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Apple TV OS running on MacBook and booting from USB drive

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 
Apple Inc.'s new Apple TV runs a modified version of the Mac OS X operating system that hackers have already managed to extract and boot on an Intel-based MacBook and an external USB drive.

AppleTVHacks.net, a website documenting the various Apple TV hacks, has posted photos and a video of the Apple TV system software running on a 13-inch Apple MacBook.

The hack, which comes compliments of hackint0sh forum member 'semthex,' requires a patched or modified Apple TV Finder.app. It also requires that the Apple TV's iPhotoAccess and BackRow frameworks be copied over to the same location as the patched system software.

"We are evaluating the legalities of releasing a patch file for the Finder, but currently we are too afraid of Apple Legal," the site reported.

Meanwhile, a video of an earlier hack from the folks at AwkwardTV demonstrates an Apple TV booting from an external USB drive that has been attached to it. The hack is possible without busting into the Apple TV or removing the internal hard disk.

The AwkwardTV project is now looking to build a bootable image for USB drives based on the Open Source Darwin kernel that will allow mounting and editing the internal hard disk, paving the way for other hacks, such as enabling SSH, to be made without opening the Apple TV case.

Apple TV OS running on an Intel MacBook.

Various other Apple TV hacks have also been documented on tech sites across the Web. A Hacking the Apple TV tutorial published over at TutorialNinjas promises to help users install Quartz, play xvid/divx encoded files, enable SSH and VNC, and run Mac OS X applications such as FireFox and Centerstage.

Apple TV OS booting from external USB drive.

A tutorial for enabling Remote Desktop and a video of the first custom Apple TV plug-in are also available.

Over this past weekend, AppleInsider also documented some earlier hacks and lesser known features.
post #2 of 45
This is cool and all, but why would you want to do that?
post #3 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyKrz View Post

This is cool and all, but why would you want to do that?

So that the Apple TV isn't limited to just Apple's video formats.

If someone can find an easy risk free way for me to install crap loads of codecs onto an Apple TV and enable true AC3 (5.1) sound, then I'll be a happy boy.
post #4 of 45
There's no practical reason to do any of this. At least, I can't think of any.
post #5 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by abrooks View Post

So that the Apple TV isn't limited to just Apple's video formats.

If someone can find an easy risk free way for me to install crap loads of codecs onto an Apple TV and enable true AC3 (5.1) sound, then I'll be a happy boy.

See, that's where I'm confused. Could someone explain to me how getting Apple TV to play the other formats works? Even if it's capable of it, you still have to load it into iTunes, but iTunes won't *let* you import those files, even if Quicktime has the ability to play them.
post #6 of 45
So you would install it on the MacBook so that you can hack it and then put it back on the AppleTV?

I can see the advantage to using the USB for an additional HDD and doing the hacks with it, but why put an OS for a $299 device on a $1100+ MacBook unless I guess you just want to play with AppleTV without owning one (which would be illegal I'm sure since you didn't pay for the aTV OS).

What would be a really cool hack is if you could replace the Front Row software with AppleTV software. Then again, they are essentially the same, so why bother.
post #7 of 45
Apple just needs to specify a proper developer's API and put out some usability standards for this device. It's based on OS X, just add some support to Xcode to develop for it.

At $299, it's an overpriced and underpowered box to waste time hacking around with, but with a proper way to add extensions, it might generate some additional interest.
post #8 of 45
I think it's odd that a person that has access to or can buy a camcorder, an AppleTV and an Apple notebook but can't be bothered to even get a cheapie $20 tripod.
post #9 of 45
You do realize that in, like, two weeks this thing will be booting homebrew software for DVR funtionality, games, five thousand codecs, 1080p support, etc., right?

Mark my words.

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post #10 of 45
Call me when you can install a full version of OS X or Windows on an Apple TV.

Ultra small computer for $300? I'm in.
post #11 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmjoe View Post

Apple just needs to specify a proper developer's API and put out some usability standards for this device. It's based on OS X, just add some support to Xcode to develop for it.

At $299, it's an overpriced and underpowered box to waste time hacking around with, but with a proper way to add extensions, it might generate some additional interest.

It's not overpriced if you want what it does. Most people don't--I don't--but it seems to be fairly priced.

