Apple TV OS running on MacBook and booting from USB drive

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 44
    This is cool and all, but why would you want to do that?
  • Reply 2 of 44
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 44
    There's no practical reason to do any of this. At least, I can't think of any.
  • Reply 4 of 44
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 44
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 44
    pmjoepmjoe Posts: 565member
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 44
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 44
    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.



    -Clive
  • Reply 9 of 44
    zwebenzweben Posts: 75member
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 44
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 44
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 44
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,446member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 44
    fraklincfraklinc Posts: 244member
    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
  • Reply 14 of 44
    macinthe408macinthe408 Posts: 1,050member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 44
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 44
    sandausandau Posts: 1,230member
    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?
  • Reply 17 of 44
    jcgjcg Posts: 777member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 44
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 44
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    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
  • Reply 20 of 44
    aaarrrggghaaarrrgggh Posts: 1,563member
    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.
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