable with opening your Apple TV to access the harddrive, and perferably have good knowledge of OS X and the command line. We will only accept a few testers, and only the first one of those to successfully install the hack will win the $50.

By asking to test you agree to non-disclosure, until such a time the hack is made public. All the testers chosen will receive credit when the hack is announced.

Update: We have received loads of emails and are now closed for any more entries. Sorry if we don’t reply to your entry, we got kind of swamped! More news when we have it!

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