As for allowing 3rd-party development and officially-sanctioned customization, I think it's the same situation as the iPhone:

There are TWO philosophies--make a flexible PLATFORM or make a rock-solid consistent APPLIANCE. Both ways DO have their merits. Apple has chosen the latter--easier to support, more reliable, easier for Apple to expand and improve from the OS end without fielding complaints about 3rd-party stuff breaking. I think that's the best choice for most consumers. AppleTV and iPhone COULD be computers, but they're not, they're fixed (though updateable) devices. That has real benefits to users.

But it means that a small group--the hackers and customizers (and I'd probably be one of them!)--will be on their own. At least it's possible though

I'd want to install a custom AppleTV OS on an external boot drive, mod that to death, but leave the internal alone and ready for official updating.
post #12 of 45
Next thing to try is running the code in a non-mac intel pc.

Also I am wondering what if anything is Apple going to say about the current number of hacks, and what they will do if people get it running in a Dell machine, LOL.
post #13 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmjoe View Post

Apple just needs to specify a proper developer's API and put out some usability standards for this device. It's based on OS X, just add some support to Xcode to develop for it.

At $299, it's an overpriced and underpowered box to waste time hacking around with, but with a proper way to add extensions, it might generate some additional interest.

I would strongly disagree. The number of people who would be interested in such additions would be miniscule at best. This box is designed for the mass market, not the geek squad. The typical potential user (me, for example) expect to buy movies and such from the iTMS and play them on our TVs. That the Apple TV could play an ogg vorbis audio file or some other weird, out-of-the-mainstream video codec is useless to me and the vast, vast, majority of users.

The geek squad members should not expect this product to be some sort of über-box. It's not for you. It's for the rest of us.
post #14 of 45
am pretty sure apple was aware this could be done but instead, the build the apple tv, lol i think instead of spending over a $1000 dollars for something that wont work right because macbooks dont come with HDMI or DVI outputs i rather buy a apple tv that will work flawlessly $300 sound like a hell alot like a better deal
post #15 of 45
Wow, cool!

Can you also get the Apple TV OS installed on my microwave, have it boot up into Screensaver, then display 'FU' on my microwave's display while playing the Star Spangled Banner?

THAT would be cool. I bet nobody can do that. If someone can, please do it. 'Cause I heard it's IMPOSSIBLE. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, can do it.

Extra points: Replace microwave above with analog model from the 80's.
post #16 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zweben View Post

Call me when you can install a full version of OS X or Windows on an Apple TV.

Ultra small computer for $300? I'm in.

To me, that's the interesting prospect. It looks to me that the hardware is practically a steal. A bare miniITX board costs about as much, without power supply, case, wireless networking, memory, drive or CPU. This has the potential to be a shot in the arm for a lot of interesting projects.
post #17 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by macinthe408 View Post

Wow, cool!

Can you also get the Apple TV OS installed on my microwave, have it boot up into Screensaver, then display 'FU' on my microwave's display while playing the Star Spangled Banner?

THAT would be cool. I bet nobody can do that. If someone can, please do it. 'Cause I heard it's IMPOSSIBLE. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, can do it.

Extra points: Replace microwave above with analog model from the 80's.

No, but would Jessica Simpson ringing your doorbell and farting the national anthem be more realistic?
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post #18 of 45
The biggest problem is getting access to the onboard USB port so that you can hook up a keyboard and get the neccessary software on it without opening the case. So far I dont think anyone has been successfull with this.
post #19 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

I would strongly disagree. The number of people who would be interested in such additions would be miniscule at best. This box is designed for the mass market, not the geek squad. The typical potential user (me, for example) expect to buy movies and such from the iTMS and play them on our TVs. That the Apple TV could play an ogg vorbis audio file or some other weird, out-of-the-mainstream video codec is useless to me and the vast, vast, majority of users.

The geek squad members should not expect this product to be some sort of über-box. It's not for you. It's for the rest of us.

I strongly disagree with. First if the target audience is people who want to buy video content from the iTS, then it's not a mass market product to start with.

Second, I liken the AppleTV to the iPod. The iPod's primary function is to play music and some video content. The AppleTV's primary function is to play video and some music content. But the iPod has an entire industry of peripherals for it: voice recorders, am/fm tuners, alarm clock docks, etc. This would be the same thing as extensions/plug-ins for the AppleTV. If the iTS sold a $5 YouTube plug-in for AppleTV, I bet it would sell like hotcakes to AppleTV owners. Or a DivX plug-in, etc. Sure, there might be hacks for all of this available by the time I finish typing this, but people would be willing to get it from a legitimate source if they could count on it to function properly. I don't care that it can't play ogg vorbis, but not being able to play standard video formats like avi, wmv, and mpg does bother me.
post #20 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCG View Post

The biggest problem is getting access to the onboard USB port so that you can hook up a keyboard and get the neccessary software on it without opening the case. So far I dont think anyone has been successfull with this.

The USB port is right on the back, not hidden--and people have gotten a keyboard to work as well as booting from an external drive. So the door is open for then accessing the internal drive and making changes without opening the case. Expect How-To's any time now
post #21 of 45
For all the "why would you do this" people, this is a huge step towards broader appeal and functionality. Nagromme stated that you can have either a Platform or an Appliance. While this is true, some of the most interesting devices are the ones that look like an appliance to people who are fine with what is out of the box, or a platform for people that have special needs.

A Mac is much the same crossover; for many, the joy is that is just works (like an appliance). Others love what they can do with it by adding in components by others.

Making the apple tv a platform gives all kinds of interesting ways to integrate in other functionality that could dramatically expand the market (especially at its price point). For my work, I often need stand alone displays or remote consoles. Something like this could be used to economically provide a status console for a network, a flight information display system, or even a source selector for a media wall. Currently, you pay a lot more and have to use industrial equipment to do the same thing. Velcro to the back of a 42" LCD isn't out of the question. It would have been easier for legacy applicatoins if they had a VGA port, but we might be able to work with what we have.

For homes, you could integrate in some home automation gateway functionality into it, so that you can control things from the TV... or see what is in your fridge. Maybe even switch to a webcam located at the front door... without a lot of fancy equipment.

It isn't for everybody, but it does really open the door for a whole slew of new uses for a product that Apple might not have considered or wanted to really develop for.

For me, this makes me see opportunities for the device, instead of some really odd little box that *I* can't see why anybody would want. I just hope Apple doesn't screw it up trying to lock it to just iTunes Store Purchases.
post #22 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by caliminius View Post

I strongly disagree with. First if the target audience is people who want to buy video content from the iTS, then it's not a mass market product to start with.

It's not. But it's intended to become one--and sending down the route where everyone's AppleTV is different in operation would be bad in that case. With computers that's a given--you run the apps you need!--but this is an appliance. Granted, for some, that makes it less appealing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by caliminius View Post

Second, I liken the AppleTV to the iPod. The iPod's primary function is to play music and some video content. The AppleTV's primary function is to play video and some music content. But the iPod has an entire industry of peripherals for it: voice recorders, am/fm tuners, alarm clock docks, etc. This would be the same thing as extensions/plug-ins for the AppleTV.

Not the same: the iPod is reliable because it's software is fixed (unless you hack it as I have enoyed doing ) You're comparing iPod hardware accessories to AppleTV software additions. Additions that change the function and control of the device, add menus, or whatever. The iPod doesn't allow that either.
post #23 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

The geek squad members should not expect this product to be some sort of über-box. It's not for you. It's for the rest of us.

The geek squad LOVES the apple TV. Have you checked around the geek forums? I have.
post #24 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barabas View Post

The geek squad LOVES the apple TV. Have you checked around the geek forums? I have.

Precisely. The hobbyist hacker market seems to be quite excited by apple TV.
Many people who would not think of buying one for its marketed purpose
are buying them just to experiment/play with.
The relative ease of hacking makes me wonder if Apple Inc is deliberately
trying to expand into this market.
post #25 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh View Post

or see what is in your fridge.

Report to your nearest gym - IMMEDIATELY!

Quote:
I just hope Apple doesn't screw it up trying to lock it to just iTunes Store Purchases.

Well they didn't muck it up on their first attempt to lock it to the store so I doubt they are going to if they make further attempts.

Does anyone really think that the people who have the technical expertise to create this thing from scratch wouldn't know intimately how it could be hacked and tweaked?

Any of those hackers who think they are getting one over Apples engineers are simply kidding themselves.
post #26 of 45
I'm sure this is just the beginning. Apple is likely building the foundation of the ATV platform.

The first thing ATV needs to do above all is work easily and reliably as advertised. Once that is assured Apple can begin adding bells and whistles.

As opposed to the way MS does things. That is to add every bit of functionality they can think of half of it doesn't work properly or very easily.
post #27 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by quinney View Post

Precisely. The hobbyist hacker market seems to be quite excited by apple TV.
Many people who would not think of buying one for its marketed purpose
are buying them just to experiment/play with.
The relative ease of hacking makes me wonder if Apple Inc is deliberately
trying to expand into this market.

I really don't think Apple is actively trying to expand into the "hacker"market. Even if it was big enough to be worth the bother, which i doubt.
post #28 of 45
Hehe wake me up when they got Linux up and running on that thing... That'd be great! No more limits!
post #29 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

It's not. But it's intended to become one--and sending down the route where everyone's AppleTV is different in operation would be bad in that case. With computers that's a given--you run the apps you need!--but this is an appliance. Granted, for some, that makes it less appealing.



Not the same: the iPod is reliable because it's software is fixed (unless you hack it as I have enoyed doing ) You're comparing iPod hardware accessories to AppleTV software additions. Additions that change the function and control of the device, add menus, or whatever. The iPod doesn't allow that either.

I don't see the difference. The AppleTV software would essentially be fixed. It's really no different whether the additional features come from a hardware device or a software package. To me the difference between a hardware add-on and a software add-on is semantic. The hooks to allow the hardware to function have to be in the device's software to begin with like the Apple Radio Remote. It adds a menu when it's plugged into the iPod. The basic functionality of the device remains the same it's just be expandable as people desired just like the iPod.

If the plug-ins were only available via the iTS, Apple would have quality control to make sure they met a certain criteria and were thus non-destructive. Where's the harm of instead of having just Music, Movies, and TV (or whatever the main AppleTV choices are), it added a YouTube icon to the group? If you wanted it, you pay the $4.99 at the iTS and if you don't, you don't.
post #30 of 45
No harm if Apple controls and tests the add-ons, as they do with iPod games and I expect with the iPhone.

If the AppleTV were not "closed"--if ANYONE could officially make add-ons (like they can for a Mac) then the problem comes up.

Software add-ons ARE different from hardware accessories for iPod: software can make your machine crash. iPod accessories don't do that, while Mac software does
post #31 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeaPeaJay View Post

There's no practical reason to do any of this. At least, I can't think of any.

I can think of one if you wanna cheat apple out of money or something. This goes out to everyone that claims a mac mini is better:

1. Own an intel mac mini (because appletv's os is intel only)
2. Buy appletv
3. Have external hd
4. Copy appletv's os to external and hack it
5. Attachit to the mini
6. Return appletv to store

And now you've got a mini that can act as a computer and as a free appletv by booting from it's external drive.
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post #32 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

No harm if Apple controls and tests the add-ons, as they do with iPod games and I expect with the iPhone.

If the AppleTV were not "closed"--if ANYONE could officially make add-ons (like they can for a Mac) then the problem comes up.

Software add-ons ARE different from hardware accessories for iPod: software can make your machine crash. iPod accessories don't do that, while Mac software does

The platform doesn't need to be "closed" to do this. You can specify an API, test that the software conforms to the API on install, and run the process under a restricted account. As long as you manage the install mechanism and have good security, you're all set.

Hardware add-ons can make your iPod crash ... it just wouldn't be profitable to mass produce hardware that does it. I could probably even design a hardware add-on that'd totally fry an iPod, but I doubt that'd be a good selling point.
post #33 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

It's not overpriced if you want what it does. Most people don't--I don't--but it seems to be fairly priced.

I was talking about for "hacking". You can buy a low end, expandable computer for the price of this that'd blow the cover off of Apple TV specs-wise. It wouldn't be a Mac, but if you're just planning on hacking it ... who cares. For hacking, Apple TV's only advantages over a cheap PC for hacking are small, quiet, and outputs for HDTV. Of course, you can also grab an old Xbox for <$100 and be in about the same spot.

Once the novelty wears off and you can pick up one for $100-$150, then the hackers will be interested.
post #34 of 45
For most people these hacks don't matter. They just want something that 'just works' and does what the product is described as being able to do. Limitations of what tools they can use to serve and access is not much of an issue.

On the other hand you have people who want to prove what can be done with the hardware at hand. Whether it is useful ot not is always debatable. Reasons to hack the Apple TV include:
- not limiting the content server to a Mac or PC running iTunes
- being able to serve content in any format they wish, not just those officially supported by iTunes
- being able to add their own look to the system

The solutions aren't always elegant, or easy to install, but they do usually end up doing something that ends up being copied to some extent. Heck, if if some of these hacks encourages Apple to improve the official functionality of the Apple TV, then all the better

As to an extensible API, HTTP with XML pages might go some way.
post #35 of 45
The Apple TV has the potential to be a great Trojan horse : if popular, it'll get Mac OS in the house of a great number of people. Users will associate Mac OS with "something that never freezes" (as opposed to W). Users will get used to the interface and will look forward to using it even more. Users will want to get a Mac... or a Leopard licence maybe ?
post #36 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pascal007 View Post

The Apple TV has the potential to be a great Trojan horse : if popular, it'll get Mac OS in the house of a great number of people. Users will associate Mac OS with "something that never freezes" (as opposed to W). Users will get used to the interface and will look forward to using it even more. Users will want to get a Mac... or a Leopard licence maybe ?

I agree with that. I think it is going to be the same with the iPhone as well. I think the key with the later is going to be the supply levels in particular.
post #37 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pascal007 View Post

The Apple TV has the potential to be a great Trojan horse : if popular, it'll get Mac OS in the house of a great number of people. Users will associate Mac OS with "something that never freezes" (as opposed to W). Users will get used to the interface and will look forward to using it even more. Users will want to get a Mac... or a Leopard licence maybe ?

Come on, that's ridiculous. You don't get any sense of the oSX operating system with Atv...

It's more like Front Row- there's no Finder (thank god) no standard desktop, no keyboard, no mouse. You don't run any programs from it either. Saying it's great because it doesn't crash is like saying I should get a VAIO because my Sony Clock Radio never crashes...

You're stretching.

Incidentally, Atv, will only end up in existing Mac owners' houses anyways... It takes a special sort of Mac fan to buy one at this point, until they make it worth the money and hassle.
post #38 of 45
**best post**
Quote:
Originally Posted by Superbass View Post

Come on, that's ridiculous. You don't get any sense of the oSX operating system with Atv...

It's more like Front Row- there's no Finder (thank god) no standard desktop, no keyboard, no mouse. You don't run any programs from it either. Saying it's great because it doesn't crash is like saying I should get a VAIO because my Sony Clock Radio never crashes...

You're stretching.

Incidentally, Atv, will only end up in existing Mac owners' houses anyways... It takes a special sort of Mac fan to buy one at this point, until they make it worth the money and hassle.

I don't see anyone besides Mac owners buying this.
post #39 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackSummerNight View Post

**best post**


I don't see anyone besides Mac owners buying this.

lots of modders interested in this. 'nix kinda people. cause its fun and has nice ports.
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post #40 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Superbass View Post

Come on, that's ridiculous. You don't get any sense of the oSX operating system with Atv...

It's more like Front Row- there's no Finder (thank god) no standard desktop, no keyboard, no mouse. You don't run any programs from it either. Saying it's great because it doesn't crash is like saying I should get a VAIO because my Sony Clock Radio never crashes...

I think you are right. I expect it will be overwhelmingly Apple owners who buy this at first.

However, I fault your logic above. At this point, it is hard to deny the "halo effect". The iPod doesn't really give you a true sense of the Mac OS, but because it worked exceedingly well it made people feel better about the idea of owning a Mac. Similarly, I believe that *if* the ATV were a big crossover hit, it might help lead people to buying Macs, regardless of whether truly gives a sense of the Mac OS.

That said, I don't expect it to do that because I don't expect it to be a big crossover hit. At least not without (sorry Steve) cheep, good quality rentals.
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